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Bodybuilding for Athletes

I get asked all the time… Should I use bodybuilding to gain weight and get bigger, increase my strength and power if I’m an athlete? Or I should focus on strength training?

And the answer is both. You are going to use strength training AND bodybuilding to build the athletic strong better physique that you need to be that Division I football player whatever sport you’re playing.

Here’s the deal…

Follow a powerlifting routine using strength training parameters.

That means 3-5 reps with very heavy weight, long rest intervals, and following a routine that includes bench press, squat, dead lift and one of my favorites, the military press.

So let’s talk about the bodybuilding portion of your routine if you’re an athlete…

This is what I want you to consider. I use the term bodybuilding as an umbrella statement for the parameters associated with bodybuilding.

When I say parameters, I’m talking about the sets, reps, rest intervals, and your frequency. I am NOT talking about the same exercises.

You will NOT be doing many of the things a pro-bodybuilder will do, which is mostly for aesthetics, that have NO BUSINESS in an athletes strength training program.

You’re going to follow the parameters associated with bodybuilding which are:

  • 8 to 12 repetitions (maybe 15),
  • A 60 second rest interval
  • About 3 to maybe 4 sets

Your frequency may be that you hit that body part once or twice a week, but you are going to use exercises that are athletic.

The best way to make sure you are including athletic type exercises in your program is to make sure that they fit into one of the six categories of PRIMAL MOVEMENT PATTERNS.

That means your exercises have to mimic these movements: push, pull, bend, twist, lunge & squat AS A UNIT instead of isolating the specific muscles associated with those patterns.


Those are your primal movements. These are all the ways a human being must be able to move in order to be fully functional, athletic and a overall BAD ASS human being.

Primal Movements vs Isolation Exercises

Primal pattern (push): pushups
Isolation exercise: dumbbell flyes

Primal pattern (pull): pull-ups
Isolation exercise: bicep curl

Primal pattern (squats): front squat
Isolation exercise: leg extension

Primal pattern (bend): good mornings/deadlifts
Isolation exercise: isolating the hamstrings

The isolation exercises associated with bodybuilding do nothing for the person wanting to become a better athlete. However, the parameters associated with bodybuilding like the higher-to-mid rep range, shorter rest intervals and frequency are perfect.

Just remember that if you want to be athlete and gain weight, to use athletic moves but bodybuilding parameters.

Bodybuilding for athletes

can really be beneficial if you use it in this way.

If you are an athlete who also does bodybuilding, please be sure to leave your comment below and let us know how you use bodybuilding in your life to help you in your sport.

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