Phone: 614.871.9220

12 Holiday Exercises

BY: Nick Showman – TAD Sports Performance Coach – GHS Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach – Ohio Natural Bodybuilding Federation President

12 holiday exercises image

As the holidays approach, be sure that your athletes and clients don’t slide through the cracks with their training program.


Here are 12 Holiday Exercises that will keep athletes at any level healthy and strong.


Box Jumps– These are a great way to start any workout. The jumps will help athletes prepare for the more physically demanding strength movements in their workout. Master the basic box jump and then have your athletes move to more complicated variations of the movement. In a school setting I would recommend at least two sets of Plyo-Boxes.


Squat– If someone is athletic enough to play a sport, then they should without a doubt be squatting. Squatting develops stronger athletes like no other movement. To ensure safety, make sure every athlete goes through a proper progression to learn the exercise. Using a Full Rack can further help by having safety catches and adjustable bar settings.


Glute Ham Raise- Every single weight room should have a GHR. Nothing builds the posterior chain like this movement. When athletes squat or jump you probably notice some have their knees come in very much, this comes from weakness in the glutes. Perform this movement in the off-season and in-season and your athletes will be noticeably stronger.


Dips- I’m a big fan of doing bodyweight movements and I believe dips should be performed by all athletes unless there is an existing shoulder injury. If an athlete progresses on dips it will assist in the main pressing movements. Stick to bodyweight dips until an athlete can do sets of 20 with ease. The Open Dip Attachment is perfect for a high school weight room.


Chin Ups– Athletes should be performing some chin up variation after their main press movement. Weighted or just using bodyweight, all that matters is they are getting quality reps and not using a lot of momentum to complete each rep. If the racks in your weight room don’t have a chin up bar, try a wall mounted chin up station.


Ring Rows– A good way to get athletes to properly row is the ring row. These can hang easily over any rack or chin up station and athletes can make them harder or easier depending on their strength level.


Bench Press– I like the bench press as a main movement for athletes. I don’t think this exercise is the best upper body exercise, but if it is not included in your program, your athletes will do it on their own without any supervision. Include it in your program with proper coaching cues and make sure they aren’t cheating by raising their butt off the bench or not locking out each rep. Grab an adjustable bench to slide into a full rack and your team will be able to set up and tear down quickly.


Battle Ropes– I was hesitant on using the ropes for a while, but after seeing them in use at Granville High School and Total Athletic Development I do think they are a great conditioning tool for injured athletes. They can also be used as a finishing exercise on an upper body day.


Band Pull Apart– Most athletes only perform internal rotation movements during their given sport. This creates problems for the rotator cuff due to overuse and weakness in the posterior muscles of the shoulder. Using bands to perform the pull apart makes it easy for athletes to gauge the amount of resistance and doesn’t require much equipment.


Deadlift- The deadlift is probably my favorite exercise for the lower body. It builds an incredibly strong posterior chain and requires the athlete to use an exceptional amount of force. In the last two years I have become a big fan of using the hex bar instead of a straight bar due to the decreased possibility of injury.


Kettlebell Swing- The swing is a great exercise to use in the beginning of a strength training session. It requires you to engage your hips to swing the weight up and you have to be strong enough to control the weight on the way down as well.  This will help athletes progress with all triple extension movements.


Sled Push- Sled Pushes are an easy way to create competition during conditioning. On the Diesel Sleds you can load up to 9 45lb plates for athletes to push. The high handles and low handles feels like two different exercises. Every strength coach should strive to make competition a part of their program and this is easiest way to do that. With the Diesel Sled summer conditioning will never be the same.