Professional athletes have trainers, nutritionists, and specialists to help them reach the level required to excel in their selective fields. We may not have personal trainers, but we can all train ourselves to be more like a pro athlete with a little work and helpful knowledge. We have outlined a few tips and techniques to get you started on your journey, coupled with some advice on eating habits. If you haven’t exercised for a while, start slowly and build up to the more strenuous exercises. Always warm-up and warm down before and after exertion to minimize the risk of injury or fatigue. Should you have any physical ailments speak with your doctor before starting a fitness regime to make sure you won’t aggravate any existing problems which may keep you on the side-lines.
Hydration is Paramount
Regardless of what sport you want to be the best in, every athlete needs to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is often seen on TV at major sports events, but it is also something that an athlete will do in their downtime. Sometimes you may feel that you are not thirsty, but you should always be drinking water to keep your body hydrated. Skipping drinking can lead to tiredness during games or exercise and will lessen your alertness and cognitive abilities. An average human should be drinking half a gallon of water per day, whereas in times of exertion this could be double or more. Water loss is primarily attributed to three main factors: temperature, altitude, and exercise. Drink throughout the day and try to keep the amount consistent to let your kidneys have time to do their job with the fluids you consume.
Mental Exercises to Stay Sharp
As we all know, athletes are in peak physical form when competing at the highest levels. Another sometimes overlooked aspect is the mental side of sports. We can draw some comparisons between the NFL and NBA as sports with regards to remuneration, but athletes need very different physical attributes to be great at the sport they play. The mental aspect for any sportsperson is the same, and athletes do exercises to make sure they are in top shape. Using technology such as NeuroTracker can help improve cognitive abilities, decision-making, processing speed, and memory. Treat your mind as well as your body to ensure you are staying up to date with the latest techniques that modern-day athletes use to gain an edge on their opponents.
Diet to Maximise Performance
Now that you are hydrated, and your mind in good shape, it is time to look at what you need to fuel your body with. Defensive linemen need a very different diet than a basketball player, so you need to tailor your diet to be the best at the sport you play. To build muscle mass, you should be eating a high protein diet of foods such as chicken breast, all kinds of fish, nuts, and oats. Eating small portions regularly will help your body to absorb the goodness and keep you active throughout the day.
If partaking in sports that require more stamina, you should look at eating a high carbohydrate diet that will give you more energy for a more extended period. For a healthy high-carb diet, stay away from white bread, white pasta, and potato chips. Eat from a healthier range such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, bananas, and lentils.
Planning Your Diet
National Football and Basketball Teams will have diets prepared explicitly for them, and you should do the same. There are many diet planners available online where you can decide what your goals are, and they will help you to put a plan together to achieve them. Always allow small treats, so you don’t get bored or unsatisfied with what you eat but stick to your plan to get the best results.
As mentioned before, you should be eating smaller portions regularly, however, this can become frustrating for some. Professional bodybuilders often find the worst part of their day is eating even when they are not particularly hungry. A top athlete always wants their body to be fuelled up for daily exercises and game days. Eating after a workout is crucial to aid muscle recovery, which will also help to prevent injuries the next time you train.
Strength Training Techniques
Increasing strength and muscle mass takes time and dedication. The most important rule is to ensure you keep the correct form when lifting weights, even when lifting weights on and off the barbells. If your form is shaky, you should reduce the weights until it is perfect and start from there. The weight you should be lifting should be enough to fatigue the muscles but not so much that you can’t do twelve repetitions of the exercise. When lifting weights, you should remember to breathe, as many hold their breath during the lift. Breathe out when lifting and breathe in when lowering your weights. Always be balanced throughout your exercises; keeping balanced will help with muscle growth. Never overwork your muscles, always rest in between sets and try not to do the same exercises two days in a row. You want balanced muscle growth, so change your routine around each day to maximize the results.
Almost every sport requires you to be agile and able to move or change position quickly. A few excellent pieces of an agility training kit are the ladder and cones. Lay your ladder flat on the ground and start by hopping across it, lengthways. You should be aiming to make clear steps in between the ladder rungs and lift your legs high to make the movement crisp.
Your agility ladder will allow you to do many exercises that help different muscles and will train your brain to be alert when needed. With your cones, you should place them in a row reasonably close together and start by sprinting around them, darting in and out of the gaps. The exercises we mention will help improve fast-twitch muscles, which are great for changing direction rapidly and for reacting when you need to adjust your footing or balance. There are many easy agility exercises you can do with only these two low-priced pieces of equipment.
One of the hardest parts of any professional sport is getting your endurance to the highest level. You should be able to finish a game at the same speed you started. The obvious exercises are running long distances, swimming, and cycling. Although these are great for professional athletes, if you have a day job, committing to these may not be possible. For this reason, we have noted a few other exercises with which you can try to improve your endurance. The most straightforward exercise is planking, where you put your body in the plank position and hold it for as long as you can. Planking will improve muscle endurance and balance.
Another good muscle endurance exercise is good old-fashioned squats – keeping in mind that you need to keep proper form when doing these. If you have the time, you should integrate long runs or cycling into your routine to get your lungs working at maximum capacity. Many Olympic athletes train until they vomit to push themselves to the limit and to let them know where their maximum level is. Any sustained exercise that makes you breathless will improve your lung capacity. Try to push yourself as far as you can and try to beat that record next time round to keep the improvement curve rising.
Start Your Routine
The critical attributes for any top-level athlete are strength, agility, and endurance. Start a training routine that maximizes those elements and follow our advice on hydration, nutrition, and mental toughness to become as good as your favorite sports star.