Jul 22 2014

Three tips to enhance your sporting performance

Whilst I am a physique athlete, I still have to run my business full-time, so I  am always looking for ways to streamline my training.  Cutting out the rubbish and staying on top of new theories and techniques allows me to make the most of my valuable training time. So…

Whilst I am a physique athlete, I still have to run my business full-time, so I  am always looking for ways to streamline my training.  Cutting out the rubbish and staying on top of new theories and techniques allows me to make the most of my valuable training time. So here are a few ways I believe have worked wonders for my performance, and the performance of my clients who are involved in a variety of competitive sports.

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1.  Stretch / Foam roll.   The development of your muscles whether you are looking to tone or build is dependant on the quality of your tissue.  Tight knotted tissue will restrict the uptake of nutrients into your muscles, even affecting it ability to contract optimally.  These tight tissues will restrict your blood vessels, preventing fluid transfer. This means you will find it more difficult to extract of scar tissue and by-products for excretion.  In real terms this will means that certain muscle group will not be getting oxygen in, and lactate out fast enough – so you are going to fatigue faster than your ‘supple’ competition.

Solution – foam roll the areas you’re to work before you start training, to ensure you warm-up properly!  Olympic athletes warm-up and so should you.  A good rule of thumb is to cause as much discomfort to the exercising muscles as you can with a foam roller or lacrosse ball for at least 2 minutes.  After training you should stretch as this promotes two way transfer (nutrients in, waste products out)  NB you can stretch prior to training, however this can affect your strength output negatively.

2.  Squat every time you’re at the gym.  Especially endurance athletes struggle with this idea.  However all top athletes squat heavy, if you don’t, I’m sorry to say that at some point you will be stuck on a plateau.  I’m not talking about bodyweight, I mean with a substantial weight.  If you can put the bar on your back without the use of a squat rack then there’s no point.  Why is this?  Well most sports require some running; each step as you run is approximately four times your body  weight, so squatting 30kg won’t help much if you weigh 60kg.  When I served as a Paratrooper, we always trained for the worst day possible, and your weight training needs to test you appropriately.

Solution – Start with a weight you can lift for five sets and five reps.  Each week increase the weight by 2.5kg, eventually when you cannot complete all the required reps, drop the weight by 10% can continue as before.  NB Ensure that you squat until your hips go below your knees.  If you cannot do this this then you need to work on your flexibility (see point 1), or book in for a flexibility assessment.

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3.  Vary your tempo.  If you train slow, you will be slow, fact. Possibly my favourite quote is ‘speed kills… everyone who doesn’t have it.’  You’ve halted your performance by not developing a fifth gear that you can easily access.  Raw speed cannot be held for longer than about 20 seconds, so if you are doing an interval that lasts 2 minutes then that’s not true speed work.  On the other end of the spectrum if your sport requires speed and power such as football or rugby, slower work can be  used as recovery, not all your training needs to be at game pace.  If you imagine your body as a car, if you drive it constantly as though on a track day, it won’t last long.  ‘Slow’ work can calm your nervous system down and help with muscle soreness.

Solution – For speed development nothing beats 100m sprints outside.  In the gym, concentrate on lifting heavy weights with a fast contraction, it’s impossible to lift a heavy weight slowly.  For those who need to calm it down, adding low impact work like swimming or even yoga can give you that edge.  Ryan Giggs attributes his long career to his ability to balance his training with regular low impact recovery work.

You’d be surprised how these few simple tweaks will improve your performance.  Sometimes keeping it simple can gain you that PB you’ve been working to achieve.

For more tips why not follow me on twitter @skkassam or Becs @becscronshaw

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Salman