As most of seasoned athletes can attest to, training is a curious combination of science and art. At times, progress can stall even in presence of honest-to-goodness hard work. This is completely normal and is in fact, a common problem faced even by professional athletes all over the world. In order to combat this problem, it is important to first understand the principles of the effective training. With these concepts in mind, we can then better understand our body and discover how to make our training sessions far more productive in the long run!
1. Training in isolation will not get you far
To progress as an athlete, it is important to see the bigger picture and to aim for holistic improvement. Yes – training sessions are important, but so are sleep, stress and nutrition. Indeed, many aspects of your life will affect your physical and mental well-being, and they simply cannot be neglected. Training alone will only account for so much of your progress; further improvement ultimately depends on your overall lifestyle.
2. Energy cannot come from nothing
The longer and harder you train, the more calories you lose. Consequently, you will need more calories (from food) to make up for the loss. Without sufficient input, your body will start to break down your muscles for fuel (i.e. catabolism), thus stalling your progress. Additionally, your choice of food is critical; ensure that you look into the macronutrients and micronutrients content of your food choices, to ensure that you receive sufficient nutrition.
3. Balance is key
Prioritising the results of training is important, but it is unwise to place it on a mantle at the expense of everything else. Overtraining will cause unnecessary stress on your mind and body, and this will ultimately do more harm than good to your health. As with all other aspects of life, balance is key. Always ensure that your rest days are sufficient enough to allow to recover from training. It is also a good idea to vary the intensity and volume of your training sessions throughout your training cycle. Even though strength and muscle can be built across most repetition and set ranges, sticking to one particular modality for too long can result in the stimulus of training being diminished,
4. Listen to your body
In this day and age, we are often told that rest is for the weak and that pushing through discomfort is a must for athletes to succeed. Ignoring the pleas of your body when it is blatantly begging you for a reprieve however, is dangerous and perhaps the quickest towards guaranteeing a sporting demise. If your body is constantly in pain, don't brush it off! Receiving a proper diagnosis is critical for preventing chronic or even life-threatening conditions. At the very least, take a couple of days off and see if your body is able to recover on its own.
Re-evaluate your approach to training with these key principles in mind and you might breathing new life into your routines!. Never settle, always question and always look for a more efficient way of doing things. Remember: more is not better, BETTER is better.