5 Tips for Training Athletes for Strength AND Toughness


There's a lot of chatter going on regarding training athletes for speed and strength.

Some coaches feel we're not doing enough speed / sprint work.

Others realize that MANY athletes are too weak to sprint properly.

And, have we forgotten?

We need athletes to be TOUGH.

Give kids an opportunity to train on their own in a weight room today and you'll see some benching and lots of "chest work" and of course, lots of curls.

NO back training.

NO DEEP Squats.

Farmer walks?

They've NEVER heard of them or seen them.

And for all the Coaches out there doing their fancy training that was copied from a pro athlete on YouTube, forget it, you are NOT helping your athletes.

Here's 5 Tips for developing Strength & TOUGHNESS in athletes:

1) Get those Calisthenics in.

Athletes are NOT used to calisthenics anymore. If you're age 40 & older, you recall watching Rocky when you were 8 years old and you immediately began doing push ups, sprints and curls.

You had sand filled weights from SEARS & every kid in the neighborhood had weights in the garage or basement.

Raise the standards. Why are athletes struggling to do pull ups and push ups yet we're worried about speed ladders?

Bodyweight Bodybuilding is a GREAT program for high school and college athletes.

2) Odd Object Training.

I've always loved the challenges behind sandbags, tires and odd objects.

Marty Gallagher describes it as "Building the in between muscles" that free weights don't hit.

I am NEVER all odd objects or all free weights. I mix it up. We use everything that works.

Sometimes it's as simple as getting athletes to perform Farmer Walks. If athletes are only used to basic barbell lifts, get them hitting some carries.


3) Squat Deep.

MANY athletes can't do a proper bodyweight squat, let alone a heavy, deep squat.

You must teach athletes how to squat deep.

Raise the standard and do NOT allow half squat BS.

Start with bodyweight, then goblet squats, then front or back squats.

The athletes develop discipline and mental strength by getting out of their comfort zone to squat deep.

4) "Mental Toughness is Task Specific"

I don't recall who used the quote above but it is true. Some kids crush the weight room but get crushed in their sport. That is what we do NOT want.

That being said, learn how to implement some out of the weight room training that is general specific in nature.

Football Players wrestling via the sumo drill.

Wrestlers wrestling on the grass, no "normal" environment of a mat and referee.

5) Get Used to Competing

Sometimes, the weight room is a safe place for athletes.

No one racing them.

No one pushing them around.

It's important to add competition and elements of competition to get the athletes used to pushing themselves.

We don't need to complicate training, although we do need to pay attention to the fine details to create smart & effective training programs.

Building TOUGH & STRONG athletes takes time.

If the athlete isn't willing to commit to a long term program and living a Champion Lifestyle then he will NEVER get tough and will never achieve high levels of performance.

If you want to become a GREAT Coach, take advantage of our resources below:

The Underground Strength & Sports Performance Cert

Inside The Underground Strength Gym on ROKFIN

FREE Strength Courses


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