Wait, I haven’t started yet!? I start with this so you are mindful of how important this is. Take the right amount of time off and let your body “absorb” the training. Even a 3 day weekend can do you good. There’s nothing heroic about working out every day.
For the young athlete, the summer is especially a good growing season, so sleep becomes a great training aid. I’m talking about 8-9 hours on a regular routine.
Physical rest needs to have mental rest as well to avoid burn out. Take a break, do something different and interesting once and while. A distraction from training such as looking into a nonathletic hobby can refresh you, become your inner rock star and play an instrument.
It is not always available, but cryotherapy is phenomenal. That’s a long word for an ice bath. Wear a sock on your feet and hop in. It is as about as refreshing as you can get.
Recovery can take on many forms. If you add up all these suggestions here you will see that it can be very difficult to do all of them each week. That is ok, what you want to do is plan a massage, a 3 day weekend, the chiropractic visit and so on. It is a good idea to spread them out and more cost-effective.
That 3 day weekend is like this; if you work out Friday afternoon and not again until Monday afternoon, that is 3 days. Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon is 24 hours, Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon is 24 hours and Sunday afternoon to Monday afternoon is 24 hours. Three days and that is good for you.
Mental recovery means to look outside yourself from training, for example, read a superstar from your sport, their biography and see what it took for them to rise to the top.
Nutrition, next to sleep is huge in the recovery area. Not just eating, but good nutrition. Some people call it nutrient timing as far as when you eat before a workout and how soon after training. The main thing is both are important.
Recovery can be helped by understanding how much is enough. Working out is good, but more may not be better. If you are done and get asked to go an extra whatever no is an answer too.
Correct supplementation can assist in recovery. Know the limits between use wastes. The company’s goal is to sell, but you take it slow. Know what, when and how to take anything. Many supplements can be scaled back especially based on body size.
A thing called active recovery is valuable, such as riding a stationary bike one day rather than a hard run. Internal heat and blood flow do a body good.
If you have the resources have a regularly scheduled appointment with a chiropractor. That can make your next workout remarkable. It is good maintenance, like an oil change for your car.
It’s not indulging, but an occasional massage is very therapeutic, physically and mentally. A good therapist can find hot spots you were not aware of and give so much needed relief. You’ll be glad you did.
Recovery keeps the athletes only physical asset, their body, functioning at a high level. Know the signs of potentially overtraining; a high resting heart rate, lethargic, uninterested in training or even a negative attitude.
The importance of nutrition can be summed up with this question, “am I feeding my face or fueling my body.” That is an easy distinction. Help yourself out by learning to understand food labels and make better choices.
Learn the difference between macronutrients and micronutrients and how much you really need each day and what too much or a lack can do to you.
How much is enough? Guys can easily go overboard and girls can be too restrictive. Be realistic about your body image and don’t let it mislead you. Eat for performance. It takes 15-20 minutes for all the body signals to get in sync and tell you that you have had enough. Eat slowly.
We are and always will be surrounded by fads, the latest diet or supplement that will (allegedly) send your performance over the top. Most of them are the same nutrients in different packages from different manufacturers. Don’t be a pushover.
The more money you spend on supplements the more likely you are wasting both. Learn how to set your budget and establish a routine so that you can take what you need and even cycle various intakes throughout a training year.
There really are no magic potions. There are a few things that you need to be aware of when supplementing. First, if you are deficient in something and the supplement corrects it, yes you will feel good. Sometimes the placebo effect (when you believe that the supplement is working) you train harder giving you the desired physical improvement, which is a good thing.
It is a good idea to save and occasionally hire a personal coach to give you a “check up” on the things you and the way you train.
Use a coach with years of experience and proven record in the area you are training and working. There are good and bad of everything. Coaches differ from personal trainers. It is ok to “interview a prospective coach/trainer before you spend your money on a session.
There is no answer for speed, except for more speed. No matter if you want to get bigger, stronger, more flexible, in better shape, you will never be too fast.
As you speed train, learn every little detail so well that you could teach it. Become a technical expert when it comes to sprinting.
There are actually many athletes very skilled with their sport’s skill set, but when they tryout or workout was over, they couldn’t keep up, speed separates levels.
The use of a high-speed training method is superior to using varying percentages of effort. Think 95%.
No matter what sport or position, everyone should learn to be and train as a sprinter. This allows you to train at a high speed so when you get to your sport, your sports posture will take over and you will be faster on your field/court of play.
Speed simply puts you in a position to make more plays. If you are behind the action you cannot be part of the action. Game speed takes on a new meaning when you are fast.
Speed not only separates levels, but it also separates good from great at any level. If your opponent is always playing catch up, they can’t win.
There is nothing like watching an elite athlete with speed performing at their best. Get fast, get attention, especially from scouts and recruiters and most importantly, your opponent.
