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Four Tips to Build an Athletic Body

Jump over boxes

[A variation of this article was published as a guest post on NickTumminello.com]

Building an athletic body isn’t just for competitive athletes. It’s for everyone. Or it should be.

Why not be able to  run, throw, jump, cut, and play a recreational sport at the drop of a hat? Unfortunately, this isn’t as common as it should be.

Much more common is this:
*  29-year-old Bryce pops his hamstring playing beer-league softball.
* Or 31 year-old Laurie sprains an ankle chasing her daughter.

Let’s soar up to 30,000 feet for a moment to consider the big issue:

If your training isn’t improving your quality of life, or improving your ability to play a sport you enjoy, what exactly are you accomplishing?

This article explains how to apply principles I’ve learned working with both athletes and general population clients. I’ll explain how tweaking your training can power up your performance —  and minimize your chance of injury.

We can all use a performance upgrade, whether it’s a competitive playing field, or kickin’ it with your buddies every Thursday night with beer league softball.These principles, when applied as directed, will help you build an athletic body.

Maximum Strength with the Big Three is Overrated:

What’s the top tip most coaches preach as it pertains to building an athletic body?

If you said getting stronger, you’re correct.

training to failure, athletic body

While strength is important to build a foundation for the development of speed and power, it’s overvalued if you endlessly chase strength PR’s to the determinant of improving your ability to use it, relative strength, and movement.

Before you punch your computer screen and call me an idiot, hear me out. I’m not saying Maximum Strength isn’t important to build an athletic body.

It is.

It’s vital.

But, there are more ways to build strength than the powerlifting movements. There’s no magical touch associated with a heavy loaded barbell.

Your body understands stress, and that it needs to generate force and recruit motor units to overcome an external stressor, not that there’s a loaded barbell.

What’s more important is the muscles recruited, amount of force needed to overcome the resistance, and integrating movement that matches the demands of sport. This can be through a unilateral exercise, a barbell, kettlebell, weighted sled, or your own bodyweight.

It’s not the tool that’s important. It’s that your body is working in a specific movement pattern, recruiting the correct muscles, and generating force when you need it. 

Furthermore, for non-competitive lifters, there are diminishing returns with endlessly chasing strength PR’s as it pertains to becoming more athletic.

Athletic Body, bach performance jump rope, Build an Athletic Body, eric bach jump rope, athletic body,

Example: a 200-pound man has the goal of running faster and jumping higher. Currently, he’s well trained and has a back squat max 375 lbs.

Would he be better off using a specialized program to get your squat to 405, or adding lighter, more explosive exercises to maximize his ability to rapidly generate already-present strength?

If you picked more explosive exercises, good for you!

Your body specifically adapts to the imposed demands.

Maximizing the carryover to your sport requires you train movements and patterns that are specific to the demands of your sport, such as explosive jumping and sprinting.

Instead of just lifting heavy, focus on maintaining your strength base. Improve your relative strength and power in the movements you need for performance.

Power —  the ability to generate strength rapidly —  is vector specific. Huh? That means to optimally develop power for a given activity, you must train it in the direction, with joint angles, and recruitment patterns most similar to your activity.

At the end of the day, strength is vital. Tere’s no denying that. But it’s time to move past the “ bro,  just get really strong” argument. You need to move and generate power in the directions you need. Otherwise, you’ll limit your performance.

Jump and Throw

Building an athletic body requires your muscles to work  together. That means increasing the ability of your body (muscles, joints, ligaments, and nervous system) to function as a complete unit.

Jumps and throws take major movement patterns, such as the squat or press, and change the typical demands from a pure-strength exercise to an explosive speed or speed-strength exercise.

Working with lighter loads and focusing on explosive movement more directly correlates to the demands of most sports. You’ll  improve your ability to move and generate force in the movement patterns needed for performance.

Adding jumps or throws to your training can increase neuromuscular capabilities. You’ll transfer your strength into usable athleticism and power. The result? Better performance.

Throws, Jumps, and Upper Body Plyometrics:

To maximize carryover from training to your activity of choice, include jumps and throws that most similarly match the demands of your sport or workout. These exercises are best performed after a dynamic warm-up and before lifting.

Try 3-4 sets of 3-6 reps with 90-120 seconds of rest between sets. Below, I’ve listed my top three favorite variations, with a few other suggestions listed underneath.

Overhead slam: Explosive shoulder extension while preventing spinal flexion.

Sports Action: Think volleyball spike, a swimming stroke, or swinging an ax for the lumbar jacks in the audience.

This works the explosive shoulder extension, forcing the lats, triceps, posterior delts, and pecs to rapidly generate force. It also forces your core to work double time, transferring force from overhead towards the ground while preventing your spine from flexing forward.

How to do it: Use a non-bouncy medicine ball (8-12 lbs.) and hold it overhead.

Brace the abs like you would before someone pokes you in the stomach. Now, with the weight overhead and abs braced, throw the ball to the ground while keeping eyes straightforward and minimal trunk flexion.

Your goal is to throw as hard as possible without bending through the waist or rounding in your shoulders.

Inline Plyo-Push-Up:  Emphasize horizontal pressing power

Sports Action: Pushing an opponent away from you.

Compared to a clap push-up, elevating the hands on a bench allows larger individuals to generate maximum force with less compressive stress on the joints while maintaining a neutral spine position (non-saggy push-up position).

How to do it: On a bench, assume a push-up position with the hands aligned with the shoulders, legs fully extended, abs braced, and back straight. Don’t allow the hips to dip.

Lower yourself rapidly to the bench and then explosively push your body away. The energy should make you rock back to mid-foot or heel if your relative strength is high.

