From long and intense workout hours to special diets, we have all heard a thing or two about the lengths that professional athletes go to stay fit. While all of the stories may seem a little above you, believe me when I say that you too can train like a professional athlete. If your current regime is not working as effectively as you want, it’s time to take your fitness to the next level with these 10 ways to dominate on the field and in the gym.
1. Relax and Release
Taking breaks between workouts is very necessary as it gives your muscles time to relax and recover. You will be doing yourself more harm than good if you overexert your muscles.
Recently, fitness experts have recommended Myofascial release as an effective way to loosen up your joints and muscles after an intensive session. Myofascial release is a form of alternative therapy that involves gentle but continuous pressure to connective tissues to release knots, tightness and pain. While there are professionals that perform Myofascial release therapy, you can do this yourself using a softball, a golf ball, a foam roller, a lacrosse ball or a massage stick.
According to Joe Kenn, the strength and conditioning coach for the NFL team, Carolina Panthers, if you feel a knot or tightness in some joints and muscle areas, simply make smooth passes and roll at that point to get it to relax. He also adds that having tight glutes will hinder your ability to squat, bend or jump. If you are unable to complete any of these movements, then you already know you are in for an unfulfilling workout session.
2. Activate Your Muscles
Using bands during your training program are a great way to activate your muscles.
When you use bands, your muscles expand and contract in reaction to the band’s resistance. Doing this repeatedly gives stability to your joints and strength to your muscles.
They are also great for stretching. In fact, using resistance bands is a great way to exert your muscles and stretch them at the same time. You can incorporate bands into your glute bridges, squats, leg or arm workout routine.
3. Turn the lights out
While intense workouts may yield better results, it is important that you never forget to sleep.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to sleeping; you have to get at least seven good hours of sleep regularly or you might burn out very quickly. When you sleep, your body is in the perfect state for muscle growth and recovery. This is exactly why you need to block your eyes and ears to anyone telling you to compromise your sleep hours.
It does not matter whether you train in the morning or at night, you need to get the right amount of sleep.
4. Focus on Compound Movements
When your routine involves more muscles, you build more muscles in less time. Compound movements such as squats, overhead presses, dead-lifts and pull-ups are a great way to work different muscle groups at once.
Kenn recommends that if you’re going to get a professional athlete’s results from compound movements, then you should pay more attention to ground-based exercises. Ground based exercises are simply exercises in which your feet are on the ground (especially in an upright position), like squats and the overhead press. Ground-based exercises not only work with your body’s weight but they also train your body to absorb and release force through the ground.
Compound movements are the perfect addition to your routine because they combine resistance training and cardio training so well. They also build inter-muscular coordination so that your different muscle groups learn to interact more efficiently to yield the results that you desire.
5. Get Jumping
Including jumps in your routine automatically switches things up. If your goal is just average Joe fitness, then you can keep your slow controlled movements. However, if you desire to look like your favourite athlete, then you need to make your routine more explosive. Jumps are the perfect way to make your routines more explosive. Also incorporating jumps into your routine will improve your overall performance in sports. Now you’re training like a professional athlete.
Perfecting your jumping and landing techniques will result in improved performance in sports like basketball, volleyball, tennis etc. You can include squat jumps, tuck jumps, box jumps and other jump routines that keep you off the ground as much as possible.
6. Buddy Up
If everything we’ve talked about so far seems like a lot of work and you’re wondering how you’ll stay committed, then you might want to consider getting a workout buddy. The right workout buddy might be the difference between poor results and excellent results. A 2019 study by Stanford University confirmed that receiving a call about how your workout is going can boost the amount of exercise that you can do by up to 78%. This proves that social support is a very important aspect of achieving your fitness goals.
In addition to making workouts more fun, having a workout buddy makes it easier to push yourself. That competitive side that everyone has will push you to want to do better especially if your buddy is someone who is ahead of you on their fitness journey.
Workout buddies are great for support, motivation and accountability. In fact, whenever you feel like you are falling behind on your routines; it may be time to call up a training buddy. You best bet for a training buddy would be either a certified personal trainer or other professional athletes. That way, they will not only teach how to perform your routines better but also provide extra safety in case anything goes wrong during a session. Another step to train like a professional athlete.
7. Drink More Water
Drinking enough water helps your muscles to function optimally during workout sessions. Your fascia, which are the sheets of connective tissues that hold your muscles are largely made of water. Insufficient water supply to the fascia will cause these tissues to become glued down and this will result in cramping. This means that your water levels have to be right at all times. If you default on consuming water and you get dehydrated, it will negatively affect your ability to complete your routine.
Without enough water in your system, your blood thickness is increased. The thicker your blood is, the harder and the longer time it takes your heart to pump blood. Your blood pressure falls and it becomes harder for fat to get to your muscles. Now you do not even have enough energy to complete your routine because your body is not producing enough fuel. All because you did not drink enough water.
Other essential pre-workout foods can also help to keep you fired up. When training at the level as a professional athlete, C.P.P.S certified trainer Joe Franco recommends that you drink about 60% of your body weight in water daily.
8. Time your Rest
Your body loves routines. The rest interval between routines is one of the most important yet least considered variables for optimal results. The amount of time you rest between sets primarily determines two critical physiological responses to training: acute recovery (the amount of recovery that takes place between sets, as opposed to chronic recovery, which happens between workouts) and the body’s metabolic and hormonal responses to resistance training.
The concept of acute recovery is straightforward: the longer you rest between sets, the greater your recovery and the better your performance on subsequent sets of an exercise. This does not mean you should automatically spend the better part of your workout session resting. All we are saying is, let the speed and quality of your athletic performance determine how long you should rest between movements.
9. Get an Active Recovery
When you initially switch things up, you will experience a lot of soreness and stiffness. At this point, working out will very likely be the last thing on your mind. However, fitness experts have confirmed that doing nothing when you feel like this is the worse option.
The best way to speed up the recovery process is to stay active. Engage in low intensity exercises like walking, slow jogging, dynamic warm ups, yoga or swimming. Doing these, will increase blood flow to your muscles and hasten their recovery.
Therefore, the next time you are tempted to skip a session when you feel stiff and sore, do not.
10. Gear Up
To get the most out of a workout session, you need to get the right workout gear. Something as simple as feeling confident might take you a step closer to achieving your fitness goals. Make sure your gym bag is always packed with the right equipment and the right gear so that you are always prepared. Even if you have to travel on a whim or you cannot make it to the gym, having the right tools will ensure that you are always on track.
Although I have given you tips on how to train like a professional athlete, I can not guarantee that it will be easy. It will require consistency, dedication and hard work. So take a closer look at your current exercise program and see if you can take it to the next level.