Becoming a technician is one aspect, the other is understanding the reach of speed training. Speed training begins on the first step of the warm-up, hand, feet, hands, head all of it are to be in proper position regardless of the drill. You warm up with speed technique in mind.
There has been more than one athlete in various sports that were dead set on being in better shape than anyone else. That is a noble pursuit, but it can go too far and compromise the ability to gain speed. If it is a matter of picking fit or fast; be fast, the fitness will come.
This simplest way to know if you have put your foot on the gas when you are sprinting is to make sure you drive your elbow back and bring your knee up.
When sprinting if you unnecessarily tight up to one body part that will travel to the next closest moving part. If you make a tight fist with your hands, that will, in turn, tighten the elbow and move into a tight shoulder. The answer is with the hands, carry the egg but don’t break it. Keep the wrist fixed and the fingers lose.
When a jet accelerates its engine to take off, the turbine inside the housing turns faster, it doesn’t get bigger. Therefore, as you become more in tune to sprinting and the mechanics, think to turn over, how fast can I get to the next stride and catch that jet.
When sprinting there are two triangles formed, one by the arms and one by the legs. If the arms and legs bend to the proper angles you get triangles formed by lines that would connect the hand to the elbow to the shoulder and back to the hand from the shoulder. Likewise, lines are drawn from the ankle to the knee to the hip and back to the foot create a triangle. Both are essential for speed development.
It may sound ridiculous, but as you train to get faster, you may have to slow down to speed up. The way that works is run at a speed that you can consciously think about the various techniques, then speed up as you master different mechanics.
The faster you try to run, the more likely you are to have a technical breakdown. The faster you try to run there should be no significant changes in mechanics, the parts just move faster. Always stay relaxed.
As a sprinter or someone training to run faster always remember low is slow. Any part of your body not in the optimum position is holding you back. In sprinting that can be the hands swinging below your belt, the foot cycling below the opposite knee, the shoulders or head hanging too low are examples. The rule is run tall, spine straight and landing on the ball of your foot.
When sprinting and your foot touches the ground, think how you light a match. A match strikes a surface to create friction and sparks and fire. You don’t poke a match into anything to light it. When you are about to contact the ground, your foot should prepare to strike the ground so it can fly away and repeat. Don’t pound the ground, light a match.
I have a saying (speak slowly), “if steps 1 and 2 are good, then steps (speak fast) 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9… will be fine. The importance of those can never be understated. If your first step is fast and explosive, then the nature of an entire play changes.
Law of the jungle, as well as, the sports world. The ability to dominate an opponent begins with a superior base of strength. Proper strength training does not take away from your sports skill.
The most important part of strength is the role strength plays in speed development. The stronger lower body produces more force and generates more speed.
There is nothing like the confidence and enthusiasm being strong can create.
It doesn’t make you bulletproof, it means that mentally you know that going into every contest you have a legitimate chance.
Injuries of any kind are an athlete’s worst nightmare. There is no such thing as injury prevention, but with a stronger body you may be able to limit the number of them, the severity and speed up the time to get back into the game.
Even today there are many myths that surround weight lifting and athletes.
Done properly and programmed well, weight training should be to enhance performance, not hinder it. The myths of making you too tight or muscle-bound or prone to injury all go away with proper program design.
That question goes with everything. Any program is better than no program, but more is not better. Depending on your sport, you may lift 2, 3 or 4 days a week. Know what you need and stick with it.
You may not know what your opponent in some other part of the world or country is doing while you are sleeping, so while you’re awake, you better be in the weight room at some point when you two meet, it will be the immovable object against the irresistible force.
You have to be in shape when you get tired, ALL other physical abilities rapidly declines.
If your sport has a break between periods or halftime, that is for strategic adjustments and alignments and so forth. If you go to halftime tired, don’t bet on a second wind to save you in the 4th quarter.
If you are in a knockdown, drag-out battle and you see your opponent getting tired and they see that you are not, that gives you a huge psychological edge. What more can they do if you just keep coming at them?
Like strength, knowing that you are cardiovascular fit tells you that you have the heart of a champion. There are athlete’s who fear aerobic conditioning because they think it is too hard. Losing is what is too hard.
With the concept of high-speed training, inherent conditioning is built in because that ramps the heart rate up to competition intensity, thoroughly preparing you for the task at hand. High-speed workouts will change your game.
If you have a preseason conditioning test or a set day of important competition, arrange your conditioning schedule to do the hardest day on that same day of the week. That gives your body a weekly rhythm of preparation and execution.
Don’t be afraid to train yourself to be able to do 30 minutes of stationary aerobic work. Some athletes are worried about the loss of muscle mass or strength or speed, all of which is false. By doing a stationary piece of equipment, you save the pounding on the legs and almost exclusively gain aerobic benefit.