As gravity carries you back to the starting position, slightly bend the elbows at impact to reduce stress and “stick” the landing with minimal movement through your torso. Re-set and repeat.

Dumbbell Squat jump: Explosive triple extension, a speed-strength variation of a vertical jump.

Sport action: Explosive triple extension, jumping in basketball, vertical propulsion.

Squat jumps mimic the squat and a vertical jump, bridging the gap between jumping in sport and squatting in the gym.

How to do it: There are three phases: loading, exploding, and landing.

Loading: Set up with feet about shoulder-width apart in an athletic stance with arms up at chest height. The loading phase utilizes a simultaneous downward arm swing with flexing at the hips and knees, thus loading up the legs.

Exploding: Rapidly swing the arms up while driving your feet into the ground and extending the hips and knees, and then taking off on the balls of the feet. Fully extend the arms overhead and aim to fully extend the body with the ankle, knee, hip, trunk, shoulder, and ear all being aligned.

Landing: Bend your knees and drop the hips into a squat position, absorbing force evenly though the foot. Keep your chest and head up, looking straight ahead. Hold a vertical shin position to minimize excessive shear stress and valgus/varus positions of the knee.

Analyze: What’s the Risk/Reward Trade-Off?

Everyone come from various backgrounds that create bias towards different training disciplines. It could be powerlifting, strongman, bodybuilding, Olympic lifting (my bias), or something else.

With so many different opinions and experts on training, how can you select the exercises that are best for you?

Instead of thinking of any exercise as the next best thing, step back and consider each exercise a tool to get the job done.

The tool that is best both matches the movement patterns needed for your sport, and minimizes the risk of injury.

For example, we can all agree that the squat is a phenomenal exercise for developing strength and power.

But how important is sub-parallel squat depth?

In the case of a competitive weight lifting, going to extreme depths, even with butt wink and (loss of lumber stability) is a demand of the sport. In this case, an ass to grass squatting is warranted, as it’s directly required in competition.

But, what about Bryce, who popped his hamstring playing softball? He’s an average dude at the gym, just wanting to look better for summer and crush a few homers.

In this case, Bryce loses lumbar stability below parallel in his squat. The risk of low-back injury (either acute or chronic) with an ass-to-grass squat outweighs the potential benefits of building athletic muscle.

This isn’t to say that squats are a bad exercise for him, but in the context of depth, he’s better off working within a stable range of motion.

Each exercise is a tool, rather than an end-all be all to performance. Pick the tools and techniques with that complete the job while minimizing risk, and maximizing rewards. 

Exercise Order Based on Neural Demands

When it comes to performance, the nervous system is the Captain.

To maximize performance and reduce injury risk, the most neurologically demanding exercises must be performed early in the workout, when the body is fresh. 

Most sports require explosive sprints, jumps, cuts, swings and throws to drive performance. If you’re performing exercises to improve, like cleans for a vertical jump, yet already ran 3×400 meter sprints and did heavy squats, your nervous system is probably too torched for super high power outputs, meaning the nervous system won’t send signals fast enough to allow sound technique and performance.

As a result, you’re setting yourself up for sub-par training and performance at best, and injury at worst.

If your exercise selection doesn’t jive with your goals and allow you to generate force, while also increasing injury risk, then you have a big problem.

Keep intense movements like sprints, jumps, and heavy lifts early in your workout. Then move onto higher rep, less neurally demanding exercises later on.

Four Ways to Build an Athletic Body

  • Put the most explosive exercises first in your training
  • Stop obsessing over max weight
  • Jump, throw, push, and run
  • Look at your training from a risk/reward perspective

Once you have a foundation of strength and basic movement, it’s time to focus specifically on your goals.

Looking To Build an Athletic Body?

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Athletic Body

4 Explosive Exercises to Make You a Beast

eric bach, the power primer, the power primer 2.0Expert Tips to Build Muscle, 4 Explosive Exercises to Make You a Beast

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

Lifting more weight and adding some high-performance muscle is a pretty common goal.

But what happens when you don’t have Olympic bars, bumper plates, and all the necessary equipment? Unfortunately, some people throw in the towel and digress to subpar training methods that aren’t nearly as effective.

4 Explosive Exercises to Make You a Beast

But not you.

You’re different.

You find a way.

Today, I’m going to help you with my latest post on T-Nation.com by hooking you up with four exercises to build explosive power, even if you don’t have a barbell or dumbbells.

4 Explosive Exercises to Make You a Beast… What you Need to Know

  1. In the short term, explosive exercises activate high-threshold motor units to recruit more muscle during your training. More recruitment means more weight and more muscle.
  2. In the long-term, explosive exercises allow you to recruit more muscle fibers with less effort. This makes it easier to smash heavy weights.
  3. You can maximize this muscular recruitment by lifting more heavy stuff, or by lifting, jumping, or throwing lighter stuff faster.


>>Check it Out Here<<

15 Expert Tips: How to Improve Athleticism

improved athleticism

Lets be Clear: 

To Improve athleticism, building muscle and strength isn’t enough—you must be able to move and generate force rapidly to stand above the average meathead.

Who wants to be all show and no go?

Further, what fun is having tons of endurance without appreciable muscle mass?

If you’re like most lifters, you want demand a blend of both athleticism and muscle mass, and that’s what I’m here to deliver. 

Get Your Free Athleticism CheckList, ASAP!


In today’s post, I’ll show you how to build a body capable of competing with the toughest athletes, yet still lean and muscular.

I reached out to a handful of expert coaches in the industry to help you maximize your training and improve athletic performance.

Not only will you maximize your training, you’ll build real-world athleticism. In other words, these tips will help you become Unleash Your Athleticism, and become a beast both in, and out of the gym. 

