Always have a plan
When turning up to a training sessions always have a plan and a purpose. What exercises do you plan to do in that session? Have you done this session before and if so, is there a way you can progress by adding a bit of extra weight, running a bit faster on that lap or maybe finish with a new ab routine?
Once you’ve finished your session give yourself a little progress report for the next time you do that session. What could be improved next time? What worked/didn’t work? Make sure you book that session into your diary for the following week so that you have a plan of constant progression each week in place. This will prevent boredom, ensure that you get optimum results from your training routine and helps drip feed you those extra little performance gains each week to keep you feeling a sense of achievement.
Respect Yourself and Your Body – Prioritise Recovery
An informed athlete knows that a well implemented recovery plan is a key element for a successful athletic career. Without a diligent recovery plan, we risk injury, burnout (both physical and mental), recurrent illness and large gaps of missed training days which hinder our performance goals.
When thinking of recovery, I like to think of Ying and Yang. Balance. If you push too hard, you break too quickly and on the contrary if you don’t push at all you become too pliable and capsize. All elements of life require balance of both chaos and order. This is a known.
Recovery comes in many forms. Food is a fantastic medicine when it comes to recovery. Hippocrates had it right when he mentioned ‘Let thy food be thy medicine.’ A lot of us have the mentality that if we ‘work hard’ at the gym then we can get a free ticket to eating what we want. This narrow- minded way of thinking can come at a great detriment to our recovery. Rather than thinking ‘I went to the gym so I’m going to reward myself with chocolate,’ change your mentality to ‘My body performed well for me today, I’m going to reward it with the fuel it requires to repair and come back stronger for next week.’
If you are pushing yourself hard in training and pushing hard at the gym you may want to also consider meditation, slow walks in nature or one of your favourite forms of relaxation. Constantly staying in a state of rush, high stress or performance can put our bodies in a constant sympathetic state which can hinder our performance results and our health. Scheduling time out to relax and wind down can bring our mind and bodies back into a parasympathetic state.
Sleep! Easier said than done right? Did you know that most athletes aim to sleep 9-10 hours a night? Our bodies train that hard that we need that extra time to repair. Sleep is where the true magic happens. As a trainer, a lot of clients tell me that they struggle to sleep. I usually find this is due to having a poor sleep routine. As a rule of thumb, aim to go to bed the same time every night and wake up the same time every day. It won’t have magic results straight away but stick at it and eventually your body will adapt. I also make a point of making sure that I go to bed half an hour before I plan to go to sleep. In this time, I turn my phone on aeroplane mode and silently read an inspirational book or a light non-fiction novel. A lot of us think our poor brains are like computers and we can just schedule a time we would like them to switch off and ‘poof’ we are asleep. Treat your brain to a half hour wind down session before bed and he/she will reward you with more sleep and better recovery.
Learn to make best friends with the Your World Fitness Ice-Bath. In 2017 the National Strength and Conditioning Association published a systematic review and meta-analysis on whether the ice bath for recovery was effective (Higgins 2017). Results showed that cold water immersion was beneficial for recovery in athletes that had completed an exercise session 24 hours prior. One of the most significant importance was the effect that it had on attenuating neuromuscular performance 24hrs following sport performance. Are you finding the ice bath a bit nippy? Don’t panic, we all do at first. In preparation for your first ice-bath session try turning your shower nozzle to cold for the last minute to two minutes of your shower to get use to the sudden change in temperature. When you enter the ice bath take a nice, deep breath in and a big, slow breath out and repeat. Try to focus more on your breathing and keeping it deep and slow rather than on the sensation of the cold. Don’t be alarmed when your feet start to tingle, that happens to all of us, just try and distract yourself. Aim for 30-60 secs for your first time and aim to go longer each time up to a maximum of 15 minutes. Remember to drink lots of water afterwards.
Try our Your World Exclusive Prehab class. Designed to include therapy-based movements and exercises in order to avoid injury, decrease pain, increase athletic performance or prepare for a surgery.
An absolute must for anybody wishing to move better and the best part is that all classes are predesigned for you so all you need to do is turn up.
Master the Art of Discipline – Delaying gratification
There’s no denying that we live in an extremely fast paced world. Fast cars, fast internet access, fast food…everything is always on the go. This quick fix, fast paced mindset can be a huge detriment to our health and fitness goals. Shaping the body is an art, it takes time, dedication and discipline. When we look too much into achieving what we want NOW we miss the entire process of learning and the growth and development that is required for any mastery – especially body mastery.
As kids we are taught to wait patiently and our patience is rewarded. We are also taught to do the difficult, mundane tasks first before we get to the fun tasks. Homework before TV, eat your greens and you can have your ice-cream…etc. As adults we forget to exercise this patience ourselves. How many of you reading this make sure you do the mundane tasks at work first so the rest of your day at work is more enjoyable? How many of you finish all your greens on your plate before you reward yourself with snacks? I’m going to talk to you like I would a child now, you must lift the weights at the gym before your start to get the body you desire! A good exercise for discipline that I give myself is I always wait 60 seconds before eating when my plate is placed in front of me. This allows me to slow down, become more mindful of what is going on around me and exercise the discipline of patience.
Some things in life are worth waiting for and fitness is no exception. The patience, discipline and mastery that you learn at the gym and your ability to turn up and do what is required despite what your rushed head tells you is an art and one that will reflect into every being of your life. First things first though, like everything in life, the mastery of self-discipline comes with practice…I guess now is the time you started heading to your workout then…See you soon.
The Your World Nerd
Higgins, TR, Greene, DA & Baker, MK 2017, ‘Effects of Cold Water Immersion and Contrast Water Therapy for Recovery From Team Sport: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis’, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 31, no. 5, pp. 1443–1460.