Why training like an athlete may not work for you

Why training like an athlete may not work for you

by Vanessa Ng 21 May 2018

Wherever we look, success stories are glamourised and celebrated. This could not be any truer when it comes to sports periodicals and news segments. Since the 70s, magazines in particular would run articles covering the training regimens of legends and professionals alike. While great for providing some valuable insight on how different training methods could work, it has led many a reader to believe that they too could achieve the same level of greatness if they committed to a similar (if not the exact) training programme. The thing is, forcing an athlete’s rigorous and tailored training schedule on yourself may not work well over the long run.


First and foremost, maintaining a frequently high level of intensity in training is not for everyone, much less a beginner. Being an athlete is a full-time job. Not only are they more skilled, their physique is also more in tune with the sport that they are doing, and they would have had years to build a strong athletic foundation with regards to their level of strength and conditioning. If you are an amateur, chances are that your performance (and body) will take a beating if you ramp up your training intensity to a similar state.


Another fad that is well-entrenched is the idea of blindly following nutrition plans of professional athletes. After all, that’s where 80% of your results come from right? While there is nothing wrong with structuring a diet to hard nutritional science, an athlete’s eating plan is a slightly different creature altogether. The key thing to remember is that nutrition for athletes is geared solely towards supporting their level of training, and these individuals train A LOT. While a professional strongman might be following a diet consisting of a high number of calories, that’s only because his training DEMANDS that he eats that much. Getting to that level takes time and your body may not be conditioned to handle or even be capable of handling 9,000 calories of food a day. It’s not just about putting on weight; eating that much food when you’re not prepared for it can damage your health.


Training to better your health is not the same as training for athletic performance. As a beginner or amateur, you may lack a solid foundation to even train without exposing yourself to high risks of injury. Even with all the knowledge and resources at their disposal, retired athletes often face a plethora of joint issues and other pains. The fact that athletes in many competitive sports are considered “over the hill” once they turn 30 illustrates just how short-lived a professional athlete’s career can be. Shine brighter; burn faster.


While getting stronger and more conditioned should definitely be a cornerstone of your training, longevity should also be a key consideration. This is why many coaches have their athletes turn to restorative practices like chiropractic and yoga as a means of prolonging their performance lifespan. For the average fitness enthusiast, you’d get far more appreciable results if you adopt the mindset of “staying in the game” for as long as possible. Even if you do compete in a sport somewhat regularly, there is no need to follow a programme that is designed to cater to the professional athlete unless your life revolves around competitions.


It is always tempting to follow a pre-designed workout routine to achieve a certain body type of your dreams. This is especially so if it is endorsed by a famous or well-respected athlete. While aiming high and pushing yourself to your limits can improve your fitness drastically, knowing when to back off and what works/doesn’t work for you is important when it comes to preventing unnecessary injuries and staying healthy.