10 Exercises to Develop an Athletic Physique

August 16, 2017 by VAHVA Fitness

10 effective core and leg exercises to develop an athletic physique and improve your athletic performance!

If you are a martial artist, an athlete, a person who likes to play sports or you are just looking for more functionality and athletic performance, then these drills will be very helpful for you.

There are different phases in everyone's fitness journey. In the beginning developing control and building a good foundation is the most important thing.

Once there is a good foundation, then it's great to focus more on athletic training and explosiveness. Focusing on athletic training too soon will not produce good results and can be unsafe.

Before trying out the harder exercises, you should already have good levels of mobility (Movement 20XX is EXCELLENT for this!). Harder exercises will only be effective if you are ready to do them.

These exercises will dominantly focus on core & hip stability and strength

Stability is an undervalued attribute because not many understand the importance of it. How can working on your stability make you more athletic, more explosive and more agile?

Stability makes a massive difference in your ability to move. The better stability you have, the better base you have for producing power. Stability also allows you to move faster from one direction to another (agility).

If you look at the training footage of the best athletes (boxers, football players etc.), a great deal of training they do is stability training.

Yet, in the fitness world stability training is neglected and considered silly "functional training". This is all because it's hard to comprehend the effects of stability training and it requires a higher level of understanding to see the point.

Below are more information (benefits) and instructions to the exercises demonstrated in the video.


plyometric obliques drill for athletic training

Windmill is a plyometric exercise for the obliques and lower back.

Before trying the windmill, you should first add size and strength to your obliques (this will make your core look leaner and more athletic). Once the obliques are relatively strong, you can work on plyometrics like these ones.

Learning how to control your obliques and lower back muscles for core rotation is important, but for athletic purposes you also need to add explosiveness to your core.

Abs 20XX guide has everything you need to properly train the obliques: you will target all functions of the obliques (there are 4) and both upper and lower fibers.

Rotation of the core is one of the most important areas for pure athleticism and cannot be neglected.

Lateral Single Leg Deadlift

lateral deadlift athlete

Lateral deadlift is a sideways single leg deadlift variation that will work the lateral glutes and core muscles.

With general gym-goers, lateral movement and lateral glutes are heavily neglected despite the fact that they make a massive difference in your ability to move fast (agility).

Martial artists, fighters, tennis players, footballers and many other athletes MUST have good lateral movement or otherwise they can't compete.

Lateral deadlift will focus more on the control. You need to master control before trying out more explosive exercises like the one below.

Skater Jump

skater jump side to side

Skater jump will improve your lateral movement and target the lateral glutes among many other muscles like quads, hamstrings and core.

Skater jump comes after you already have built control and strength to your lateral glutes with exercises such as the lateral deadlift. You can find more effective glute exercises from this video.

Skater jump is a plyometric / explosive exercise for your lateral movement. It involves two phases: 1. explosive jump to the side and 2. landing phase where your legs and core need to stabilize hard.

Both explosive movement and the ability to stabilize are crucial for athletic performance.

Stability Deadlift

stability deadlift for athletes

Stability deadlift (single leg deadlift variation) is a phenomenal exercise to develop stability for your core and hips.

Core stability needs to be on a high level: your core should be as stiff and rigid as possible. Your core produces no movement - all movement comes from the hips!

Many different variations are demonstrated in the video. Where you keep your free leg (in the front or behind) and whether you move it or not, will dramatically change the exercise.

In order to keep the balance, your hip muscles need to stabilize HARD. This exercise will improve your balance and coordination tremendously well. 

If you are having problems with the balancing aspect, then work on these drills. Regular single leg deadlifts will also help.

Lateral Leg Swing

controlled leg lift raises

Lateral leg swing will open up the hips and work lateral glutes, adductors and hip flexors. Your core muscles (abs and obliques) are also worked.

Many athletes and martial artists use this drill for warming up and for a good reason: it's effective. 

If you want to produce better results with the lateral leg swing, focus on explosive swings but remember to have some control over the range of motion! 

Most people just swing the leg from side to side with no control whatsoever and although this works to some extent, it's not as effective as the variation where you have control over the range of motion.

The better you can stabilize the core, the better you can focus on the lower body muscles.


samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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