Sports and athletics are one of the best ways for children to improve their health and develop social, leadership, and discipline skills. In fact, 75% of parents with middle or high school aged kids say they actively encourage participation. No matter what sport they choose they’re bound to learn not only the intricacies of the given sport, but also how to better deal with people in all sorts of capacities.

Approximately 35 million kids sign up for organized sports every year and about 60% play them outside of school as well. One of the best ways to get better on the field is to put in the work off of it, especially in the gym. Besides getting better at a specific function associated with a sport, shooting three-pointers in basketball for example, becoming a better overall athlete is the best way to support your sport skills. Here are three gym exercises all high school athletes should add to their regular routine.

    1.) Squat: Considered the granddaddy of all lifts by many in the fitness world. While primarily a lower body exercise for glutes, quads, hips, etc., squats are revered by many because they’re really a full-body workout with numerous benefits. On top of working your lower body they also build great core, shoulder, and back strength from supporting the heavy weight. On top of the physical gains, squatting is one of the most basic human functions and one of seven “primal movement patterns” every human being should be able to perform. Think about it, squatting is how humans relieved their bowels for thousands of years. It’s only in the last couple hundred that the seated style toilet has become the norm. Learning how to squat can fix a lot of other issues you might be having as well.

    2.) Deadlift: The other “super” gym workout is the deadlift. Similar to the squat this is another lift that is known as a lower body workout, but really works virtually every part of your body. Back, arms, shoulders, and grip strength are all hit hard when you pick up weight off the ground with proper form. Deadlifts are also phenomenal at developing the transverse abdominal muscles, aka nature’s weight belt. This is the deep muscle and tissue fibers that greatly affect your core. Until you crest at least 400 pounds your body should be strong enough to do the job itself. Learning proper technique is crucial for this lift and should be done with instruction of some kind.

    3.) Press/Pull: Bench, overhead, and push ups are all forms of pressing workouts you can do to improve your chest, shoulder, and triceps muscles utilized in virtually every sport. Pull-ups and rows are pulling motions that are equally important for biceps and back.

Consistent time and effort in the gym can turn an average sports player into a highly-tuned athlete. Even those with great raw talent and skills can go a long way in high school sports, but they’ll never reach their maximum potential without implementing a quality workout program. Start with these functional strength exercises and watch the results crossover in no time.

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