Getting into amazing shape takes more than just hard work. Here are five tips that will help you get in the best shape possible and get the most from your workouts by training smarter, not just harder.
Tip #1 Use the High/Low Model
The idea behind this model is to separate your training into high and low days. This allows for the body to perform at its peak when it’s time, and gives it a chance to recover between hard training sessions.
On the high days, perform high-intensity intervals and explosive strength type exercises while keeping the overall volume moderate. On the low days, keep the intensity much more moderate and give your body a chance to recover fully. The low days are a perfect time to include technique work and drills and lower intensity conditioning.
Tip #2 Include roadwork circuits in your training
This type of work doesn’t have to mean hitting the pavement. More specific exercises can be used. Try including 4-6 exercises such as shadowboxing, jump rope, med-ball throws, stationary bike, body weight exercises, etc. for 5-10 minutes performed in circuit fashion each once or twice a week. Keep your heart rate between 130-150bpm throughout the entire training session for maximum results
Tip #3 Stop Guessing
Track real numbers to gauge your level of fitness. Purchase a high quality heart rate monitor to help you get the most out of your workouts. A heart rate monitor will give you an accurate gauge of your resting heart rate, and a good measure of your overall aerobic fitness. Most top athletes have resting heart rates in the low to mid 50’s. Also, it will help you manage your rest intervals when training. When doing high intensity training let your heart rate return to 130-140bpm before repeating an interval. This helps make sure you’ve recovered enough and are ready to push yourself to the max. Simply stated, a heart rate monitor will ensure your heart rate is in the right zone for training methods like roadwork circuits and lactate threshold training.
Tip #4 Track and Monitor Your Conditioning
In order to really improve your conditioning, you have to have some gauge of where you are to begin with. If don’t really know where you started, how will you know if you’re moving any closer your goal?
For the purposes of simplicity, the three easiest ways to measure and track your conditioning are the following tests:
- Resting Heart Rate: For the majority of elite athletes, the right target resting heart rate range is in the low to mid 50’s.
- 1.5 mile Run: You’re going to want to shoot for the 8 minute mark and just as importantly, you’ll need to be able to see your heart rate drop at least 30-40 beats within the first minute following the run.
- Heart Rate Recovery – 1 minute following 1.5 mile run: Generally speaking, resting HR is an indicator you can measure on a daily basis, while you might use the 1.5 mile run every 4-6 weeks. Consistent measurement and monitoring is one of the most important steps to make sure your conditioning will improve.
Many people want to improve their conditioning, but then they never try to accurately measure it and have no real way of knowing whether or not their program is actually producing the results they want.
Don’t make this mistake.
Tip #5: Increase Your Training Frequency
One of the biggest mistakes people make to focus only on training harder. They up their intensity and start doing more intervals. However, there should be a good trade off between volume and intensity. You can’t train with both high intensity and high volume without seriously increasing your risk of getting injured or overtraining.
Most athletes will get more out of putting in more time at a lower pace than killing themselves every time they hit the gym. If you train so hard that you can only really get in 3 solid workouts a week, that leaves 4 days you’re not training and that’s a conditioning killer.
The best solution to this problem is to train 2-3 days per week hard and 2-3 days per week moderately. In other words, follow the high/low model described earlier.
Tip #6: Select the Proper Supplements
Elite athletes know that proper nutrition and supplementation is key to performance. The most obvious way to perform at your best is through a healthy diet of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
However, certain supplements have proven to enhance performance. Caffeine is the most time tested supplement to increase blood flow and enhance energy and endurance.
Electrolyte drinks are the foundation of every function of the body including our thoughts. A good source of electrolytes has proven to help with every aspect of performance.
Lastly, branched chained amino acids (BCAAs) and other key amino acids have shown to have tremendous benefits in muscle recovery and increasing strength and explosiveness.
There are thousands of supplements available but these three have proven to be a staple for elite athletes.
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