With new fitness trends launching every day, it's easy to get confused between different theories and drawn into a regime focusing on aesthetics. Training should focus on performance outcomes alongside a healthy eating plan. If you are running further, cycling faster and lifting heavier then aesthetics automatically improve. Remember, no matter what anybody says, there are no shortcuts.
Showing up is imperative, whether you have a training plan or not here are 7 tips to guide you towards becoming a better athlete.
1. Compound warm up - A warm up prepares your muscles for what they are about to experience. You should be sweating slightly before you start your first movement. Focus your warm up on the muscle group you intend to work with. Keep your stretches dynamic, and avoid static stretching (stretch to a point that challenges, and hold) before a workout.
2. Complementary movements - A growing functional fitness trend is replacing 'old school' isolated lifts like bicep curls and shoulder presses with activities like Olympic lifting, rowing ergometer performance and kettle-bell swings. These functional movements can be vastly improved by complementing them with isolated lifts e.g rowing will of course benefit from bicep curls so don't shy away from them if you are following the trend.
3. Keep track of your workouts ' Use a pen and paper, an app or a simple excel sheet. Firstly it will help you track and improve your speed, distance and weight bearing, it will also facilitate goal setting. Secondly, it helps encourage a more balanced training schedule. We tend to neglect parts of the body, sometimes the hard parts and sometimes purely because we forget. Writing it down will remind you.
4. Consistency ' 'Make it a habit' may be a clich' but it's true and effective. Accepting the fact that eating well and keeping in shape is not a seasonal thing and is the way you will live your life from now onwards helps more than I can explain and is something you'll never regret. Goal setting, both short and long term, helps maintain consistency and gives you something to train for.
5. Performance goals - Short and long term goal setting is your personal guide to training. As your knowledge about training and about your own body expands, your goals will develop and sometimes become more diverse e.g. someone who has never run before starts losing weight, becomes more confident in the gym then sets his or her sights on their first 10km road run. In my opinion short term goals are 1-4 weeks, and long term is anything more than 6 months, have both!
6. Involve a friend - We are often told that peer pressure isn't a good thing but when it comes to encouragement that enforces consistency and sharing the burden of an early morning, it is!
7. Honesty - Most importantly, be honest to yourself. When lying in bed on a Sunday night, ask yourself if you could have done a bit more that week to improve your performance. This might be an eye opening exercise.
3 underrated movements to include in your workout:
1) Kettle-bell swings are perfect for your core and posterior chain. For Olympic lifters, they provide a great platform to reinforce an essential hip drive.
2) Weighted lunges are great for singling out your legs and will teach them to be powerful and effective independently.
3) Push ups will of course develop your triceps and chest but will also improve shoulder stability, prevent injuries and if done correctly will improve other movements like burpees.
10 minute workout
Try this workout at home. You won't need much space and it's suitable for athletes on all levels. It sounds simple but the combination of movements is designed to fatigue multiple muscle groups.
Do 5 Rounds for advanced, 4 for intermediate and 3 for beginners.
Peter Olivier is General Manager of Roark Gyms, Personal Trainer and Head coach of the Ladies. www.oliviertraining.com www.roarkgyms.com [email protected]
- 5 push ups - try and allow only your chin to touch the ground, keep your core engaged and elbows tucked into your body.
- 10 burpees - starting in a standing position, bend your legs drop down into the bottom of your push up then drive your hips upwards bringing your feet underneath you. Jump in the air and touch your hands together behind your head.
- 15 air squats - squat down to just below 90 degrees, put your hands up and in front of you (this will help keep your posture upright).