Close your eyes and think about your favorite athlete. Think about your favorite athlete completing one of the signature plays or moments of their career. What do you see?
Some of the first things you might gravitate towards are traits of physical accomplishment. Did they change direction with ease, leaving a defender paralyzed? Did they move so fast or so consistent that it looked like they could go on forever?
Athletic feats are mesmerizing and, in one way or another, include traits we wish we could emulate. It might be the traits of power and strength. It might be a trait of discipline. It might be the body composition we associate with athletes.
You might feel like you are unable to be like an athlete due to being "too old" or "too creaky."
This is not the case! You can train like an athlete with the use of proper progressions, regressions, and volume management. Here are a few training tips that your favorite athlete uses and that you can implement with your own training.
1) Focus on speed and power
The attributes of speed and power are quick to diminish as we age or in an untrained state. You might think of power as an Olympic weightlifter completing a clean & jerk with a massive amount of weight. You might think of speed as Usain Bolt running a world record in the 100. While you are right, power also influences your ability to get out of a chair. Speed aids in your ability to safely catch yourself from slipping and avoiding a full fall. Speed and power are critical components of life and athletic performance.
What is the easiest way to train these variables? Jumping!
When is the last time you have jumped consistently in training? For many, the answer is "I can't even remember." Jumping might be scary for you due to knee pain and the perceived risk of injury. Chances are you are just approaching this wrong. Remember, to train like an athlete, you need to train with proper progressions and regressions. These progressions and regressions are specific to you and your abilities.
Let's say you have a rocky history with jumping. Let's look at a few low impact options to help you work on speed and power.
This exercise is simple, keeps you close to the ground, and minimizes chances for improper joint angels. With these variables controlled, you can jump without as much stress on your skeleton and musculature.
Seeing this exercise might make you cringe at first. Hear me out! By using a box, you can still focus on jumping with maximal power but cutting the landing distance in half or more. By doing this, you take away some of the fearful effects of a hard landing.
High Knee Run
One of the best ways to get faster is to move fast! Getting your mind and muscles communicating at a higher level can help you increase speed in no time. Sprinting or a high knee run can help you work on speed and moving fast.
2) Be diligent with your warm-up
If you reviewed a high-level athlete's training plan, you would probably be shocked to see how much time an athlete spends at low or moderate levels of activity, fine-tuning their skills. This is where your warm-up comes in!
How many times do you skimp on a warm-up or completely skip it due to a lack of time? This is a costly mistake. When you do not warm-up, your first efforts in training or practice might be less than optimal when it comes to technique. Then you are working on bad habits.
A warm-up is a time to work out the kinks from your day-to-day life and prepare your body to move at a high level. It is also a great time to work on movement weaknesses that you are striving to improve. By slowing things down and taking time to focus on your technique, you can better see your movement needs and improve.
What are the keys to a good warm-up?
3) Build Strength
Behind power and speed, strength is the next variable that declines during aging or inactivity. Treat strength as your foundation. Strength is a foundation to athleticism. Even endurance athletes benefit from strength training. One of my favorite memories from working with a group of triathletes while in Austin, TX was during power zone testing time.
If you are not familiar with power zone training, you complete a FTP (Functional Threshold Power) test every 4-6 weeks. This test helps you establish training zones and what power output you should aim to maintain in competition.
With this group, we went through a deadlift strength building block between FTP tests. When it came to testing day, the athletes saw huge jumps in their FTP scores without adding in more cycling training.
The athletes were shocked and couldn't understand why they saw improvement. Strength is your foundation. Increase your strength and you move to a higher starting point when it comes to your athletic endeavors.
Strength training does not have to be super complex. Focus on completing a squat, hinge, push, pull, brace, and rotate two or three times a week.
One thing your favorite has learned is that recovery is as important, if not more, than training. Training is needed to provide a stimulus for change. Recovery is the time when change gets to happen.
Recovery does not have to mean inactivity. Recovery could surface in the form of a light walk with the dogs. It could be a regeneration routine on your off days. Recovery is still a purposeful act.
Here is a sample of a regeneration session I utilize with clients. It takes about 20 minutes in all and helps recovery occur and movement quality to improve.
Make a change
Here is the deal, if you are ready to make a change, I am here to help. Maybe you want to set a national record in your masters sport. Maybe you want to get out of bed and not feel like crap each day.
Take a chance. Make a change. Join my Custom Training program and take steps to being your best self.
Coach Bo's blog
Here you will find posts about the topics that come up during the journey to your best performance!