Better flexibility increases the range of motion of the joints and muscles allowing them to withstand some of the forces and extreme stretch they go through.
Every athlete at every level wants to have a long and productive career. Good flexibility is a key component to maintaining a functional and productive body.
As with everything, there are limits. More is not always better. Know your body’s limits. As you get into a stretching routine, over a period of time you may improve your range of motion and then at some point that is set. Once you know your limits, work to maintain that and not regress.
Build a menu of stretching positions to be able to stretch the same muscle a different way, providing it with a different stimulus. That keeps you and your muscles busy.
Learn the differences and benefits of both static and dynamic stretching. Use dynamic stretches before workouts and static stretching at the end and on off days.
Become disciplined personally to create a training routine of time, day, place and most importantly, stick to it.
If your schedule requires you to be working out at different times on certain days, that’s fine. Not being on the field or in the weight room at the same time every day does not compromise progress so if necessary, make that your routine.
A cousin of irregularity regularity is the principle of accumulation. That means that no matter what your schedule dictates, at the end of a month you may have accumulated 21 workouts at irregular times and that will always be bigger than zero.
Well, yes you have. Circadian rhythm is your body’s 24-hour cycle and we all have it. Your body likes rhythm and routine. Sleep is very good in the right amounts and right times. But, if you mess around with your sleep cycle, especially in the offseason, it could be rough when it has to change for the school, work or training camp.
This is a common universal theme we have. When it comes to a schedule and routine, it means that your sleep will dictate when you eat and/or workout and when you rest and recover and go to work/school and all that goes on in a day, week, month and so on. Schedules can be changed and adapted, but learn to use one.
When it comes to a training location, you need to be in a facility that lets you move smoothly through your workout and lets you do the things needed to improve. There needs to be a level of comfort and familiarity with your training site of choice.
If you are in the market for a training center or gym to join, visit it at the time of day you are most likely to work out. You can see what the traffic flow in the gym is like, the energy it has and the type of membership that workouts out at the same time you do.
Even with the need for a comfort zone, a change of scenery should not be turned down temporarily to help freshen you up or see something new and useful. Go with a friend to their facility and let yourself miss yours.
When it comes to workout equipment, some of us get really entrenched in the “gotta’s”. That is, I gotta bench with a bar, squat with a bar, power clean every day, yet those are all a big, no you don’t. Various kinds of equipment used throughout the week can help balance the body, expose weaknesses to improve upon and other good things. Therefore, dumbbell bench or incline weekly or machine single leg press frequently and feel the difference.
Find ways to improve your weaknesses or prevent them from occurring. This biggest example is all the pushing to the front causing an inward rounding of the shoulders or even backside pains. Be sure your training, especially in the weight room, is equal with push and pull or front versus back.
Not the most technical, scientific phrase ever uttered, but there are so many things people latch on to that are important and need to be put in perspective. Cuff and stuff refer to everything you need to do to complete your workout. That is stuff like your rotator cuff, core, trunk, spine, stabilizers galore, wrist and forearm and more. Those can be cycled through your training week so as not to unnecessarily consume too much time.
Explosive training, plyometrics or whatever you want to call it is designed to merge strength with speed to create power. Explosive training basically reminds the body and muscles how to go fast, especially after the relatively slow movements of a weight workout.
We saw that in the stretching section and is so true with weight lifting. The reason that is so important is that it can become a way of resting one area of the body without letting up. A great example is in a group of the press such as the bench, incline and shoulder presses. Don’t do all three in one workout, rotate through your week or even give one of them two weeks off. You will be surprised at the positive benefits.
A serious athlete should never go into the weight room without knowing how that workout is going to help. Even the simplest answer is a good way to start, but don’t go into the weight to lift weights, go in to improve some physical, athletic function.
A good rule to follow when creating your program or even following an existing one, is where do you want to be at the end of the programming and how much time do you have (in terms of weeks)? Count back so you don’t run out of time and didn’t get into the real meat of the workouts. If there are time constraints, you may have to shorten certain parts of a cycle.
That’s an oldie goldie, but very true. Well designed programs not only tell you what to do that day, but they can also often accurately tell you where you will be in a week or a month. Each workout is connected to the previous and the next and a well-designed program will ensure consistent progress. That includes downtime and active recovery workouts.
Cycling is a training term that means changing the sets and reps of your workouts to keep from plateauing. Taking out some element or making some other adjustment. It is very helpful in saving you from hitting a wall especially if you have a lengthy training period.
You can benefit greatly by thinking in terms of themes. Strength training already has that in many forms such as an upper-lower split featuring “back and bi’s” or shoulders and arms. Likewise, in speed training, we have themes such as 0-10, change of direction, 0-30 and so on. It goes into good program design for the long haul.
