Athletic Vital Signs: What they are and Why You Should Improve Them

toning workout

Many of you are probably already familiar with your vital signs; body temperature, pulse rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure.  These are typically the things your doctor is looking at when you’re in for a check up.  Aside from your body temperature, the other three factors can be improved, largely through your exercise regimen.

But today, we’re looking at four other vital signs you may not have been aware of – your athletic vital signs. Before we get into exactly what they are, let me first say, regardless of who you are, what you do, or your current level of fitness ability, striving to increase your athletic vital signs should be a top priority.  I don’t care if you’re a stay-at-home mom who couldn’t care less about becoming more athletic – increasing your athletic vital signs is going to help you achieve your weight loss or fitness goals faster.  Much faster.

Reason being, when you condition yourself properly, and gradually increase your athleticism, you inevitably change how your body looks and acts.  Most athletes are known for their low levels of body fat, high metabolic rates, and lean muscle mass – this stuff isn’t a happening as a coincidence.  The way they train and the intensity at which they train at are the contributing factors to their great bodies and health.  Just last week I wrote about the 8 best exercises to increase your athletic skill set, so today, I’m getting even more specific and talking about what you can do to directly affect your four athletic vital signs.  So stick with me and you’ll soon find out what your athletic vital signs are, how you can improve them, and the results you can expect.

Your Athletic Vital Signs

As I mentioned, you’ve got four athletic vital signs.  They are…

  • Speed
  • Explosive Power
  • Flexibility
  • Short Burst Endurance

The above four vitals are common traits found in most athletes.  Training to increase all four of these characteristics is vital to becoming more athletic, and turning your body into a lean, mean, fat burning machine.  Again, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, or how fit you currently are; anyone can train to increase their athletic vital signs, as you’re about to find out.


Speed is a vital component to nearly all athletes.  Being “fast” is a result of having a higher number of fast-twitch muscle fibers in your lower body, all firing at peak potential.  The side effect of having a high number of fast-twitch muscle fibers means a great metabolism, which is going to lead to overall decreases in body fat accumulation.  Speed training is the result of strengthening your current fast-twitch muscle fibers AND gradually turning the slow-twitch fibers into fast-twitch.  Granted, you can only work within the framework you’ve been given, you can still make significant strides and increase your speed, and overall leanness.

Exercises to increase speed: Dumbbell squat jumps, speed squats, barbell squats, long jumps, weighted speed skaters, lateral bench hops.

Explosive Power

Being able to generate a lot of power, in a short period of time, is a hallmark of great athletes.  Whether we’re talking upper or lower body power, being explosive is important.  Training to increase your explosiveness is going to help you pack on lean muscle, and develop a shapely, toned physique.  Remember, increasing muscle and lowering body fat should be the goal – NOT strict weight loss.  By increasing your explosive power, you’re going to do just add – continue to add muscle while stripping away stubborn body fat.

Exercises to increase explosive power: Deadlift/Box Jump supersets, drop and catch bench presses, kettlebell swings, clean and press, barbell Russian lunges, plyo push ups, med ball slams.


Typically the most overlooked of the four athletic vital signs, flexibility may very well be the most important. Maintaining a limber an flexible body isn’t only going to help protect your from injury, it’s actually going to help you improve your appearance.  How’s that you wonder?  Well, when you engage in flexibility training, you’re actually stretching your myofascial sheaths – the covering that holds your muscle.  When you stretch this muscle covering, you’re actually giving the muscle more room to grow.  You want lean, long, and shapely muscles?  Then get started on loosing up your myofascia.

Exercises in increase explosive power: Yoga, foam rolling, yoga, static stretching, oh, and more yoga.

Short Burst Endurance

Short burst endurance is your ability to perform near 100% intensity for short time intervals  Now, how “short” is short?  Well that depends on your short burst endurance.  Training to increase short burst endurance is important for a couple of reasons.  First, it allows you to perform faster and stronger for greater periods of time, thereby allowing you to do more work and make more progress.  Secondly, short burst endurance training burns a ton of calories and WILL lean you out quickly.  The key to improving this vital sign is 100% max intensity – if you’re going at 50% you’re not doing anything for your short burst endurance.  Remember, we’re going for intensity over length of workout here.  If you’re performing a max intensity exercise or drill for 2-3 minutes, then you’re not training at 100% max intensity.

Exercises to increase short burst endurance: HIIT sprints, 10 yard sprints, metabolic conditioning routines.

To Recap

To bring it all together, it doesn’t matter who you are; training to increase your athletic vital signs should be a key component to what you’re doing.  When I train my clients, regardless of their goals, I always have a secondary goal of making them more athletic.  Some of them may put up a fight initially, but over time, the benefits are too obvious to ignore.  Becoming more athletic is the sure-fire way to achieving a better body and health.

I want you to examine your current training regimen, analyze the exercises you’re doing, think about how you train, and see if there’s any way to start including some of the exercises and techniques I discussed in today’s article.  If you’re like most people, there’s almost always a way to start exercising in a better, smarter way, that increases your athleticism AND delivers the body of your dreams.  Once you figure out what that way is, the sky becomes your only limit.

Have any questions or need specific workout advice?  Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you in no time.

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