Five more aspects of training that no athlete should ever ignore.
In part 1 of this series, we discussed the five basic things athletes should be doing to ensure their training program delivers maximum results. In part 2 we’ll touch on five additional rules you should adhere to if you’re looking to perform your best day in and day out.
1. Warm-Up Correctly
The rules for warm-ups seem to change over time, and coaches go back and forth on what they think a proper warm-up should look like, but I’ve used the following template for warming up for years now, and feel like it covers the necessities. It usually takes 15-20 minutes, which may seem like a long time, but it’s a wise investment from an injury prevention, and performance enhancement, standpoint.
It probably makes sense to mention that some coaches, myself included, believe static stretching doesn’t do much for long-term flexibility when performed after having already warmed up. But, while the majority of your static stretching should be done several hours after the workout, some areas (like your hip flexors) should be addressed beforehand.
2. Do Conditioning That’s Specific to Your Sport
I try to get a feel for the type of training every recruit I meet with is currently doing,and it amazes me how often their strength and conditioning approach is counter-productive to their goals. If your sport requires short bursts of running with starting and stopping, then you shouldn’t be running long distances. In other words, use the length of each work bout in your sport, the amount of rest between each set, and the total number of work intervals, to determine the volume, work-to-rest ratios, and distances in your conditioning workouts. I’m not saying that a basketball player should never train using distances longer than the length of the court, but I personally don’t have them run any distance longer than 300 yards in one work interval.
3. Incorporate Corrective Exercises into Your Program
Corrective exercise refers to exercises, or stretches, designed to target a defect in a movement pattern. The sitting we do at the computer, on the couch, and in the car, is hard on the body. So much sitting leads to shortened hamstrings and hip flexors, a forward head posture, and internally rotated shoulders.
Poorly designed training programs and repetitive sport actions such as throwing, swinging a racquet or club, and even running, also create muscle imbalances and asymmetries as well as faulty movement patterns, pain, and stunted progress.
To combat these effects, include corrective exercises specific to your needs during your warm-up, or at some point in your workout. Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson have written a great four part series on assessing and correcting posture defects called “Neanderthal No More.” Also, Gray Cook also has developed the Functional Movement Screen (www.functionalmovement.com), a seven point assessment designed to identify a person’s faulty movement patterns.
4. Eat Real Food Most of the Time
There’s really nothing good to say about processed foods, except that they’re convenient. We know they’re bad, and that eating them regularly is a recipe for disaster. If you rely on the convenience of fast food and processed foods you can forget about that six pack. Why? Because these foods spike your insulin, which negatively impacts your body composition, and deprive your body of the proper nutrition needed to recover from workouts. Oh and forget about those strength gains too.
Knowing that, try to make at least 80% of your foods natural foods, and limit processed foods to 20% or less. Natural foods are foods you can picture grazing in a field or growing in the ground, on a plant, or from tree. Try not to eat foods that have a shelf life of longer than two weeks. And lastly, when eating foods from a package, absolutely avoid trans-fats, refined grains, high fructose corn syrup, and sodium.
Sleep is such a critical component in achieving your training goals because a lack of it negatively impacts your performance, strength gains, and body composition. It’s during deep sleep that a cascade of hormones (like testosterone and HGH) required for recovery is released. Thus, all athletes should strive for 8 to 9 ½ hours each night. Going to bed at the same time each night, waking up at the same time every day, and keeping your room completely dark are all paths to a deeper, more restful sleep.
And there you have it. Five more rules to help you train harder, and become a better athlete. Maximizing your potential requires a huge commitment of time, energy and discipline, but if you want to take your game to the next level, don’t overlook the basic components outlined above.
To maximize your athletic performance, 1R would recommend the following supplements: