How to Train Like a Pan Am Athlete

Workout buddies

Working out with a friend can help motivate you to stay active.

Do you dream of becoming just as fit and active as the Pan Am athletes you’ve been watching this summer? YMCA fitness expert Sherry Perez tells us how to change up our gym routines to train like our favourite athletes:


These sports really target your whole body. You’ll need core strength for balance and stability, so doing exercises like planks, side planks, and oblique twists with a medicine ball can build that strength. You’ll also need upper body strength to maintain grip of the rope and fight the resistance of the water, so try chin ups, tricep dips and cable pull downs for shoulder stabilizers. Lastly, you’ll need lower body strength for endurance, start squatting and lunging with your back leg elevated on a stability ball.


For this sport interval based training is key, as it helps increase both stamina and agility. Incorporate burpees, mountain climbers and jumping jacks into your workout.  Perform each exercise for 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, then run for three minutes and rest for one minute. Repeat this three times. To help with flexibility also add a regular yoga practice to your training.


Practice yoga after using a trampoline to help stretch and lengthen back muscles. Your lower body is key for maximum power and height in your jumps, so try squats with heavy weights, lunges, or deadlifts. It also wouldn’t hurt to increase your core strength, so opt for planks and oblique twists.


Upper body strength is important with both canoeing and kayaking; to help gain that strength you can try chest presses with dumbbells. You will also need shoulder mobility and strength which is gained by arm raises with hand weights. Lastly you need core strength for stability and control which you can increase by standing side bends with a kettlebell.


Try out High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which incorporates agility, flexibility and cardio. Skipping, running up stairs and hill sprints are all great HIIT exercises. You will also need strength in your hands and wrists to help you take down your opponents, which you can achieve by adding a farmer’s walk to your workout by grabbing the heaviest hand weights that you can manage and walking around either for as long as you can, or as fast as you can in 60 seconds.