More Muscle, More Skill

More Muscle, More Skill

Q: How can I get bigger and more athletic at the same time?

A: First, make sure you’re doing five to 10 reps of the basic lifts (squat, deadlift, etc.) in your workout. By adding weight to the bar and food to your plate, you’ll get bigger and stronger. To get faster, and more agile, perform some kind of speed or plyometric work before your regular workouts. If you train three days per week, do sprints one day, box jumps the next, and footwork drills on the last day.

To build speed, do sprints of 10–40 yards. Perform five to 10 sets, resting 60–120 seconds between sets. Box jumps are a plyometric exercise and are excellent for power; do three sets of one to six reps with 60–90 seconds rest. For agility work, set up a few cones and practice basic changes of direction for five to 10 sets with 60–120 seconds rest. For example, you can run a few yards straight ahead, then side shuffle a few yards, back pedal, and side shuffle back to where you started (you will have run a square-shaped pattern).

No set of speed, plyometric, or agility training should ever last longer than 10 seconds. Also, be sure to warm up properly before undertaking this kind of training, and ease into it if you are new to it. Conditioning work could be done after training or, ideally, on another day. Jumping rope, swimming, jogging, walking, riding a bike or doing some shuttle runs for 20–30 minutes twice a week should be enough for you to maintain your conditioning while you work on getting bigger and faster.

Jason Ferruggia is MF’s chief training adviser, and the owner of

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