 1) Value Relative Strength As much as Absolute Strength

There are many factors to consider, but heavy strength training is a tool for improvement, not the end-all be-all in performance.

Does the allocation of resources towards building more strength with potential gains in size outweigh the benefits of higher relative strength and corresponding improvements in agility, speed, power, and coordination?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but no.

bodyweight training, Expert Tips to Build Muscle, How to Improve Athleticism

There are always exceptions like absolute strength athletes such as lineman, throwers, and strongman competitors, but when athletes’ sports are movement based relative strength reigns king.

Incorporate bodyweight training, movement skills like sprints and jumps, and stop blindly adding weight to the bar above all else.

Related: Find out Seven Ways to Improve Relative Strength

2) Develop Unilateral Strength and Power

David Dellanave of Dellanave.com

If you want a more athletic, and dare I say functional, type of strength prepare to get comfortable with unilateral work. The fact is most sport movements happen from an offset stance and favor power development unilaterally.

Let’s look at two great movements to make this happen:

The first is the skater squat, or airborne lunge. This is a super challenging movement that is fantastic for building single leg strength. Don’t be put off by this bodyweight exercise – most people have to progress from a Bulgarian split squat to develop single leg strength and stability to prepare for the unsupported, skater squat.

The skater squat is like a pistol squat, but instead of the non-working leg being outstretched in front of you, the hip is flexed and you tap the knee of the non-working leg on the ground near your planted foot. Here’s one of Ben Bruno’s guys doing it:

In most cases, you’ll want a little weight to act as a counterbalance to aid in balance. To progress the skater squat slightly reduce the range of motion by tapping the knee to a yoga block rather than on the ground. This increases the difficulty of the exercise by requiring additional eccentric control. Gradually increase the range of motion until you’re going all the way to the ground.

The second unilateral power exercise is the split stance one-armed push press, one of the most underrated exercises for athletic power development. Working with one arm negates the bilateral deficit and allows you to move a ton of weight for massive gains in strength and power. The push press requires other transfer of force from the power body until a full-body, coordinated movement.

When done from a split stance, the push press forces stability through the hip and trunk. Keep in mind the best way to find which foot position is best is to biofeedback test it.

Integrate these two staples into your strength and conditioning program and you’re going to be a force to be reckoned with on the field.

3) Jump Rope to Improve Coordination

bach performance jump rope, How to Improve Athleticism

Jumping rope is an excellent way to develop the individual qualities that make up coordinative athletic movement—what we typically call “athleticism.”

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Hitting the weights hard and eating well is important, but true athleticism requires coordination, not just brute strength. Everyone loves being big, strong, and fast, but they’re useless without technique and the ability to consistently express those physical qualities on demand in a coordinated manner.

Jumping rope not only allows you to develop these qualities individually but also trains your body to seamlessly integrate them in concert with one another.

4) Improve Functional Mobility and Reinforce with Strength and Stability

Dr. John Rusin, the Strength Doc.

If you have goals of becoming an elite athlete, functional mobility is a pivotal aspect of high performance.

If your first thought in achieving Gumby-like mobility is with the addition of more stretching and foam rolling to training program, think again.

Get Your Free Athleticism CheckList, ASAP!

Whether stretching and rolling works is still under academic debate but one thing holds true; neither of these modalities are going to streamline translatable mobility like the pristine execution of accentuated loaded eccentrics to your training schedule.

johnrusin, How to Improve Athleticism

You have most likely already had a taste of the basics of accentuated loaded eccentrics in foundational barbell movements like the Romanian deadlift. With the operative word being “accentuated,” this type of training method is largely dependent on the execution of prescribed tempos and extended ranges of motion.

Increasing the time under tension during the eccentric phases of big compound movements while moving into the last 10% of available range will strategically micro-tear facial layers and muscle tissue, while also retraining neural receptors to adapt to extended ranges of motion under load.

In other words, you’ll build strength, stability, and increase range of motion all in one.

Give it a shot, and remember this method can be used for nearly any movement pattern of muscle group. The key is in the execution– own your movement, challenge your body and reap the benefits of Olympian level mobility.

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5) Incorporate Basic Movement Patterns Like Skipping

Tony Gentilcore of Tonygentilcore.com

I like to use skipping drills with many of my general fitness population clients. Most have spent YEARS in front of a computer and their idea of athleticism is taking the stairs over the elevator. People don’t move a lot anymore and end up having the movement quality of a crowbar.

It’s funny: I’ll say to someone, “we’re going to warm-up with some skipping drills,” and many will roll their eyes and chuckle as if to say “dude, really? Skipping?” Then I watch them skip and I’m the one who ends up laughing.

Skipping is a nice way to help build “groove” proper sprinting mechanics (opposite arm/leg swing), not to mention is a low-grade drill that pretty much anyone can do without risk of injury.

It’s a nice way to “extend” a warm-up or to introduce SOME form of athletic movement if they haven’t done anything more than walk to the water cooler in the past ten years.

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6) Balance Training based on Neural Demands 

When setting up any training program or workout, you need to place more neurologically demanding exercises early in the week, and early in each session.

In other words, neural demands are the requirements placed on the nervous system for the ideal execution of an exercise. 
Athletes require high speed, technical, multi-joint movements like sprinting, jumping, and compound lifts. In these exercises, the nervous system is the driver of performance.

If you’re blasting cleans with excess fatigue the nervous system fails to send signals to the muscles fast enough to allow technique execution of the exercise.

weight-lifting-for-women-2, How to Improve Athleticism

In the case of sprinting under fatigue, you’re unable to produce maximal efforts and training conditioning rather than truly increasing speed, all while increasing the risk of injury due to technical changes. This leads to missed lifts, altered technique, and potentially wreckin’ yo gains.

