This post is sponsored by Sovereign Laboratories
Regular exercise and a well-balanced diet tend to be the backbone of health for athletes of all skill and experience levels.
However, as many of us know maintaining this consistently can be easier said than done.
Whether you are a professional athlete, Weekend Warrior or anything in between – here are some simple secrets that can improve your training and take your strength and athleticism to a whole new level. Learn more about some of the top training secrets for athletes below.
1. Know when and what to eat.
It’s common knowledge (and common sense) that a healthy, balanced diet that is free of sweets and junk foods is essential to achieving your fitness goals, but knowing when to eat is just as important.
For your pre-workout meal, focus on an easily digestible meal that offers plenty of whole-food (minimally processed) carbohydrates for fuel as well as a healthy dose of protein and sufficient water to prevent your body from breaking down your existing muscle mass.
Similarly, make sure you refuel and rehydrate (with electrolytes) immediately following a workout. Your post-workout snack or meal, with proper hydration, is a crucial first step to recovery.
Waiting too long to eat is how you end up spoiling your workout reaching for potato chips and other junk foods. Eat a protein bar or drink a protein shake instead.
An easy place to start is breakfast. Since you are burning more energy than the average person, your first meal of the day should not be in the afternoon.
Photo by Jamie Matociños from Unsplash
Eating a daily breakfast provides you and your body with fuel for the rest of the day, prevents catabolism, and may help to keep your metabolism elevated throughout the day and later that night.
If you aren’t accustomed to eating breakfast, start small with just a bowl of oatmeal and fruit before working your way up to something more substantial.
2. Always include conditioning in your workouts.
As an athlete, it’s easy to focus on one task or goal during your training routines. If you play basketball, you are probably focusing on perfecting your jumper and your handles.
If you play baseball, you are likely to work on your swings and throwing velocity. While those are all important to practice and master, you simply cannot ignore conditioning, which focuses on all parts of your body working in conjunction – and brings oxygen to your muscles to accelerate your recovery.
Think of it this way: conditioning creates a solid base for the rest of your skills and training to thrive.
The right conditioning can improve your overall ability and performance while ensuring that you have the right physical mechanics and endurance to go for longer without hurting yourself.
Always try to fold in dynamic cardio exercises along with core exercises. Your core muscles play a role in your posture and just about every movement in your body.
3. Change things up every few weeks.
It is normal for even professional athletes in their prime to hit a plateau. While you should sustain a workout and training routine that works for you, keep in mind that the body has an incredible ability to adjust to stressors.
In this case, if you are performing the same exercises every single day, your body will eventually get used to those repeated exercises, which can prevent you from achieving the results that you really need.
Photo by Meghan Holmes from Unsplash
Essentially, you want to continue confusing your muscles (in a safe and controlled way) to get the best results.
Changing up your exercises every few weeks keeps your muscles from adjusting and adapting. This can mean incorporating different workouts, increasing reps, or switching individual parts of your routine around.
4. Stretch and rest.
As you get older, your muscles and ligaments naturally lose some of their elasticity, leaving you less limber and potentially more prone to cramps and injuries.
Include a mindful stretching routine into your workouts to help maintain flexibility and support your regular muscle recovery.
In the same vein, make sure you listen to your body and take a rest when you need it.
Working out too hard and all the time will not do you any favors and may actually be dangerous. Take a rest or active recovery day to give your joints a break and let your muscle fibers heal and grow.
5. Use bovine colostrum.
Bovine colostrum is a nutrient-packed supplement that has been studied for its wide range of potential benefits, which may include supporting gut health and improving natural immunities.
These alone can improve your training, particularly in preventing a leaky gut, which otherwise allows toxins to leak out of the intestines and into the bloodstream. That can potentially contribute to an overactive immune system and gastrointestinal issues, all of which ultimately keeps you from performing at your best.
At the same time, bovine colostrum may also present direct benefits to your muscle mass, joint health, and athletic performance.
In one study, a group of 29 highly trained male cyclists completed tests measuring their ventilatory threshold and time to fatigue, along with a 40 km time trial. They were then given either a supplement containing bovine colostrum or a whey protein placebo.
They resumed normal training for five weeks before returning to the lab for performance tests and consecutive days of HIIT (high-intensity interval training). The results of the study found that the colostrum group showed significant improvements in their time trial performance and intensity.
The colostrum group also maintained their ventilatory threshold even following the consecutive days of HIIT. This suggests an increase in physical endurance.
In similar studies, trained athletes given bovine colostrum showed a greater increase in lean muscle mass without significant changes in body weight compared to those who took a whey protein supplement.
The potential effect of colostrum for athletes may come from the combination of high-quality protein, amino acids, and growth factors, including insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). , These natural components help fuel your muscles and heart through every training session and during recovery.
Colostrum is also rich in immunoglobulins, antibodies, and other immune factors, which contribute to a healthy gut and immune system.
Maintaining a balanced training routine is the key to great performance regardless of your athletic level. Do your best and stay mentally present with every workout, and you are well on your way to great fitness.
About The Author:
Alec Friedman is a Co-Founder of Dynamic Living Network LLC, a Scottsdale-based company that consults with Functional Medicine practitioners in the implementation of innovative health programs to optimize human performance. Alec’s interest and involvement in healthcare began at an early age and has remained the underlying thread of his current endeavors. Prior to co-founding DLN, Alec spent over 14 years playing high-level baseball. He is a former collegiate catcher at Orange Coast College, in Costa Mesa, California playing under coach John Altobelli, and moved on to play as a “Dirtbag” at California State University, Long Beach, his alma mater.