When it comes to sports training, there are several components of physical fitness that are important. Going to the gym without a plan is not wise. If you want to excel, it’s time to hone in on your training and focus on the fundamental skills required for athletic performance. These skills are strength, power, coordination, flexibility, balance, speed, and agility. Each one of these are essential for performing at your best. Below, I have listed a few tips that can help you improve in these areas.
If you’re used to training for aesthetics you will need to shift the focus from muscle shape to increasing strength. Incorporating more compound exercises and aiming for progressively heavier loads will really ramp up the strength gains. Squats, deadlifts, and power cleans are the staple for strength training and must be included in your program. You should also work to increase repetitions on bodyweight exercises, such as pull-ups, pushups, and dips.
• Power, Coordination, Speed & Agility
Cardio sessions should be kept to shorter 15-20 minute high intensity interval sessions with a focus on explosion. Some good examples would be track sprints, hill sprints, plyometrics, and agility drills. They each stress you a little different so try working them all into your routine. The sprint intervals will boost your speed, plyometrics will increase your explosive power, and agility drills will improve your coordination. Collectively these exercises hone in on your timing and muscle activation for more efficient movements when playing your sport.
• Flexibility & Balance
Try increasing your flexibility and balance through yoga. This may sound silly to some who are used to hardcore training, but don’t be fooled, yoga is very challenging. Increasing flexibility will benefit your weight training because you’ll have a better range of motion and get more out of your training. Better posture stability helps eliminate injuries and improves your reaction time. Yoga can help you improve in these areas, but if it’s not your thing, try incorporating a Bosu or stability ball into your lifting routine to improve those stabilizer muscles. Let’s not forget about stretching and foam rolling, as these are great ways to increase your flexibility and avoid any muscle strains.
Nutrition, supplementation, and rest are all important for proper recovery. A good diet will provide the energy and recovery you need for that next brutal training session. Athletes have a higher metabolism and getting enough nutrients is crucial to keeping consistent energy levels. So, when your sport is in season you should not be in a calorie deficit. Water and fluids are also essential, as these help to keep the body hydrated and at the right temperature.
Vitamin supplements are a great way fill in any nutritional gaps you may be lacking from food. Vitamins serve as regulators of metabolic functions and are critical for sports performance and a strong immune system. I recommend taking a good multi-vitamin, plus vitamin D, C, and a B-complex. BCAAs and glutamine are also a must. Let’s not forget about sleep, as this affects the way our brain and body functions. Lack of sleep can lead to mental errors, impaired judgment, and a slower reaction time. So, be sure to get plenty of sleep after those hard training days.
Keep in mind that every sport requires a specific type of training. It is best to hire a professional trainer who specializes in the field of sport you are interested in.
By Claudia Virgil, Personal Trainer and Team Max Athlete