Keep the high-intensity exercises like sprinting, cleans, or near-maximal lifts with full recovery in the beginning of your workouts.

Exercises towards the velocity portion of the graph (i.e. speed) are obviously faster and more sensitive to changes in technique than slower speed exercises like heavy deadlifts or squats.

To get jacked to the max start your workout with explosive movement like sprints, jumps, or throws and then hit the weights to get stronger and create muscular damage for growth.

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7) Build your Base of Strength to Improve Athleticism

Ben Bruno of benbruno.com

For most gym-goers, a basic strength- training program will go a long way in improving athleticism. Keep the specialized exercise programs for more advanced athletes and hammer full-range-of-motion strength training.


Training with good form and in a progressive manner will give you a bigger bang for your training buck than a lot of the fancier “sport specific” drills, especially until you have a foundation of strength.

Emphasize major lifts with sound technique, get strong and develop your base of strength. This sets the table for improved training with more sports specific drills going forward.

8) Move Explosively Everyday

Nick Tumminello of Nicktumminello.com

If you’re like most lifters, you stopped rapid, explosive movement years, if not decades ago.
Rather than solely lifting heavy, incorporate explosive movement and do something fast every day.” That means you should sprint, throw, punch, or jump regularly.

Being jacked and strong is nice, but expressing strength fast and generating tons of power separates the contenders from the pretenders.

Moreover, rather than spending countless hours refining technique on Olympic lifts, it’s best to use exercises with an accelerated learning curve to train the same qualities: explosive power, nervous system activation, and activation of high threshold muscle fibers.

Whether your goals are physique or athletic oriented, you’ll reap huge benefits from explosive throws, pushes, and jumps. By bridging the gap between strength and speed, your nervous system functions at a faster, more efficient rate to improve firing rates of muscles on your big lifts.

Add in jumps for the lower body and push-up variations or explosive throws for three sets of five reps with light resistance after your movement training or directly after your warm-up.

That way, you’ll improve neural activation, better recruit muscle fibers, and prepare the body for activity and sport. 

9) Incorporate Multi-planar Training

Travis Pollen, the Fitness Pollenator

As an amputee, I might be a little biased, but single-leg training with the aforementioned exercises will boost athleticism, especially if you’ve been spending all your time on conventional barbell exercises.

Train unilaterally: multi-planar split squats and lunges, single-leg stiff-legged deadlifts, single leg hurdle jumps, even single-leg hang cleans.


Most lifts take place solely in the sagittal plane, yet sports are chaotic and take place with frontal, sagittal, and transverse plane movements. All movements have forces in multiple planes, but it serves the average gym-goer well to incorporate direct multi-planar movements.

While you must master basic exercise first, incorporating movements that require greater stabilization throughout the entire body will undoubtedly improve a variety of qualities that contribute to athleticism. There are the obvious ones like strength and power and then some less obvious ones, too, like mobility, stability, balance, and proprioception.

10) Build Up Multi-level Strength

Chad Landers of Push Private Fitness

 To improve athleticism get stronger, both in an absolute and relative sense. 90% of people will never have the issue of being too strong to excel in sports. As a result, improving strength and training with a variety of rep ranges to set your infrastructure for speed, stability, power, and improvements in body composition.

It’s imperative to note that you don’t need to train at 90, 95% of your one-rep-max, save that for the power lifters.

Instead, hammer the 3-5 rep range with 80% 1-RM in the “big lifts” like squats, deadlifts, presses, cleans, rows and pull-ups.” You’ll still build strength without excessive stress that crushes the high training demands of athletes.

Not only do the lighter loads add a greater speed component, they reduce the risk of technical breakdowns and form.

11) Improve Rotational Strength and Power

Kennet Waale is a facilitator, coach and founder of Move Strong and www.kennetwaale.com.

Power is vector specific, so it requires athletes to train rotational skills directly. The four exercises below are thoroughly explained in the videos regarding execution to help you build rotational strength and power. Following is an outline of how you could use the exercises to improve rotational power and strength in a more traditional athletic performance program.

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A proper periodization plan is obviously important and practicing the foundations is of utmost importance to master any skill. Don’t let your ego come in the way – start light; master the movements and progress the weights and tempo as you go. Soon, you’ll be swinging and punching harder with specific rotational power.

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  • Males +70kg start with: 20kg Kettlebell
  • Males -70kg start with: 16kg Kettlebell
  • Females +60kg start with: 16kg Kettlebell
  • Females -60kg start with: 12kg Kettlebell
  • Stick with the above weights for the first three weeks before you decide to increase it when technique is optimal.


Day 1: Lower BodyDate:   Week 1 Week 2 Week 3
A1) Half Dragon Press (Weeks 1&2)Full Dragon Press (Week 3) Weight *As Above *As Above *As Above
Sets vs. Reps 3×5/side 3×6/side 3×8/side
Speed Controlled Controlled Controlled
Rest 1-2 minutes 1-2 minutes 1-2 minutes
A2) Depth Jumps Weight      
Sets vs. Reps 3×5 3×6 3×6
Speed Explosive Explosive Explosive
Rest 60-120sec 60-120sec 60-120sec
B1) Sumo Deadlifts Weight 50%1RM 55%1RM 60%1RM
Sets vs. Reps 3×6 3×5 4×4
Speed Explosive Explosive Explosive
Rest 0 0 0
C1) Rotational Medicine Ball Tosses Weight 3kg 4kg 4kg
Sets vs. Reps 3×6-8 3×8-10 3×8-12
Speed 5-0-2 5-0-2 5-0-2
Rest 90sec 90sec 90sec
C2) Walking Lunges with Bar in Front Weight      
Sets vs. Reps 3×10/leg 3×10/leg 3×12/leg
Speed   5-0-2 5-0-2


