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Get serious about your physical fitness training, find your inner athlete and start training like a sport’s pro. Today I’m going to share with you how athletes train their body in order optimize their physical performance and stay healthy.
It’s always the perfect time of year to look into the sports world for some fitness inspiration, because the sports seasons are constantly changing. Athletes across all sports are embracing pre-season tune-ups, mid-season madness or post-season muscle building and relaxing. We can all learn a lot from the way they take care of their most precious asset: their body.
When football season ends, players start to prepare their body for pre-season training. When baseball spring training comes to a close, the players are in full competitive training mode. Basketball teams rejuvenate, rebuild and rest during the summer. And, of course, I can’t forget about the year-round athletes who are always planning their training around the next big event.
There’s one thing that all athletes, regardless of their sport, seem to have in common, and that’s planning combined with training in cycles. A cycle tends to involve preparation (pre-season), hard work and maintenance (in season) and rest plus rebuilding (post-season).
If you have an active lifestyle like me, you’ll know all too well that “training for your health athletes” don’t have a distinct season. In fact, the new era of intense style fitness training doesn’t really plan for anything other than constant hard work.
I’m pretty sure that many of you often find yourself wondering, ‘Am I supposed to just keep going hard all year long?’ One woman who was doing a training program expressed a common concern, “I just can’t imagine training like this for so long, it’s miserable to me and my body aches all over.”
It reinforced one of my truisms, “People believe that they constantly have to be maxed out with the intensity of their training to get good results.” This is just not true, and I think it’s the primary reason why a lot of people are scared of training and exercise in general.
Doing some high-intensity workouts is necessary if you wish to push your body to new heights of fitness. But this hard intensity must be combined with a little TLC. My mission in life is to help people fall in love with exercise, while taking care of their body for the long haul. I’d rather have someone enthusiastic and excited for the next training session than dread the thought of the pain to come. If you master the balance of hard work with taking it easy and resting, you can push your body to perform at an optimal level.
Many of us need a little reminder every now and then to reevaluate our fitness, and to consider the long- term health and preservation of our precious joints and muscles. Overdoing it is almost just as bad as not doing it at all, so let’s find some balance.
Here are some important factors you can consider implementing into your current workout routine to get the best out of your body. If you’re a ‘training for your health athlete,’ there’s no rush and it’s not a race, so relax and enjoy the process of transforming your body.
Stretching helps you maximize your body’s ability to move freely. It helps you get out of your own way internally so your body can perform at its best. Stretching before and after your workout is essential for helping with injury prevention, as tight soft tissue can restrict joint movements and hinder important tendons from effectively doing their job. Don’t rule out stretching as an actual workout. Yoga and structured workout programs stretch and strengthen your muscles. They are impact-free forms of exercise and are a great addition to your workout week. I personally know several pro football players who love these lower impact workouts.
Mix up your mode: Athletes must do training specific workout plans in order to execute a specific task. As a ‘for your health athlete,’ you can enjoy mixing up the mode of training and avoid overuse injuries and imbalances. There are so many ways you can exercise, so don’t limit yourself to one style—run, bike, swim, dance, jump, box, lift weights. Keep your body guessing at the same time as avoiding boredom by adjusting your training mode every few weeks.
Limit high impact days in a week: High impact training, such as plyometrics, is great for building strength and power and it’s a lot of fun. But doing it too often can damage your precious joints. Avoid doing it on back-to-back days, and only do it if your body is ready for such dynamic movements. I believe that 1-2 days a week of movements that involve jumping/impact is more than enough.
Rest days: Schedule a rest at least 1-2 days a week to give your body a chance to adapt to your training and repair itself. If your activity level is light, you don’t need to worry about complete off days. But if you are a fitness addict training on four or more days of the week, in my opinion this is essential.
Appreciate the power of repetition, progression and consistency: Our body responds well to these three important training factors. You must have some form of repetition if you wish to master or improve at a style of training. As it becomes easy, you must challenge yourself to progress. Being consistent and setting a routine will help you to stay accountable. It’s easy to skip a rest day or forget that you did high impact a few too many days in a row, but if you write it down and aim to be consistent, it’s easier to stick with.
And have fun!
Finally have fun with it all. Make your exercise routine more than just an exercise routine, make it social. Let community participation and taking care of your body be priorities as you attempt to get the best out of it.
Think about training in cycles for the best results, even if it is just your own one-week cycles. A good cycle will include some preparation stabilization exercises, some moderate intensity low impact work, some high intensity workouts, then rest and repeat. Every 6-8 weeks mixing up your plan is a great idea and will keep it feeling fresh and exciting.
And, of course, don’t forget to fuel your body like an athlete for best results!
Samantha Clayton is responsible for all activities relating to exercise and fitness education for Independent Herbalife Members and employees. Through in-person training sessions, educational tools and materials, and her blog (www.discovergoodfitness.com), she ensures that the important role of exercise as part of a healthy, active life is understood by all. She also helps create, organize and promote employee fitness programs and activities as an integral part of the company’s corporate wellness program.
A native of Liverpool, England, Samantha initially worked as a consultant for Herbalife for two years and led the Herbalife24-Fit program, the company’s first comprehensive fitness training program and DVD series.
Before joining the corporate ranks, Samantha was a professional athlete. She represented Great Britain in the 2000 Sydney Olympics in both the 200m and the 4x100m relay events. Prior to the Olympics, she won two medals in the Olympic AAA trials – a silver medal for the 200m and a bronze for the 100m – as well as a silver medal in the 4x100m relay during the European Junior Championships in 1997. Her personal records include 11.40 seconds in the 100m and 23.02 seconds in the 200m.
Samantha is a personal trainer and group exercise coach through the American Fitness and Aerobics Association (AFAA) and International Sport Science Association (ISSA).