The Summer Olympics are a great tradition that can motivate even the surliest kid to start dreaming international sports dreams. It definitely has more kick than a New Year's resolution. So take that energy from the quadrennial athletic competition and apply it to your work out.
We are not Olympic athletes (unless you are, in which case, congratulations!) but that shouldn't stop us from applying the same tools they use. While we might not be able to train 15 hours a day like the American gymnasts or hit tennis balls at a local court for equally as long, we can borrow some of their best advice.
You may have to be creative in how you adapt this to your favorite past-time, be it swimming, running, weight-lifting or something else but these should help any perspective fitness enthusiast reach their goals. A lot of this cycles back around to one another, see if you can spot the connections.
The biggest secret revealed is the mental preparation going around for athletes these days. Coaches are instructing athletes in the practice of visualization, a form of meditation. This could accomplish several goals.
First, it helps relax you especially during anxiety-high times like competition. If you aren't a competitive athlete and are instead exercising for fun, not reaching your goal or plateauing can become stressful and hinder your mental performance. Meditation and visualization will help you keep relaxed and focused.
Next, it can help you reach those goals. By visualizing your objective properly, you can actually emulate physical attributes to achieving it. It's a type of preemptive problem solving where you figure out what you need to do before you actually do it. By envisioning yourself running farther than you have before, you imagine the physical strain and the toil on your body and can mentally prepare for it. Call it exercise homework where you prepare for the hard work before it actually gets too hard to comprehend for your body.
There are a few ways to visualize - internally and externally. Internal is when you picture yourself performing the act and feel your muscles responding. Like when you imagine eating cake and your mouth salivates, your body can physically respond to thoughts about physical activities. By focusing on how your body feels while accomplishing your task, you'll become more aware of it and the strain shouldn't be as overwhelming because it's something you've already prepared for. The other is like being an outside observer, seeing yourself complete the act from on the sideline. By visualizing you accomplishing your goal, you've already broken down mental barriers and stress that comes from worrying if you can accomplish it. The feat becomes another exercise like all the others you've already done.
Experiment with which works better for you to motivate better results. Do this in the morning or at night, either before or after your exercise routine for a mental cool down.
Change It Up
Even Olympic athletes can't focus on their sport all the time. Swimmers will lift to improve their leg and arm strength and runners will bike to increase endurance. A huge increase in yoga activity has been seen this year for the Olympic athletes..
Whether you're a pure weight-lifter or a runner, incorporating another activity to your routine can expand your body's capabilities. A session of yoga will help improve balance for runners and increase weight lifter's range of motion for better lifts. It'll also stretch you out.
Changing it up also gives your body time to recover without sacrificing training time. By adding strength training to your marathon prep, you can still reap the benefits while recovering from your runs.
Go To Bed
Crazy how often this gets overlooked. Surprise, your body is a living thing. And that living thing needs rest. Not just a "take it easy day" but time to shut down and repair itself. The more you push it, the more rest you need. With the way the world works, chances are you aren't getting the amount of sleep you need even as a non-active individual. It's time to make sleep a priority.
The more you increase your activity, the more you need sleep
. Without it, your body and mind both start to slow down and make any progress you could have obsolete. This means you not only should be scheduling your workouts but your sleeping times too. According to the above study, active individuals are more dependent on circadian or sleep cycles. This means you should keep the same bed time to keep your body functioning well. Scheduling your workouts well before you're scheduled to sleep is the best option.
If you're having trouble readjusting your cycle, try a non-addictive supplement like melatonin
. It's great for temporary use while you get your cycle on track.
Schedule in your friends to that cycle you've got going on. Seriously. Even the Olympians get out and blow off steam with their friends. Don't overwork yourself to the point you start hating what you're doing. That's when the burnout happens.
More than that though, make your sport friendlier. This is easier for a team athlete but for the lone swimmer or runner, it can get a little lonely training alone. So don't. Having a buddy with you while you train can make a huge impact on your goals. Not only can it help motivate you but it will decrease stress and increase positive thinking. Studies show
that coaches and parents impact the athlete's performance so it's not stretch to think that positive reinforcement is a great tool and motivator.
Eat Like A Champion
You can't tell me you weren't expecting this, right? Nutrition is such a huge part of maintaining good health and keeping your body strong that it has to go on the list. When you're training, it's different than when you're working out to lose weight. Depending on your sport, your calorie intact should reflect the level of energy you're expending each day. Now, you probably don't have to eat the crazy 12,000 calories Michael Phelps
, USA gold-medal swimmer, did back in the 2008 Olympics. I think a good protein shake and a low-fat, high carb meal bar would suffice.
Maintaining proper nutrition will keep you feeling better, too. Not only will your body feel in top condition but you'll feel like performing your record-crushing feats with a smile on your face. If you're getting into serious competition and training, you should talk to your doctor or a nutritionist to make sure you're eating what you need to. Changing to the wrong diet can have dangerous
effects. If you're trying to break your own records, however, there are plenty of resources on better eating. We have a good selection of healthy food right here
So now that you've got the tips, go out and accomplish your goals! We've got a great selection of sports equipment
to help. Tell us on Facebook
what you're training for and join us in celebrating the Olympics this August! (I will personally have it on 24/7, what about you?)