Stamina; Speed; Strength; Skill; Spirit.
As you read through the 5 words above, you have probably already decided which is the most important to you in your own personal training. It is important for us not to become too narrow in our focus for success in Sport and to understand that while one of these S’s may feature more predominantly in our own personal regimes, all of them combined equate to a healthy individual.
Whether we are talking about aerobic endurance, muscular endurance or mental endurance, stamina is a component which is required for all sports.
To physically improve stamina, it is best to start off with the basics. Set a realistic initial goal and monitor your heart rate during training. Building stamina can be physically and mentally exhausting but by monitoring your progression, you can enjoy your improved fitness and begin to set bigger goals for yourself. If running isn’t your idea of fun, don’t force yourself into it because the likelihood is, you will get fed up. Instead choose something more fitting for your sport or personality like swimming, rowing, dancing or cycling.
Proper nutrition is often overlooked as a way to reach your peak sports potential, but it can be the difference between hitting the wall and powering through. Nutrition alone may not win you medals, but poor nutrition is one way to reduce your potential before you even get started. Avoid simple sugars as they cause peaks and crashes. Complex carbohydrates are ideal for prolonged energy during a long workout and absorb at approximately three times the rate of simple sugars.
While physical fitness and diet can help improve stamina, you may also see significant results from the use of certain supplements.
Gaspari Nutrition Superpump MAX is a pre-workout supplement geared towards increasing endurance capacity and comes in six fruity flavours. You could also try Science In Sport GO Electrolyte Sports Fuel as a pre-workout drink or recovery aid. This supplement restores hydration, electrolytes and prevents muscle cramp.
Each time you practice moving or accelerating faster, it helps to condition the neuromuscular system to improve the firing patterns of fast twitch muscle fibres.
There are four main components of speed:
- Starting Speed (The First Step) - The ability of an athlete to go from a non-moving state to a moving state. Starting speed is a crucial component and can determine whether a race is won or lost.
- Acceleration - The ability of an athlete to reach maximal speed in the shortest amount of time, under control. By improving the stride length and stride frequency, you can improve acceleration speed.
- Speed Efficiency - Range of motion + deliberateness of the movement.
- Speed Endurance – The ability to maintain top levels of speed during performance.
Creatine phosphate levels will determine speed over a 2-3 second period, therefore maintaining high levels of this in the muscles is of vital importance. The average person (with an omnivorous diet) ingests 1g of creatine per day from meat and fish, therefore supplementation is a great way to increase the level of creatine available in the muscle.
Optimum Health Ultimate Creatine helps to enhance protein synthesis. It can also be of benefit in recovery after exercise and to reduce the effects of lactic acid.
Building strength is a simple way to improve your performance in nearly any sport. In order to increase strength, calories are important but it shouldn't come from poor quality food. There is a reason they call it ‘junk’.
The diet required to build strength consists of wholesome healthy foods. Fish, lean meats and egg whites are great for protein. Combine this with whole grain brown rice or quinoa and lots of fruit and vegetables. Get your daily fat intake from healthy sources such as avocados, nuts and olive oil.
Learning the right way to exercise is essential to getting results. Form does matter, especially when completing strength training exercises. Incorrect form also sets you up for potential injuries, pain and soreness.
To optimise results try a whey protein supplement. Whey has an excellent nutrient makeup, including all of the essential amino acids. It is particularly high in branched-chain amino acids which are key for muscle protein synthesis. Another excellent supplement for strength building is Optimum Health Ultimate ZMA. It contains zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 and is ideal for those looking to increase muscle strength and improve recovery.
The more you train the more mechanically efficient you will become. All sports require specific skills. Time and commitment are what you need to hone these skills so they become automatic. This is vital to sporting success as nothing will lower performance more rapidly than over-analysing your actions during competition or training.
Persistance, resilience and running drills weekly will help to avoid an increase in anxiety and lapses in concentration. In order to maximise these training sessions, foods high in omega oils and B vitamins can help. They are great support for the central nervous system and can help you feel happier, more focused and enhance muscle memory.
To aid your skill training, try Optimum Health Omega Oil Blend which provides essential fatty acids vital for peak physical and cognitive health. You can also support your workouts with an effective multi-vitamin product such as MET Rx Xtreme Multi Vitamins.
The mind is as much of a part of excelling in a sport as the body. Many elite athletes rely on sports psychology techniques to gain a mental advantage over their competitors.To fulfil your potential in sports it is critical to stay focused and avoid distractions. It is important to stay in the moment and concentrate on the task in hand.
Finding motivation to train or stick with exercise on a regular basis isn't always easy either. Not many of us have the time to implement the training regime we would like to and can find ourselves feeling burnt out from the pressure of cramming work, family life and training into each day.
Many people turn to products high in caffeine to help stimulate the nervous system and increase mental alertness. If this is a route you wish to explore, try Optimum Health Ultimate Caffeine Tablets designed to maximise energy levels and enhance focus.
If you can incorporate each of these sections into your training regime, you will be mentally and physically prepared for any competition you face whether it is in your chosen sport or in the gym.
"If you train hard, you'll not only be hard, you'll be hard to beat."
- Herschel Walker
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American College of Sports Medicine. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Kraemer WJ, Adams K, et al, 2002 Feb;34(2):364-80.
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition; Examination of a pre-exercise, high energy supplement on exercise performance; Hoffman JR et al; January 2009.
Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology. Robert Stephen Weinberg, Daniel Gould, 4th Edition. 2007.
If you have any medical conditions please consult your doctor before taking any supplements.