Eat and Train like an Athlete
Eat and Train like an Athlete
Eat and Train like an Athlete – All athletes require the basic sports performance program which includes 3 different exercise modalities and the same nutritional foundation…
Are your workouts and nutrition meeting your specific needs?
Everyone should Eat and Train like an Athlete:
.1 “Athletic” training and nutrition allows for development of lean muscle mass, increases explosiveness, increases joint mobility, and strengthens tendons and ligaments. However, when training like an athlete, the use of proper form, workload, and appropriate number of ground based contacts is an imperative
.2 An experienced trainer or experienced training partners are vital due to the higher risk of injury with this program. If movements are done improperly or egos are not in check, injuries are certain to occur. Not only should you understand how to perform the movement properly but also the purpose of the movement. Constantly reminding yourself of why you are doing a movement tends to stop you from making bad weight choice decisions and to focus on proper form, decreasing the risk of injury. As was mentioned in the last article, our bodies were shaped by evolution. We are a conglomeration of cells that cascade billions of chemicals in order to function optimally. Nature gives the human race 35 trillion dollars a year in goods and services. This is more than the economies of every country on earth. The bees pollinate our fruits and vegetables, the animals we eat, the mycelium and wetlands clean our water. However, as we continue to mistreat the planet it is unable to function properly for our survival and many of these goods and services are lost.The same is true of our body. Our bodies when cared for properly, allow us to flourish. Proper treatment of our bodies allow our muscles to respond, repair and develop, and allows optimal sleep, digestion, and proper mentality. When our bodies are not treated properly, they are unable to give us these services. Strength and conditioning programs and nutritional requirements need to be interwoven. When attempting to increase lean body mass, it is imperative to remember what the body requires in order to do so without disturbing natural cycles
.3 For instance, it is very easy to disturb your sleep with improper supplementation, lifestyle choices, or overtraining which causes a cascade of negative effects. As you continue to construct your individual program go slowly and make changes with the idea that there are lots of ways to go wrong. Because most athletes need the same basic requirements out of their program: to get bigger, stronger, and more explosive; we incorporate 3 modalities of training: traditional weight training, plyometrics, and explosive weight training. The cornerstone of any strength program is traditional weight training such as the bench, squat and deadlift. Most gyms cater to these programs and most young athletes begin performing these movements first and continue these programs in isolation for the rest of their lives. For some people, this is a good idea. Traditional weight training, when done properly, especially for many people who are unable to perform explosive training and or plyometrics, tends to be the safest, especially when done with a trainer who is experienced in working around injuries or other issues. Traditional weight training has shown to increase bone density and muscle mass regardless of age and can be done at paces to increase strength or cardiovascular fitness or a combination using many different exercises, sets, and rep regimens
.4 Plyometrics or “jump training” is the foundation of almost all athletic events due to the fact that they are ground based. The harder you are able to push off the ground, the further you can hit or throw a ball, tackle an opponent, or run faster. Baseball, football, soccer, basketball, wrestling, volleyball, and cross country are all ground based sports. Plyometrics not only allows for increased core stability, but also teaches athletes to “get their hips threw properly” in order to maximize push and torque. Remember, there is always inherent risk in plyometric training due to its explosive nature. Thus, plyos are never done in isolation
.5 They must be incorporated into a strength program in order to deliver the the joint stability that a proper strength programs delivers. Even though there is inherent risk in plyometric programs, as there is inherent risk in all sports, proper plyometric training can decrease the risk in actual athletic competition when maximal effort is required. The explosive weight training incorporates Olympic lifts, med balls, and complimentary movements such as overhead squats and front squats. These are difficult, however, not impossible for more mature athletes athletes due to the fact that they have done huge volumes of traditional weight lifting and have developed flexibility issues.. These athletes should start light and progress slowly as their flexibility increases. Athletes who begin to use explosive weight training early on, develop joint mobility from the start and are able to develop quickly. However, it doesn’t matter when you start, it’s better late than never. This increased joint mobility along with the thickening of ligaments decreases the risk of injury when it is necessary to perform at peak performance in competition and greatly improves power production. With a few exceptions, even while an athlete is in season, all three modalities need to be used, always with an eye to not overtrain or injure an athlete. The workouts would decrease in poundage and volume in order to be at peak performance for games or events. Often when athletes have long competitive seasons, it becomes necessary to develop a program orchestrated so that less important competitions or events are trained through, if not, too much training is missed and performance begins to decrease. It is always a balancing act, training maximally and fighting injury and overtraining. Balancing the training modalities should be planned, however flexible.7 Athletes need to be constantly monitored and workouts modified to account for many factors. Whatever’s trained first in the week typically improves fastest. Thus, movements like cleans and snatches which develop a great deal of what the athletes needs for increased performance require huge amounts of effort and force are done on the first two workouts of the week along with plyometrics. Heavy lower body movements such as back squats and or deadlifts are reserved for the last day of the week. If heavy legs are done early in the week it increases your risk from injuries from plyos and olympics. Heavy leg days should not be done on plyo days due to increased risk of injury and the inability for our bodies to recover from the stress. Workouts should be done three days a week with rest or active rest day in between each workout in order to recover fully. After explosive and plyometric movements are performed, the workout progress to traditional weight lifting routines in order to strength tendon and ligaments and add lean body mass. Workouts include a core warm up period in order to get blood flowing and warm joints up to prevent injury and to promote longevity. An active warm-up period follows where hurdle work
