News flash: You don’t have to play sports to burn fat like an athlete. Sports drills that prepare the pros for competition are well known for their fat-torching benefits, says Robert Reames, CSCS, head fitness trainer for the Dr. Phil Show and author of Make Over Your Metabolism—and you can be using them to get lean. “In addition to burning fat, research also shows increases in strength, power, balance and coordination for these short duration, high-intensity physical activities,” says Reames. “I’ve used them with people for years, to great success.”
Adds Andrea Avruskin, DPT, a physical therapist and athletic trainer located in Las Vegas, Nevada: “Sports drills feel less like an exercise and more like a real sports activity,” she says, “so they are more fun than single-muscle exercises.”
Want to cash in on these benefits? We got Reames and Avruskin to provide their favorite drills. Do them twice a week (with two to three days rest in between), depending on your goals. “If you’re a tennis player, you can do them in place of your cardio workout,” says Reames. “However, if your goal is weight loss, you’ll want to supplement your cardio workout with these.” Get started now—and you should see increased speed, power, endurance and stamina after only a week.
1. DEATH VALLEYS (also known as: Suicides)
How to do it: You need a start line, plus a first sprint line, a second sprint line, and a third—and longest—sprint line. Each sprint will be twice as long as the last. For example, on a basketball court, start under the basket, sprint to the first foul line, touch, and then sprint back to the start. Next, sprint to half-court, touch, and then sprint back to start. Then, sprint all the way down across the court, touch the end line, and sprint back to the finish (under the basket). That's one Death Valley. (Note: Do these on an open running space such as a basketball court, tennis court or driveway—grass may be too slippery.)
Beyond the burn: This drill will also help you increase your speed, agility, quickness, stamina and endurance, says Reames, plus it’s great for sports that require the ability to accelerate and decelerate quickly, such as soccer and football.
2. KARAOKE STEPS (also known as: Grapevine)
How to do it: Facing forward, begin moving laterally to your left by stepping left with your left foot. Then, bring your right foot in front, then step out sideways again with your left foot, then step your right foot behind it. Continue this sequence for a set distance or the length of a room and then repeat, going in the opposite direction and moving laterally to the right. Keep arms in a “ready” position—as if you’re about to play a piano—elbows tight to the body or at 90-degrees with palms open.
Beyond the burn: Doing this drill will also help with coordination, balance, and lateral speed, says Reames. It's great for all sports that involve lateral or multi-directional movement, such as football, soccer and basketball.