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Healthy You

Power Up: Exercises Every Athlete Should Know

Friday, January 12, 2018 8:29 AM

Athletes come in all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. Differences aside, all athletes should supplement their sports routine with additional training to build strength and prevent injury. Whether you are a dedicated yogi, marathon runner or recreational-league champion – the strength exercises below can help keep you strong, healthy and injury-free.

Valerie Damlos, PT, OCS, CMP, Clinic Manager of Outpatient Rehab Services at NorthShore, gives tips on some of the best exercises to add to your routine. Keep in mind that proper technique is very important, so be sure to familiarize yourself with each step. 

  • Squat. When preparing for a squat, stand so your feet are shoulder width apart, then turn your toes slightly outward. As you prepare to squat, push your butt back and lower yourself down as if you are going to sit in a chair. Remember to press your weight down through your heels and to keep your back straight. Make sure that your knees stay aligned with your feet and do not go inward. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
  • Bridge. Lie on your back and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor, hip width apart. Tighten your core and lift your hips in the air, keeping your back straight throughout the motion. To modify the exercise, tighten your gluteal (butt) muscles or only raise your hips as high as you can. To make the exercise more challenging, try lifting one leg off the ground, keeping your hips level. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
  • Plank. Facing the ground, place your hands directly under your shoulders with your feet on the ground. Push yourself up and hold the position so you are supporting your body weight in a straight line.  Keep your head aligned with your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. Keep your core completely engaged and do not allow your back to arch or sag. To modify this exercise, drop your knees to the ground while keeping a straight line from your shoulders to your hips and knees. To make the exercise more challenging, support your plank from your forearms. Hold for 10-30 seconds and perform 5-10 repetitions. 
  • Push Up. Starting in the plank position, look straight down between your hands, keeping your head aligned with your shoulders. Lower your body, bringing your elbows to a 45-degree angle away from your sides. Push up to the starting position and repeat. Keep your core engaged throughout the movement and keep your back straight. Lower your chest first and not your head. Remember to keep your head pulled back as you lower. To modify your push up, drop your knees. To make it more challenging, push up with your feet on a step or chair. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. 

As with any exercise routine, it is important to not overexert yourself. If you are in pain or are just starting a workout regime, you should consult with your doctor.

What is your favorite exercise to do? How to you make your exercises more challenging?