or plyometric progressions are done. The workout should then shift to your explosive movement of the day followed by movements such as front squats and overhead squats which are done early in the week with deadlifts and back squats latter in the week in order to not over tax your lower back. Then a typical bodybuilding workout follows progressing from the largest body parts to the smallest with the addition of a stretch period at the end. Including the warm-up and stretch, the workout should not take longer than an hour and ten minutes, as a general rule. Set and rep strategies will vary based upon where the athlete is in season or where they are at in their training phase. Workouts need to be intense and focused due to the nature of the movements. When it comes to nutrition, coaches who push excessive and rapid weight gain with excessive caloric intake do not understand how to get the body to work properly. Athletes should judge improvements in their performance by factors such as gains in traditional lifts, increased vertical jump, increased foot speed, improved power clean, or even how you look in the mirror but never by how much you weigh. Just because the scale says you’ve gotten heavier does not mean you’re maximizing your athletic potential. Remember, the only thing we’ve seen to extend lifespan is calorie reduction. That is not possible for many athletes, however, a nutrient dense diet should be strictly adhered to when attempting to increase body mass to reduce stress on the body as much as possible.8 Carrying excess body mass is not healthy and does not improve performance. As athletes get older they need to strive to get leaner not bigger. Large BMI’s whether muscular or not, cause your heart to work excessively. If you need to carry excess body mass for your sport, choosing a “Spartan” lifestyle can combat some of the serious stress excess body mass places on you. The difficulty with athletes nutrition is multi-fold, however, a large component is either a lack of home cooked meals and or lack of basic nutritional knowledge. Figuring out how many calories athletes need is determined by collecting as much data as possible in order to ascertain what is being expended and what is needed. However, once you determine your daily energy expenditure and your specific caloric needs, you may decide to supplement your diet with increased nutrients and calories. Choosing low calorie, nutrient dense foods are best for athletes maintaining a weight or athletes striving to gain body mass. Keep in mind that our bodies can only metabolize about 6 ounces of meat at once; you can definitely eat a 16 oz. steak but your body will be unable to effectively utilize it. It is not only a waste of resources but also causes your digestive system to back up and not function efficiently. The trick to nutrition is consistency. Never miss a meal and never overeat at any single meal. Pulling on a plant doesn’t make it grow faster. Grow properly, grow optimally. All athletes work off of the same basic nutritional program, a well balanced diet. Portion size being the one large variable.. As a very simple rule, set your plate up with half the plate containing your quality carb, a quarter of your plate with your protein and the other quarter with your vegetables. It is essential to be regimented with your nutrition and rely primarily on quality food, not protein shakes. Time needs to be taken to make food, which does become difficult when extremely busy. Icelandic strongman rely upon a winter stew of lamb and root vegetables which is nutrient dense and can be easily made in a crock pot in a short period of time. There are many meals that can be made like this and in large quantities.
Many athletes have awful gastric environments due to cheap protein powders and poor nutritional choices. If you are taking a protein supplement and are constantly gassy, it’s probably the protein powder and you’re clearly having trouble digesting it, so why waste your money and perturb your system. First try to fulfill your caloric and nutritional needs with food. Try to eat something raw with every meal, such as raw vegetables and fruits, this allows for faster and more complete digestion. More mature athletes may want to add things like kombucha in order to increase gut health and nutrient absorption. One large nutritional problem athletes have is the large nutritional and caloric needs they need to fulfill on a daily basis combined with an active lifestyle. Often nutritional supplementation is needed for athletes competing at elite levels to combat nutritional or caloric shortfalls and combat oxidative stress associated with intense workouts and competitions. These supplements should be thoroughly discussed and researched. Obviously, drug tested athletes should never take a supplement without being certain it is allowed. I look forward to questions and comments. In our next article we will discuss…
1.Prince DZ, Bartels MN. Optimizing Exercise Performance in Older Adults. Current Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Reports. 2016 Mar 1;4(1):37-41. 2. Wilson GJ, Newton RU, Murphy AJ, Humphries BJ. The optimal training load for the development of dynamic athletic performance. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 1993 Nov;25(11):1279-86. 3. Simpson NS, Gibbs EL, Matheson GO. Optimizing sleep to maximize performance: implications and recommendations for elite athletes. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports. 2017 Mar 1;27(3):266-74. 4. Fleck SJ, Kraemer W. Designing Resistance Training Programs, 4E. Human Kinetics; 2014 Feb 14. 6. Patel NN. Plyometric training: A review article. International Journal of Current Research and Review. 2014 Aug 1;6(15):33. 7. Hug M, Mullis PE, Vogt M, Ventura N, Hoppeler H. Training modalities: over-reaching and over-training in athletes, including a study of the role of hormones. Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2003 Jun 30;17(2):191-209. 8. Walford RL, Harris SB, Gunion MW. The calorically restricted low-fat nutrient-dense diet in Biosphere 2 significantly lowers blood glucose, total leukocyte count, cholesterol, and blood pressure in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 1992 Dec 1;89(23):11533-7.