Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bigger, Faster, Stronger....

Any athlete who ever was, is, and is to be, all want to know the same thing....


Obviously each of these can be a topic in and of itself. For the sake of this blog, I'm keeping it simple and straight foreword. Let's take a look at these questions one by one.

First of all, do you really have to get bigger? Is it a necessity to your health, well-being, and/or career or lifestyle? Or is it for looks, to have a different body shape, or perhaps bring the body into a more symmetrical alignment? One must realize, to become bigger it generally takes the edge off of being faster, so if you're out to have some of both you'll need to balance the two out to get a fair return. Bigger doesn't always equate with stronger either, so again, if you're looking to be bigger, stronger, and faster,'ll have to divide these three targets accordingly to get the best outcome. 

Many athletes will come to me asking why their not getting size, or shape when they train so hard. Ninety percent of the time, after going over their training schedule, it's easy to understand why, they're not resting enough. That's right, you've got to rest my friends, despite what your OCD brain tells you. Work it hard when you're working, but rest as well. Get off your feet, better yet, elevate them, ice them, massage them, give them a break, or your back, chest, arms, core, etc. It's when you're resting your muscles that they heal, repair, and as long as your getting good, solid nutrition in, they're also rebuilding and yes, growing! Let those baby's grow. Give them a chance to do their repair work, to strengthen, regenerate, and refresh. When you allow yourself the correct recovery time, you'll be able to perform much better with each workout, whether it's stamina, endurance, or strength.

This is a good question, as it's different for everyone. You're own recovery times will differ with each and every workout depending on what you did, intensity performed, amount of repetitive movement, if and what you're supplementing with, what you ate, how you slept, current health, attitude, and even the status of your relationships with those closest to you. All affect recovery efforts. There is no 'magical' amount of hours, days, etc. The only way to determine what's right for you is to learn to listen to your body. Tune in, what's sore? Swollen? Do you have any other symptoms going on, fever? Rash? Fatigue (other than the normal post-workout flush)? Body aches? Nausea (again well after your workout)? Headache? Make note of these items. If you want the quickest recovery, know how and when to ice, take ice baths, apply heat, use massage, visualization, supplementation, and hydrate above and beyond measure. Flush out waste products and toxins. I like to add the juice of one whole lemon to a 16 oz. glass of room temperature water.

By following the above advice with proper rest, sleep, nutrition, hydration, and so forth, you will have an advantage. To get stronger you must lift heavier, more efficiently (precise form and technique), be creative (think outside of the box, hence, you can train anywhere you do not have to be in an official gym), and have nutrition that works in your favor. Most understand the lifting heavy, the importance of proper form and technique, and being creative, but what most don't understand is how to eat so as to allow strength to build without becoming either an anorexic looking bodybuilder, or by putting on too much 'bulk', meaning mass period, fat and all. It's a fine line. First and foremost make sure you're intake of healthy proteins is up to par. Depending on your lifts, frequency, duration, and intensity, one might consume up to 1.5 grams protein per pound of body weight. Some up to two. The key is determining how hard you're working, consider your body type (ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph), and recovery periods. It's okay to push weight when you're still a bit sore, however, when you plan on lifting for strength and are going for max or near max reps, you must have recovered at least 87%, ideally 90-95% to get the most out of your next session. Besides protein, carbohydrates are a must, carb's of the right kind. Unprocessed, both high and low glycemic depending on pre or post workout, and a wide variety of colors. Be sure to prepare your vegetables so as to leave vital nutrients to nourish and build the cells. Fat is a must, but not immediately right after your workout. Only take in protein and carb's post-workout. Wait an hour and add your healthy fats, continue adding them sparingly to moderately throughout the day. 

First off, you'll become faster by simply eliminating unnecessary body fat. When you lose body fat, not to be confused with 'weight' which can also mean loss of vital muscle, and fluids, you instantly become stronger, you become more fuel efficient, and you'll find many times you'll sleep and think better. Determine the proper body weight for yourself, your build, body type, and lifestyle. Get to your target weight.

Watch people who are fast at what you want to be fast at, learn of them, and walk in their ways. In other words, if you want to run faster, find a fast runner and hit them up on tips, not just one fast runner, but a dozen, take notes, you'll learn something from every single one of them. Ditto cycling, swimming, rowing, climbing, you name it. Look up a couple of the historic greats and learn their ways as well. Time yourself, break down your distance into varying increments and record all your times, do speed drills, and again test yourself against your last times. Check to be sure your form, technique, gear, are working in your favor. Train against the wind, uphill, against the current, indoors when necessary but outdoors most of the time. Get a buddy system going, have a bit of friendly competition, and yes, all the above regarding rest, and nutrition apply to you, as well. You can't expect to make better times if you're out partying till wee hours, training with a hangover, or running on processed foods, it just isn't going to happen. 

Want the best? Train like the best. Learn from the best. Sleep and rest like the best. Eat like the best. Hydrate like the best know how to hydrate. The best of the best aren't out screwing around with their game, leaving it to chance and making up poor excuses when they fall short. They are studying hard, training hard, can write their own book on nutrition, and know how to both listen and be a leader at the same time. Were they born this way? Hell no. Do we all have a Champion within us? Hell yes. The line of distinction lies between knowing what to do and actually doing it. Not half way, but 100%. If it's that important to you, you'll do it.