Train Like an Athlete Part 1

by Jim Steel

Alright, let’s try a training program that gets folks off of the hamster wheels and moves them outside. No hamsters allowed. What are hamsters? Those elliptical riders, treadmill joggers and bike riders who perform hour after hour of “cardio” in order to “get in shape.” I have no problem with the cardio machine work if the person is injured or has such limited time that he has to just get it in. The silliness comes in when the person exclusively does the cardio machines and never does anything that could be considered athletic. If you are healthy, get outside and train. Run, skip, hop, hell just move. Don’t forget about the weight room, either. No machines allowed; just the bar and some plates. A power rack is pretty essential but if you don’t have one you can still train.

My goal here is to provide a 3 part program to get someone into athletic shape. For what purpose, you might ask?

1.      To be able to perform real life activities at a second’s notice

2.      To make your training more efficient

3.      To have more confidence in yourself

4.      Because it’s fun—a lot more fun than those machines

I’m going to give you three different workouts designed to get you in “athletic shape,” i.e. a condition that you’d be proud to be in. I’m going to go on the assumption that you have some type of lifting background. I’m not going to go over form. Start slowly. Don’t do extra work. Have patience. The workouts are short to eliminate the excuses that come when faced with longer workouts. There will be three different phases. In each phase, the workouts will get tougher. I want you to use percentages with your training. It’s not that hard to figure out—if you max in the squat at 300lbs, and the workout calls for 80% 5×3, your weight is 240. Don’t panic. You can estimate your max, but be conservative. If the exercise doesn’t call for percentages, lift a weight that is tough but don’t go to failure. A typical week would have Monday as lift day 1, Tuesday as run day 1, Wednesday as a rest day, Thursday as lift day 2, Friday as run day 2, and Saturday as run day 3.

Here are the three weeks in Phase 1. The lifting changes but the running does not. After three weeks it will change. Get to work!


Week 1

Day 1

30 box jumps (find something to jump onto)
Squat 50%x5 60%x4 70% 10×2 with a minute rest in between
Bench press 50%x5 60%x4 70% 5×4
Chin ups 20 total (split the reps up anyway you want 4×5, 10×2, 2×10, 1×20)
Dips x10-15

Day 2

30 tuck jumps (jump bringing knees to chest)
Deadlift 50%x5 60%x4 70% 10×2 (1 minute rest in between)
Press 5×5
Bent over row 5×6-10
Dips 3×10-15

Week 2

Day 1

30 box jumps
Squats 50%x5 60%x4 70%x2 75% 8×2 (90 seconds rest between sets)
Bench press 50%x5 60%x4 70%x2 75% 4×4
Chin ups x24
Dips 4×10-15

Day 2

30 tuck jumps
Deadlift 50%x5 60%x4 70%x2 75% 8×2 (1 minute rest in between)
Press 6×5
Bent over row 5×6-10
Dips 4×10-15

Week 3

Day 1

30 box jumps
Squat 50%x5 60%x4 70%x2 75%x2 80% 6×2 (2 minute rest between sets)
Bench press 50%x5 60%x4 70%x2 75%x2 80% 4×3
Chins x28
Dips 4×10-15

Day 2

30 Tuck jumps
Deadlift 50%x5 60%x4 70%x2 80% 6×2 (2 minute rest between sets)
Press 7×5
Bent over row 5×6-10
Dips 4×10-15

You can throw curls and ab work anywhere you want, and feel free to superset assistance exercises.


General warm up: jog, skip, hop, jump, backwards run for 5 minutes

Day 1

Ten 30, 40, 30’s

Start at a goal line on a field. Put cones or some type of marker at the goal line, the 30, the next 30 and the goal line. Here’s how this works: For the first 30 yards, I want you to sprint at about 65% speed. When you hit the 30, sprint as fast as you can until you reach the other 30, then reduce your speed to 65% for the remaining 30 till you reach the next goal line. Rest time is variable. If you are in great shape, take a short walk to the 20 yard line and back. Dying after the first one? Walk the full length of the field as your rest period

Day 2

Find a hill or stadium steps and run them. You have to perform at least 10 reps for it to count. Sprint up, WALK down. The hill should be at least 30 yards. The stadiums…take what you can get, but 50 steps are perfect. When running stadiums, make sure you skip stairs, touching every other step.

Day 3

1 mile run: Not a slow jog. Here is how I want you to do it. I got this from one of my old Muay Thai teachers, Mr. K. Change the speed and the way you run. I like to count steps. 100 steps of jogging, 100 steps of a backwards run, 100 steps sprinting, 100 steps skipping, 100 reps side shuffling. If you can’t make a mile, cut it in half. After the runs you should be tired, even slightly wrecked, especially after the hills. Now get after it—ask me questions on the forum. Do it.

Stay tuned for Part 2…

Left to right: Coach Steel, High School Football Sensation Zack McMenamin, Johnny Pain


9 Responses

  1. David Long

    This is such a spot on piece. I have not read anything that concise and sensible on training in a while. Quality stuff

    December 3, 2010 at 7:56 pm

  2. Shane Treichel

    You have been coaching for quite awhile I bet. You start the article with a picture of a guy running in the snow just to stifle the bitching. I’m from Wisconsin and love it. This site is boss!

    December 3, 2010 at 9:56 pm

  3. Drew

    Thank you for this information. Excellent article!

    December 4, 2010 at 1:30 am

  4. WoF

    Great article coach! I’ve been half-assing my conditioning. Looking forward to part 2.

    December 5, 2010 at 4:05 pm

  5. zack

    sweet picture at the bottom!

    December 9, 2010 at 10:11 pm

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  7. Andy

    I’m going to follow this to gear up for Soccer in the spring. I’m a 36 y/o who works at a desk all day but enjoy real strength and conditioning. I also found out that there’s a Learn To Row program near my work in the spring so, I tailored my first sprint workout for the rower.

    10 intervals of 150M Row w/ 45 sec rest
    4 pulls at 65%
    5 pulls at 100%
    4 pulls at 65%

    Total Meters – 1642
    Avg Split – 131.3

    Will this suffice for one of the sprint workouts per week? Would it be better to do the row workout instead of the hill sprints (which are in my neighborhood), or just stick to the running? THANKS!!

    December 19, 2010 at 12:57 pm

  8. Ricky

    Hey coach, great piece. Been looking for a new challenge after finishing a recent 20rep squat cycle (man makers lol). How do you think this routine is placed for those trying to lean bulk?


    December 27, 2010 at 3:40 am

  9. Dan

    What sort of percentage/progression do you use for the presses

    January 2, 2011 at 4:19 pm

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