Day 2: Upper BodyDate:   Week 1 Week 2 Week 3
A1) Lateral Cleans Weight *As Above *As Above *As Above
Sets vs. Reps 3×5/side 3×6/side 3×8/side
Speed Controlled Controlled Controlled
Rest 1-2 minutes 1-2 minutes 1-2 minutes
A2) Push Ups w/Clap Weight      
Sets vs. Reps 3×5 3×6 3×6
Speed 2-0-2 2-0-2 2-0-2
Rest 60-120sec 60-120sec 60-120sec
B1) 1-Arm Dumbbell Floor Press Weight 50%1RM 55%1RM 60%1RM
Sets vs. Reps 3×6 3×5 4×4
Speed Explosive Explosive Explosive
Rest 0 0 0
C1) Rotational Swings Weight *As Above *As Above *As Above
Sets vs. Reps 3×8-12/side 3×8-12/side 3×8-12/side
Speed 5-0-2 5-0-2 5-0-2
Rest 90sec 90sec 90sec
C2) Cry Babies Weight      
Sets vs. Reps 3×6-10/side 3×6-10/side 3×6-10/side
Speed   5-0-2 5-0-2

Video Tutorials:

The Dragon Press Half Rotation


The Dragon Press Full Rotation

The Lateral Clean



The Rotational Swing

12) Improve Thoracic Mobility for better Overhead Movement

Dean Somerset of Deansomerset.com

Thoracic mobility gains could be made through improving breathing patterns and glute engagement.


Stay with me, as I know it sounds crazy, but the implications are pretty powerful. For breathing work, inhalation involves the expansion of the rib cage and extension of the thoracic spine, helping you pull in larger volumes of air during inhalation. As a result, this increases movement in thoracic mobility and stability for overhead movements.

For the glutes, their glute contraction has a massive impact within a very short period of time to help increase thoracic drive. In a situation where the glutes aren’t being used, the pelvis can be held with a bit more anterior tilt, which causes a compensatory movement of the lumbar spine into more lordosis, or extension.

To balance this out, the thoracic spine winds up getting more kyphotic, or flexed so as to keep your head vertical over your feet and keep you from falling over.

Flexing the glutes helps to pull the pelvis into slightly more posterior tilt, which reduces the drive on the low back into extension and thus reduces the drive into the thoracic spine into flexion. It’s simple tip with profound, performing improving implications.

The combined aspect of breathing in more air, opening the lungs, and flexing the glutes, increases thoracic extension range of motion rapidly, which can help put you into a better position to overhead press while stabilizing the pelvis for less discomfort and pain in overhead movements.

13) Don’t Sacrifice Nutrition

Kedric Kwan of Kedrickwan.com

 With all the training sessions and high demands on game day, athletes have an extremely high-energy output.

This gives the perception that because of the high-energy output, athletes don’t have to watch what they eat and body composition is last on their list.

Unfortunately, most athletes crush insane amount of junk, wrecking body composition and reducing recoverability. If you’re a recreational athlete and scarf skittles like Marshawn Lynch, you’ll turn into a slob rather than a high-performance machine.









Even though most of us aren’t looking to be a stage ready bodybuilder anytime soon, improving body composition can help improve athletic performance.

Seriously, body fat doesn’t produce force the way muscle can and may decrease relative strength by increasing bodyweight.

The better your body composition is and the higher the ratio of muscle you have to fat, the more force you’re cable of producing. This force, under the right training conditions will enhance your athletic potential.

By periodizing your nutrition, being aware of your food intake and using specific supplements will help improve your body composition.

Instead of eating everything in sight thinking you’ll burn it all off during training or competition, focus on your body composition with proper nutrition.

Besides, who doesn’t want to be a badass on the pitch while looking jacked on the beach?

14) Incorporate the Medicine Ball Back Toss for Explosive Power

Joey Percia of Percia Performance

One of my favorite drills to use with clients to improve athleticism, more specifically jumping ability, is the overhead backward medicine ball toss for height. I like the throw for height opposed to distance because it decreases the likelihood of over extending the low back in an attempt to get more power, which is a common fault for beginners and those new to the movement.

Most clients who haven’t jumped in years let their arms flop around like wet noodles or tuck them tight to the side like pencil diving in a pool. Not only is this disadvantageous for jumping but it’s an awkward thing to see. This movement gives the client a basic understanding of using an effective arm swing, gets the CNS jacked up and most importantly, it’s fun.”

15) Start Sprinting to Improve Athleticism

Option One: Sprinting before lifting is ideal for improving performance by potentiating the nervous system for heavy and explosive training.

This comes with a risk versus reward trade-off as sprinting done before training must be enough to spark the nervous system, yet low enough in volume and intensity to not fatigue the body and hinder lifting ability. When fatigue is managed, strength performance, conditioning, and athleticism will skyrocket.


After your dynamic warm-up (that you’re already doing, right?), do some submaximal speed drills like skips and low-intensity sprints for 5-10 minutes.

Low volume, short distance sprints performed before strength training help prevent injury and improve performance, as opposed to doing a technical, neurologically demanding exercise after training when fatigue predisposes you to injury.

Perform sprints two days per week. Start with 5 sprints of 10-20 yards with 30-60 seconds of recovery and add one sprint per week, maxing out at 10 sprints.

Option Two: Sprints Conditioning After a Lift

Sprints require sound mechanics and practice before you can pile on tons of volume, a process to which most gym rats aren’t willing to dedicate time. With that in mind, sprinting for conditioning must be done sub-maximally on either a hill or incline to prevent overstriding and hamstring injuries.

