Every athlete knows success in competition begins with hard work in the off-season and in practice. What gets lost in the push to outwork the competition is how proper nutrition and adequate recovery can result in even greater gains.
Overtraining is one of the biggest risks to an athlete’s health. While this is particularly true in endurance sports such as distance running and swimming, the same holds true for activities such as weightlifting and other high-stress forms of training.
Rest Is As Important As Stress
A strenuous workout that stretches the limits of endurance or strength helps the body and mind prepare for the next time they’re asked to respond. Progressive training creates a new normal both physically and mentally, and is more effective than making huge jumps in workout demands.
The body can learn to adapt to these progressive overloads, but significant improvements are more likely when it has the opportunity to recover in between. Excessively demanding workouts too often rob the body of its ability to adapt, often resulting in fatigue, injury and burnout.
The ultimate goal of working out is to improve performance during competition rather than drive the body to the point of mental or physical exhaustion.
Plan for Progression
Repeating the same workout activities day after day is a sure ticket to overuse injuries. Instead, create a plan to incrementally improve a variety of physical aspects. Depending on the sport, this can include core strength, flexibility, weight training, interval training and endurance work.
Fatigue is the great technique-robber for any exercise. Athletes and coaches should keep proper technique as a focus of any workout segment to prevent injury. Seeing the benefits of performance progression training takes time, but the results, in terms of improvement and lower injury risk, are worth it.
High-octane Nutrition Fuels the Body
Limiting sugars while optimizing carbohydrates and protein gives an athlete’s body the proper fuel to recover and perform. Carbohydrates are a key energy source because they break down into glucose, which serves as the body’s primary fuel.
The body stores some glucose in the muscles as glycogen. Its presence helps the body avoid accessing the protein it has stored in muscles to use as an alternative energy source.
Excess sugar is an absolute no-no for high-performance athletes, especially immediately before exercise. After an initial spike in blood-sugar levels, the body releases additional insulin to bring those levels back into balance. The result is a drop in blood-sugar levels and a sudden feeling of fatigue or low energy.
For more information about working smarter to achieve bigger gains, please call the Sports Medicine team at Saint Francis Medical Center at 573-331-5153.