If you’re reading this article you’re probably already passionate about sports, fitness and anything adrenaline-related. But whatever your current fitness level – and whatever your sport – you can get the most out of your training with these eight simple steps. Give them a try and experience the results for yourself!
1. Warm Up
While your instinct might be to immediately dive into your workout, spending just five to 10 minutes warming up will better prepare your body for exercise. You’ll want to warm up at a pace that gradually gets your heart beating at 50 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. (Note: The basic way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. For example, if you’re 35 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 220 - 35 = 185. For vigorous exercise intensity, you’ll want to be at 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.)
And don’t forget to stretch! It warms your muscles and prepares them for exercise. Warm muscles also allow for a greater range of motion for your joints and make injuries less likely. Along with physically preparing your body for exercise, your warm up can provide a great space to mentally prepare for what’s ahead.
If your goal is to shut out all outside thoughts, get into the zone and focus on reaching new limits, this is the time to do it!
But don’t stop there. By frequently stretching throughout your workout, you’ll promote better circulation – and by increasing blood flow to your muscles, waste products like lactic acid will be removed to help prevent soreness. Each stretch should last approximately 20 to 30 seconds and should have you feeling a mild discomfort but not outright pain. Remember to leave time at the end of your workout to wrap up with some final stretches. Trust me. The next day, you’ll be glad you did!
2. Add Variety
Even the most driven, passionate athletes can reach plateau (both physical and mental) if they aren’t changing things up every once in a while. Don’t be afraid to split your routine in new ways, try different exercises and drills, or move your training from indoors to outdoors. Any of these changes will help send a message to your body that it can’t just “coast” along. Adding variety to your routine is especially important if you’ve been doing the same thing for weeks or even months on end.
3. Rest and Recover
Taking a step back from training probably goes against every fibre of your being. But if you’re not resting, how can you grow?
During intense training, our muscles are essentially “broken down.” The only way for them to recover is to be fed proper nutrition and to have some rest. During this recovery period, our bodies grow bigger and stronger so that our muscles can be broken down again. So don’t be afraid take off a day or two each week, or even a week off every two to three months. You’ll likely come back stronger, more rejuvenated and with more enthusiasm than ever before. Following a break is also the perfect time to modify your training program (see previous section) and start on a fresh footing.
4. Drink up
As you may already know, proper hydration is crucial to your results – especially after a serious workout. It’s critical that you replenish lost fluid during this time so your body can continue to function at its highest level. You’ll also need to ensure you’re hydrated before and during your workout. Every time you hit the gym, go for a run or step onto the field, you should have a water bottle in hand. Then continue to support your system by hydrating throughout the day. You can also benefit from hydration in the form of Herbalife24® Hydrate. This low-calorie advanced hydration supplement can be taken anytime during the day — mornings, during workouts or even at night to maintain body fluid levels.
5. Get Specific
It goes without saying that we all want to be better athletes. But having the goal of “being a better athlete” is too generic and won’t give you the structure you need to reach your objectives. You need a clearer vision, because the more detail you include in your plan, the better your chances of success will be. When outlining your goals, follow the “SMART” formula by choosing goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Focused, and Time-Bound.
Along the same lines of recording your goals, it’s just as important to track your workout progress throughout your journey. This could mean recording specific exercises, weights, reps, distances, etc., that you’ve reached each time you’ve laced up. Your training log will be a blueprint to your successes or failures through trial and error, and will give you a better sense of where you can make modifications to enhance performance. Think of it as part of your overall game plan to success!
6. Find a Buddy
Do you ever have those days when your laces are tied, your workout clothes are on, but your heart’s just not into it? It can be oh-so-tempting to just shrug off your workout and hop on the couch, but what if one missed workout turns into another, and another and – well, you get the picture! Here’s where a workout buddy can really help. On days when your motivation is hovering below its usual level, your workout buddy can act as your “accountability partner” and give you the push you need to get back in the game. He or she will also be there to celebrate successes with you, and vice versa. If you don’t already have a workout buddy, let the search begin now!
7. Challenge Yourself
Despite having the occasional “off” day, you probably have it in your DNA to always keep on going. That’s what being a serious athlete is all about. But are you always challenging yourself? Are you always doing more than you think you can do?
Here’s some easy advice: When you’re in the gym and feel like you can’t do any more reps, crank out just two or three more. When you’re running and feel like you’ve hit the wall, take just a few extra strides. It’s not about making huge leaps every time, because you don’t want to compromise technique or risk injury. It’s about taking small steps that will lead to consistent gains. If you don’t try to add weight at every workout or go further on every run, your body won’t have anything to adapt to. So keep it guessing and keep on growing!
8. Nourish for Success
So you’re doing all the physical work – now comes the healthy nutrition to complement it. Throughout your day, you should be consuming a mix of lean proteins, low-glycemic carbohydrates and healthy fats (and don’t forget to add a multivitamin to the mix). Protein is especially important for athletes of all levels, as it helps to build and repair muscle tissues following intense training.
When you want a break from preparing whole-food meals, you can use Herbalife24® Formula 1 Sport to get your vital macronutrients in. It’s a quick, healthy meal that can be prepared anywhere, anytime to ensure your body is always properly fuelled. To support sports performance, also check out the rest of the Herbalife24® line. You’ll find great supplements for that extra support you need before, during and after your workout.
Good luck, and enjoy the journey!