How to Improve your Athleticism: Wrap Up

Your body is an integrated system and should be trained as such. When in doubt, training for improving performance builds a foundation for better training of aesthetic goals, bringing you the total package of a lean, strong, athletic body. 

Take a few minutes to review your training and ask, “Where can I improve my performance?”


I put together a brief checklist covering all 15 tips, on one short list for you to throw in your gym bag. Download for free below to optimize your athleticism. 

Get Your Free Athleticism CheckList, ASAP!

10 Sure-Fire Ways to Squat More Weight

Squats are lifting loyalty for curing chicken leg syndrome’ and building high-performance muscle mass for good reason–they work.

Squats develop total body strength, stimulate tons of total body muscle growth,  and improve athleticism. Yep, the squat reigns king among bang-for-your buck exercises.

Problem is, most lifters have the mobility of a cast iron skillet and lack ability to execute the squat safely and effectively.

Join the Community and Get the Beastmode Front Squat Guide, 100% Free

This poses a huge problem—If you don’t squat safely and effectively a powerful tool becomes limited at best, dangerous at worst. To maximize the squat you need mobility to reach proper position and the stability to control movement through the  intended range of motion.

“To maximize the squat you need the mobility to reach proper position and the stability to control movement through the intended range of motion.”

It’s time to maximize your squat potential through improving technique, mobility, and execution to take your high-performance training to another level. With these 10 Sure Fire Tips you’ll be Squat More Weight, build more muscle, and improve athleticism in no time.

1.) Train for Maximum Strength

Obvi bro…right?

Here’s the thing—despite the fact that you need to train heavy to build maximum strength of people still neglect heavy weights. Yes, training with submaximal loads will spare your joints and nervous system to a degree, but to maximize submaximal training you need a base of absolute strength.

Training at 60% 1-rm for speed is much more effective when your 1-RM is 1.5-2x bodyweight. Sorry bub, you won’t get much squatting with a 135lb max and trying to be explosive with loads of 75-85lbs.

While heavy lifting is generally defined as 85%+ maximum effort for multiple sets of one to five reps, It’s best to avoid missing lifts. Missing lifts zaps your nervous system, engrains poor technique, and wrecks your confidence—a death sentence for your training or that of your clients.

Hit reps the you know you’ll make and save yourself for the occasional max-out attempts, unless you want to wreck your nervous system and technique.

2.)Train Submaximal Reps for Power

Strength-speed and speed-strength are synonymous with power. They produce a sky-high power output compared with longer-duration, lower-velocity maximum strength exercises.

“Compare a tractor-trailer and a Ferrari. It’s great to have a ton of horsepower, but for high performance, it’s best to generate horsepower rapidly.”

squat more weight

For breaking lifting plateaus or achieving more weight-room transfer from athletes, power development is key. Compare a tractor-trailer and a Ferrari. It’s great to have a ton of horsepower, but for high performance, it’s best to generate horsepower rapidly.Remember: Power= Work/Time

Most research shows that maximum power is achieved through moving moderate loads at high velocity with loads of 40-60% of your 1RM. Depending on the athlete, there will be differences within this range and some experimentation will be needed to find what’s best.

For a big squat, speed squats are ideal for power development and technical practice. These can be used as long as a decent base of absolute strength is present and technique isn’t an issue.

3.)Train Speed and Speed-Strength

Speed-strength works the lower-load, higher-velocity component of the force velocity curve to train explosive power. Once again, the greater your base of absolute strength, the easier it will be to express explosive strength. For most lifters, keep the emphasis on explosive jumps that match the biomechanics of the squat closest, i.e. jump squats.



There are tons of variations that address speed of movement, landing mechanics, and power without too much risk. Your best choices are broad jumps, vertical jumps, and box jumps to increase your rate of force development and explode through sticking points. Stick to single-response jumps and ensure sound landing mechanics before moving to multi-response jumps.

[Side Note: If you’re an athlete that requires speed for on-field dominance there needs to be a premium placed on it. In this case intense movement skills like acceleration and top end speed should be the first priority in your training, not lifting maximal weight.]


4.) Squat Twice Per Week

Multiple squatting sessions per week maximizes technical and neuromuscular efficiency through training at variable intensities. Squatting twice per week allows you to focus on one heavy and one speed session. Separate these sessions by 48-72 hours for full recovery.

“Targeting the squat pattern with multiple sessions per week while addressing the force-velocity spectrum leads to greater gains in power, strength, and explosiveness.”

I like to combine a speed-strength method before squatting, followed by maximum strength (85-95+%) on the first squat day. On the second day, I’ll emphasize a pure speed movement with a submaximal strength-speed squat (40-75%). Targeting the squat pattern with multiple sessions per week while addressing the force-velocity spectrum leads to greater gains in power, strength, and explosiveness.

5.) Train to YOUR depth

Yes, building a big squat is great and should improve multiple performance parameters.

But the key word is “should.”

Too many coaches and athletes sell out for big totals in the “big three” and being hardcore with ass-to-grass (ATG) squats no matter what.

While ATG will earn you props on the interwebz, it doesn’t mean anything if you’re risking injury to the lumbar spine. If you squat to depth without a tuck – keep going. But if you can’t maintain position due to lack of core control or bony hip anatomy, don’t force a deep squat. 

6.) Cycle in Front Squats

Yes, back squats take the title as the King Builder, but front squats offer a plethora of benefits:

  • Increased core integrity, allowing greater depth without compromised spinal position and, thus, greater relative muscle activation at lighter weights compared to the back squat.
  • Similar muscle activation of the back squat without as much joint compression and shear stress due to using less weight.
  • Increased strength requirements of the thoracic extendors to hold position – a bonus for desk jockeys with kyphotic posture.

