Top five exercises to improve athleticism, performance

Athletic training is a great way to transform your body while improving your health and functionality

Vahdaneh Vahid

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Athletic training is a great way to transform your body while improving your health and functionality. Here are five top exercises to help turn you into a lean, mean, athletic machine.

Jump squats

These are a great way to help you build explosive power in your lower body while tightening and strengthening your core.

- stand with your feet hip-distance part
- quickly lower yourself into a squat position
- keep your hips back and thighs parallel to the floor
- explode, getting as high as possible
- land softly on the balls of your feet before quickly sinking back into a squat, and repeat
- perform two to three sets of 20-25 repetitions

Single-arm kettlebell swings

Kettlebells are a brilliant tool to help you train in a functional way and really targeting all the major muscle groups in your body.

- stand with your feet wider than hip-distance apart
- hold the kettlebell with one hand at the center of your body
- hinge your hips back as you allow your trunk to slightly rotate, passing the kettlebell through the legs
- the empty hand should swing behind, and you should keep the palm turned out
- allow the movement to bring the kettlebell up vertically to the sky
- follow the swing on the way down and repeat the hinge on the hips, powering from your glutes and rotating the trunk again at the bottom phase
- perform two to three sets on each arm - 20-25 repetitions

10-meter sprints

Sprint training covers a short distance at maximum speed, allowing you to give 100 percent. This improves your explosiveness and speed, and is great for slimming.

- place one foot in front of you and keep your feet shoulder-width apart to obtain a good balanced position
- the weight should be distributed so about two-thirds of it is on the front foot
- bend the knees and lean forward
- explode up using your arms to drive forward and sprint as fast as possible for 10 meters
- stop, take 30 seconds to recover, and repeat 20-25 times

Wood chops

This is a great upper and lower body workout that can be used for cardio and strength work. Rotation exercises are great to build a connection between the upper and lower body, which in turn creates a strong core. This exercise can be performed with a dumbbell or a resistance band.

- stand with your feet hip-width apart
- hold your hands just to the outside of your left ankle, as in a squat position, and engage your core
- in one movement, pull your arms past your right shoulder as your torso rotates to the right
- return to the starting position
- complete three sets of eight to 12 repetitions on one side, then do the same on the other side, starting on your outside right ankle and rotating your torso to your left

High knee runs

This is a controlled sprint - you are running as fast as you can, but deliberately bringing your knees up as high as possible, which invariably slows you down.

- sprint with high knees for 20 meters
- stop and take a 30-second breather, then repeat
- these are much more taxing than 10-meter sprints, so start with 10-15 repetitions

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