“How can I train to be a better athlete?” — RON S., TEMECULA, CA
Probably the same way you’re training now.
Coaches who argue that classic exercises like squats and presses aren’t “specific” enough to improve performance in a given sport are selling something. As long as you’re not training exclusively with machines and are performing movements that generally mimic what you do in sports, your training will have carryover.
Trying to replicate throwing a baseball, tackling a running back, or swinging a golf club in a gym is a waste of time and can even make you perform worse. Yet there are still some putz trainers who recommend using a weighted bat to improve swing speed for baseball players, which strength coach Mark Rippetoe had some fun exposing in his book Practical Programming for Strength Training: “Adding mass to a precisely weighted implement changes the execution of the skill...Swinging a weighted bat is a good way to practice swinging more slowly, a skill which might not prove useful unless the pitcher agrees to throw the ball more slowly.”
Sean Hyson, C.S.C.S., is the Men’s Fitness training director and author of 101 Best Workouts of All Time.