As far as program design goes, limit the number of exercises that you use for a body part to prevent overtraining and staleness. This can be seen during an Olympic style weight lifting cycle when power cleans and hang cleans are going hard and you are tempted to add upright rows or shoulder press and the like. Don’t overlap and limit the auxiliaries. Use those exercises for active recovery weeks.
The body is a 24 hour, non-stop chemical processing, repair shop, software running and more, machine. Because of that, if there is a glitch in the program design, there should be the flexibility to make changes literally overnight so the machine doesn’t hit a speed bump.
Probably the trickiest trap door to avoid is the one where no matter how good the program design is, there can be an over exuberance to do extra to improve a real or perceived weakness. That is a noble pursuit but that can result in overtraining or creating a new weakness.
Working out can be viewed as specific or general. If I go to the weight room and as a football player did a 10 exercise, 3 sets of 10 reps big circuit, then that would be a very general workout. On the other hand, as a swimmer, that same workout could be viewed as specific for their aquatic training needs. What are the demands of your sport? Train to meet those demands.
A very general workout can be used as an active recovery workout during a grinding training cycle. At the same time, a grinding workout can be used once a week to spice things up during long methodical training cycle.
Depending on what time of year it is in your training cycle, that will determine whether you use a general or specific workout. As an example, four weeks into a cycle you may be going hard and fast with bench, squats, and plyometrics, so it would be a good idea to stay on a very sport specific training course.
Training gear is so important. It is a matter of workout function, not style. Yes, you want to look the part. One example, if you are doing big squats and cleans, a cool looking, a cushy running shoe isn’t a good idea. Court shoes are actually a good weight room shoe. They are sturdy and firm on the floor. Likewise, running shoes don’t make a good change of direction shoe.
Dressing any time of year has to be smart. In cold weather use layers that can come off and in heat, don’t hesitate to wear a white long sleeve in the sun. You’ll be hot no matter what, but you won’t be sunburned later. Speed training needs snug fitting clothes.
A subtle tip is, don’t let the music you listen to distract you. Too many people lose focus or momentum trying to find the right song in the middle of training and get off course. You came to work out not to attend a concert. Music can work for or against you.
The summary to music, clothes, shoes and other accessories is you may look and sound the part, but in the world of sports, talent wins. Train to get better, all show and no go is a waste, good beats hype.
If a coach or someone you know ever says, “Its time to get back to basics”, then they all are fired. Getting back to basics may be the worst thing anyone can say because they were wrong when they left the basics in the first place. Basics (fundamentals) are daily reviewable, practices. Never leave the basics.
Get a training partner or two. It is not just about accountability which is often used as the reason for one. That doesn’t always work because one of you can always back out while the other still get their session done. It should be for a push during the workout, feedback, motivation and such during the workout.
A training partner helps both or all of you reach for high standards. Everybody is not at the same emotional level all the time, so there is someone to pick up the slack, someone to not let you cut corners.
When you train with someone else there is a person who can physically understand what you see, think, feel and can understand your language long after the work out is over. There needs to be that person you can talk training to when needed.
You want to, as much as possible, surround yourself with positive people who give off that positive energy. It is contagious. If that is not always possible, then limit the negative exposure.
If you want to be the smartest person in any room, put people in there with you who are smarter than you. Get under the influence of smart and experienced people in all areas.
I wish I had said this first, “someone who is saying it can’t be done is usually being passed up by someone doing it.” There is plenty of free advice out there, learn to filter what you can use from the chatter.
Positive people and energy are out there, go get it. Don’t wait for something or somebody to find you. It may be a place you go to, but go find it if it gives you life.
As you train and grow your workout regimen, learn all you can about the why of what you are doing. If you were to end up in a situation where it was just you to take care of yourself in the workout arena, then you could easily do that.
Train hard, but train intelligently. Nobody denies hard work is necessary for success. Keep this in mind, hard work doesn’t guarantee success but gives you the opportunity to be successful. Be smarter than the next guy.
Ads for programs or products have often claimed that you can train like the pros. What does that mean? Have you ever been on the same field or court or whatever when a pro trains? That’s why they are pro, they are unbelievable in their ability. Just train hard and do your best.
Coaches are especially guilty of taking the recent collegiate national champions strength and conditioning program and trying to implement it. There are several problems with that, those players do not come with the program, that coaching staff doesn’t come with it and it just might not be the best workout for you. Choose wisely.
There is a legitimate need for learning and understanding sports psychology. Sports is pretty much the sum total of all human emotion is one competition. There are highs and lows and disappointments and mountain top feelings and more. How to deal with those feelings and emotions and where they fit in the scheme of things is crucial. Don’t be afraid to seek out guidance.