If you’re into 3,000+ word blogs full of biomechanics, research, and front squat nerdin’ then check out this full post.
Otherwise, here are a few highlights:  http://bachperformance.com/training/how-to-front-squat/

Benefits of Front Squats:

  • Increase core integrity and greater depth for greater relative muscle activation. By staying upright and activated in the anterior core you’re less likely to have “butt-wink”.
  • Similar muscle activation of the back squat without as much joint compression and shear stress. Less weight, same muscle activation and lower risk of injury? Count me in homie.
  • Increase strength requirements of the thoracic extendors and anterior core to hold position and resist flexion. Meaning your abs and upper back work harder during the exercise.

7.) Spread the Floor

Allowing the knees to buckle in, known as valgus collapse, is a great way to reinforce poor mechanics and set yourself up for a significant knee injury. Prevent valgus collapse by spreading the floor and pushing the knees  out during the squat. This emphasizes hip and posterior chain development and skyrocketing your squat numbers.

Yes, some high-level powerlifters let the knees dive in during their squat, but you’re not the genetic freak and powerhouse they are.

Letting the knees cave engrains dangerous technique, especially if it leads to uncontrolled valgus collapse in sport or recreation activities. In other words, don’t be an idiot and let the knees cave in– you’ll probably bust your shit and end up in rehab rather than the gym.

8.) Train the pause

If you’re squatting to depth, you need to be stable in the bottom position. Train the pause by using submaximal loads and squatting to maximum depth while maintaining trunk integrity (this means no butt-wink). Unless you’re training for a big total and need to hit certain depth, the risk versus reward IS NOT worth a rock-bottom squat under load in the presence of butt-wink.

9.) Bend the Bar

Don’t be lazy with the bar. Get your Hulk on and try to bend it around your body. If you’re not actively applying force to the bar, the bar will act on you – jumping off or burying you in failure.

“If you’re not actively applying force to the bar, the bar will act on you.”

how to squat more weight

Drive your elbows down and back to engage the lats, provide a larger shelf for the barbell, and create additionally stability in the trunk. Solomonow, et al concluded that over 200 muscles are activated during squat performance. Use them all to maximize your squat performance.

Additionally, you’ll prevent the bar from jumping off your back during explosive squats, improving rep quality and decreasing injury risk. You don’t want to be that chump who loses a barbell behind your back during training anyway.


10.) Rack at the correct height

We’ve all seen it: a rack set-up too high, a calf-raise walkout followed by the poor sap nearly cracking his skull when re-racking. Besides inappropriate barbell loading, improper rack set-up is the most preventable way to get injured.

Set the rack up with the barbell set between nipple and shoulder height, low enough to allow you to squat to weight out and easily re-rack, as well. Make your mark and write down the “notch” in your workout log until it’s habit.


Wrap Up

Sick of getting planted by your squats?
Good. Implement these 10 Sure-Fire Ways to Squat More Weight and you’ll be adding plates in no time.
As always, Optimize your technique first, and then start piling on plates for long-term success.

Join the Community and Get the Beastmode Front Squat Guide, 100% Free



1. Solomonow, M., et al. “The Synergistic Action of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament and Thigh Muscles in Maintaining Joint Stability.” Am J Sports Med. 1987 May-Jun;15(3):207-13. Accessed November 18, 2014.

photo credit: Derek Walker Photo (Derk Photography) via photopin cc

Part 3 Training Essentialism: Eliminate Useless Exercises

In today’s post we”ll work together to Eliminate Useless Exercises to optimize your training. Before we dive into that lets rehash what we covered in the past two posts.

First, we covered the essential pieces what every workout needs. The 80/20 if you will, that give you the most bang for your buck. Training for one goal while ensuring progressive overload in the major movements is key to long-term results. If you haven’t read part one What Every Workout Needs please do so now.

In part two we addressed the biggest issue of all: training consistency. A plan is only as good as it’s execution. To set yourself up for success you must understand your limits and create a plan that accounts for your goals and busy lifestyle. Your training isn’t 100% perfect for your goal, but a program performed with focus and intensity consistently will beat the perfect program performed sporadically every time.

Moving on my friends. It’s time to delve into the truth about elimination. I don’t mean throwing away all your clothes, getting rid of your possessions, and moving to a shack in Guam, but eliminating unnecessary barriers in training. The biggest problem most guys have is focusing on too many damn goals at once. You have a limited attention. Remember this: You can do anything, but not everything.

Limited Attention:

Throughout the day you have a limited attention. Despite all the advances in technology that make information easily attainable it’s only possible to absorb so much. As an example, Tim Ferris breaks it down into attention units.

The choice-minimal lifestyle becomes an attractive tool when we consider two truths:

1) Considering options costs attention that then can’t be spent on action or present-state awareness.

2) Attention is necessary for not only productivity but appreciation.


Too many choices = less or no productivity

Too many choices = less or no appreciation

Too many choices = sense of overwhelm

Tim Ferriss breaks attention down to “Attention units.”

If you start the day with 10 attention units, have a complicated workout with percentages, a choice of six squat variations, fluctuating volume, and advanced methods it might demand 3/10 daily units calculate and complete. If work, family obligations, and a big side project take up 9 attention units before you get to your workout we have a problem— attention debt. Focus diminishes, effort dwindles, and your workout sucks.

It’s safe to say, after a grueling day even a Tracy Anderson workout is a strain for your mental capacity.

Side note: What in the actual hell is this exercise?

Photocredit: www.lookgreatnaked.com/blog/stay-away-from-the-pink-dumbbells/

Don’t Strive For Exercise Variety

Don’t strive for variation—and thus increase option consideration—when it’s not needed. Too many choices zaps your focus and negate your ability to put into energy into what matters most like building strength in major, multi-joint lifts. You should enjoy exercise, but remember exercise is a results-driven with task, not solely enjoyment driven. Your goal is to create a physiological response in the body to build muscle, shred fat, and improve athleticism. Stick with the major movement patterns, get stronger, and get a routine that works around your limited time.

