We all want to be better at what we do. But whether it’s a perfect, healthy body, sports performance or some other activity, you have to ask yourself a question how good are you at actually trying to achieve that?
Being bombarded with exercise gadgets and supplements we often reach for novelties expecting to find a magic solution to our success. Yet, we forget about simple but so important basic tactics that should always come before any performance-enhancing substance or a new piece of equipment. Here are 10 simple tips on how to improve your physique, performance and make your body healthier.
1# STRETCH MORE
I can’t stress enough the importance of flexibility and how much it can benefit your activity. If you are into gymnastics kind of training you probably don’t have to be reminded of it. Yet, so many other athletes tend to neglect this insanely easy tactic and forget how much it can benefit their performance and health. Weightlifters, Wrestlers, BJJ Practitioners, Runners, Recreational Fitness Junkies…We all need it more than we think.
Apart from specific performance benefits and lesser risk of injury, you will also get a better night’s sleep and drop the stress levels that keep you up late. You will wake up feeling less tight and having more energy.
Depending on the sport you are involved in, I’d recommend at least 2-3 dedicated flexibility sessions a week.
2# DO MORE WALKING
You probably think, No thx, I go to the gym 5 days a week. What will walking do for me? But just because you do 5 training sessions a week, it does not mean you should get into your car everytime you go to a shop or a gym, especially if it is only 10-20 minutes walking distance away from you.
Trust me, getting on the treadmill or doing specific warm-up right before your workout is not replacing your walking. Think about walking as the warm-up before warm-up. Regular outdoor walks in its very unique way boost your circulation, wake your body up and get it ready for whatever activity you do. It will also add to your weight loss, muscle tone, muscle strength and endurance, and cardiovascular health.
Walking is also a great therapy that helps oxygenate the brain giving it more clarity. So if you can walk, walk More.
Very few things are as powerful as meditation in keeping a creative, stress-free and focused mindset. Mental health is one of the most important factors contributing to a successful performance of the athlete. If you can’t control and manage your thoughts you will have a trouble succeeding not only in a professional sport. Creating a buffer from anxiety and stress will make you less worried and it will improve other aspects of your everyday life as well.
Don’t try to force it, it won’t happen. If you don’t know how to do it then join the club or get a meditation teacher. You will learn how to control and manage your mind by separating the noise from the useful.
Don’t find excuses. Find the time.
Getting the right amount of sleep will help you improve your physique, performance, memory, it will naturally increase growth hormone and recovery, and can potentially help you live longer. How much sleep do you need is difficult to say because, like many other things, it will depend on individual differences in metabolism or activity levels.
Six to eight hours of sleep per night is usually enough for optimum performance for an average daily living. Athletes will have special requirements and often will need additional napping sessions during the day. High intensity, high volume training will require from you more sleep or else you will be going into training sessions in sleep debt, and eventually, you will hinder your progress.
So, instead of emptying your pockets for a bunch of supplements which many aren’t even proven yet, just make your sleep a priority in your daily training. You’ll get bonus points for going to bed and getting out of it at the same time each night and day.
By incorporating adequate sleep into their routine, tennis players get a 42% boost in hitting accuracy
Sleep improves split-second decision-making ability by 4.3%
After 4 days of restricted sleep, athletes maximum bench press drops 20lbs
5# LAUGH MORE
Unlike in our childhood, adults life tends to be more serious and makes laughter less frequent. It’s well proven that laughter is a strong medicine that triggers healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. It strengthens your immune system, boosts your mood and motivation, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. A good laugh session, can also be great for your abs 🙂
Find something or someone that makes you laugh and laugh.
6# DRINK MORE WATER – LOTS MORE THAN YOU THINK
Another simple tactic, yet so often ignored. All you need is a loss of fluid equal to 2% of your body mass to cause a decrease in performance. That’s about a 1.4 kg loss in an athlete who weighs 70 kg. Losses in excess of 5% of body weight will decrease your capacity for work by about 30%. With higher intensity sports things are getting even worse. It’s crazy when I think how easily I used to lose 3-4 kg in one wrestling session not paying attention to regular hydration.
Apart from this water clears out toxins, it helps metabolize fat making you leaner at the same time, and contrary to popular belief, drinking more water can actually help you remove excess water weight. When you don’t drink enough, the body starts thinking there’s a shortage and it begins to retain it.
7# EAT MORE VEGIES – MUCH MORE THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE
Do I need to write an essay on this? I don’t. You heard it million times. Eat greens as well as the other colours.
8# CUT THE SUGAR OUT
As much as Sugar is an important part of energy source in our lives and eating right sugar at the right time (before or after training) and in the right amounts will facilitate our performance, most of us need to cut most of it out from our diets.
And not only for the sake of our teeth health. This sweet poison is simply a drug that creates a havoc in your body. Apart from the rise in blood sugar, followed by a sudden drop which results in low energy levels, excess sugar does create a host of other issues from obesity and diabetes to digestive problems and arthritis.
With the evidence on both sides of the argument, the research proving that sugar feeds cancer can be debatable, but what else do you need to know to make you realize that this sweet poison is bad for you.
Put it this way. Fruit, red potato, whole grains and many other natural foods are good for you and won’t kill you as much as you don’t overdo it. But things like doughnuts, lemonades, sweets, white sugar, white bread etc. Forget it. Regardless of how it fits your macronutrients intake, you will not be performing at your best and you probably won’t be living at your longest.
9# COOK FOR YOURSELF
Apart from saving some money, when you cook on your own, you know what you eat. The problem with eating out is that no matter how clean you think you’re eating, you never know what’s in your food. I used to work in a gastronomic business for a while and let me tell you something… Unless it’s one of those places when I can see the cook preparing the food for me, I don’t eat out. And I’m not only talking about how much oil is going to your healthy chicken salad. Take a control of your diet and start cooking.
10# STOP GIVING A SHIT
If you surround yourself with negative people and you worry about what others think, you have a problem. It’s not rare when a promising athlete fails because he or she can not cope with emotions. Negativity is part of our life, and we all are vulnerable to it. Would-be friends, boss at work, worrying about your image, or even the closest family that constantly reproaches you for doing something you love. It can be hard when people who are really close to you, can’t be happy because you don’t follow the path that they would expect.
But, you have to stop giving a shit. If you are stressed when your mom or girlfriend constantly does your head in cos’ they don’t see the future in what you mostly spend your time on, then you are probably not going to get very far. Yes, moms are great and protective, and they often would like to see you have one of those eight to five jobs that define success in their eyes, but it’s your life, not your mom’s.
Negative emotions will hurt your performance both physically and mentally. It will sap your energy, make you frustrated and angry, leading to muscle tension, breathing difficulties, and a loss of coordination. You will simply lose your prime intensity and no longer have the physical capabilities to perform well. Negative emotions will also affect your judgment and focus making you prone to making senseless mistakes and bad calls.
Remember, it’s your life, not somebody else’s.