Define, identify, and eliminate

Instead of giving up altogether you must first define what is essential to your goal. The next step is ruthlessly hacking away at the unessential. A plan is only as good as its execution—this is the way to set yourself up for success.

In this post I’m going to provide you with the path to stick to your goal, hack away at the unessential, and optimize your workout plans for optimal effort and consistency. I’ll use real-world examples from my clients to give you a template to hack away your workout and focus on the important parts. As a result, you’ll have a clear vision of the goal and the brainpower to do it.

Remove the Unessential:

Before hacking away chunks of your workout you must first define what is essential. These steps help you define what’s essential to your goal, and what must be eliminated.

1.) Define Your Goal and Stick to It

If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve how will you possibly make the changes to make it happen?

It won’t happen. Define your goal, and as Dan John says “ The goal is to keep the goal, the goal.” If you constantly change workout goals and never see them through you’ll never have success. Rep schemes, exercises, and programs shouldn’t always change—the body needs to strain and adapt to stress to grow. Patience, dedication, and time are required. It’s painfully difficult in today’s “everything right now” world, but all true accomplishments take time. Define your goal and stick to it until it’s complete.

Example Goals:

“ I want to look awesome naked by losing fat and gaining muscle. I want to look better than guys 20 years younger than me and be able to play sports with my kids.”

“ I want to be strong. I don’t care what else. I want to be able to lift a fricken’ house.”

“I want to gain muscle so I (begrudgingly) fill out my schmedium t-shirt and have to buy a large. This will be 2-3 inches on my chest and – or so.”  

2.) Identify Your Obstacles To Reaching The Goal

Here’s the fun part: Take an introspective look at your training and lifestyle to see what factors hinder you from reaching your goal.

Take these examples from my clients:

“I work 60 hours per week and start missing gym sessions after I start training 5 days per week.”

“ I can’t eat enough calories following an intermittent fasting diet to support training and muscle growth.”

“ My kids are in hockey season, I run my own business, and I need for time for my family. I’ll train 30 minutes 4-5 days per week, but can’t do longer workouts. The sacrifice isn’t worth neglecting my family.”

Identify in order to eliminate. Look at the big picture and your whole lifestyle.What obstacles are the biggest roadblock to my success?

Are they removable?

Do they fix more than one problem?

If the answer is “yes” to any or all of these problems then take the next step to elimination.

3.) Remove the Obstacles

Identifying and being aware of what’s holding you back is great, but you need to take action on and remove your obstacles. As the father of the light-bulb (and maybe light sabers?) Thomas Edison said, ” Knowledge without action is meaningless.”

No-one will do this step for you—it takes real willpower to remove obstacles. That’s why building an awesome body is more than physical—it’s mental growth, sacrifice, and determination.

Obstacles you remove/ changes you could make to fit the goals above could be:

– One less training day per week

– Take out isolation work

– Reduced rest periods

– Shorten up your fasting window to get more calories

– Decrease training volume during workouts to allow a greater training frequency

Changes highly dependent on you and your goals. Using an example below I illustrate the entire process of hacking away the unessential with one of my online training clients:

Tom: Hey Eric, I need to reduce my training and switch to mornings. Tom JR. has hockey every night during the week, work is insane, and I need to spend my nights with my wife instead of the gym.

I still want to be a shredded Beast (*goal*), but I need more time for my family. (*Obstacle*)

Here’s how we *Removed the Obstacles*:

We shortened all Tom’s workouts and took out anything that appeared redundant. Tom still wanted to workout for 30 minutes each morning in his basement and only wanted the essentials. Each week we made sure Tom had the following movements:

– Weighted Carries

– Upper Body Pull

– Upper Body Push

– Lower Body Squat pattern

– Lower Body Hinge pattern

– Single Leg movement

– High-Intensity Intervals,Versa Climber

So a sample workout could be:

Dynamic Warm Up (Top-secret recipe)

1a. Weighted Chin Up 5×8

1b. One Arm Push-Up 5×8

2. 5x 30 sec (30 sec rest) Versa Climber SprintO


Dynamic Warm-Up

1a. Kettlebell Floor Press 4×12

1b. Goblet Squat 4×12

2a. Kettlebell Swing 3×20

2b. Farmers walk 3×50 steps

Spread out over the course of 5 days Tom gets in five efficient, challenging workouts without missing any major movements. Plus, he’s able to see his son play hockey, spend time with his wife, and relax. In the end training is about more than building an awesome body, it’s about building an awesome body and hitting your goals on your terms. Training should improve your life, rather than consume it.

Now it’s Your Turn:

Embrace essentialism into your workouts and eliminate all that is unnecessary. It’s a subtle way to produce dramatic results in the gym with less overwhelm.

-Focus on the big movements

-Ensure progressive overload

-Schedule your training when it fits your life. Make it a priority, but don’t sacrifice everything else for your gains.

-Remove unnecessary exercises

Define your goal, identify the obstacles, and ruthlessly remove them.

The biggest mistake most guys make is focusing on every finite details of their program. Keep your eye on the prize, remove anything that isn’t essential, and see the best gains of your life.

“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”-Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less


McKeown, Greg. “Subtract.” Essentialism. New York: Crown Business, 2014. 190-191. Print.

Ferriss, Tim. “The Choice-Minimal Lifestyle: 6 Formulas for More Output and Less Overwhelm.” Fourhourworkweek.com. 6 Feb. 2008. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

Recommended Reading:

The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

80/20 Pareto’s Principle

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