Habits of Highly Effective Athletes
We may never dash like Usain Bolt, volley as if we are Serena Williams, slice through the swimming pool just like Michael Phelps, but we can sure train like these highly effective athletes.
"If we took a couple of pages from a star athlete's training book, imagine what we would find: We'd find a story of hard work, dedication and smart decisions -- attributes that all of us can apply in our workouts every day," Brent Holten says.
Strike a balance
You can't drive your car forever without tuning it up. You can't run your computer night and day without rebooting it. Your body is a machine that needs maintenance as well. Getting plenty of sleep after a tough workout ensures that you'll have the energy and vigor to attack the workout tomorrow. And your mind needs a break as well. Studies show that even five minutes of meditation or mindfulness a day improves athletic performance and focus.
Revolve all other habits around your intended goals
Athletes revolve everything they do around being a better athlete. Diet should focus on foods that improve training and performance. Sleep is crucial for the body's recovery. Alcohol and sweets are kept in strict moderation. Just like a superstar athlete, you should always look at the consequences of your actions. Before you decide to stay up late on a Friday night, determine if this will prevent you from getting to the gym in time for your favorite group-fitness class on Saturday morning. And before you bite into that chocolate dessert, consider whether it will help or hinder your fitness goals.
Pour every ounce of effort into training
An athlete doesn't just work out, they don't just go through the motions -- and neither should you! This means maintaining a sharp focus on your workout. If you can chat with the person next to you during a Spinning class, if you are texting your pals while jogging on a treadmill, if you daydream during Buff Yoga or if you lackadaisically page through a magazine while on an elliptical, ask yourself if you are really working out as hard as you can. If you put everything you have into your workout -- even if it's just for 30 minutes a day -- you might be surprised by the results you achieve.
Feed the machine
If you regularly spend time with top-performing athletes, you'll notice that they are always eating, and they carry their food with them wherever they go. Controlling when and what they eat is critical! Most athletes have at least six small meals a day to keep their bodies functioning optimally for performance. In addition to the number of meals athletes take in, we also should pay attention to what they eat -- chicken, nuts, fruit and other nourishing foods that provide fuel for their workouts. Also what they don't eat -- empty calories, preservatives and artificial ingredients.
An athlete who is at the top of her game keeps a record of her training performance, competitive performance, fluctuations in weight or strength, and so on. By keeping a diary of your workouts, you can track your progress: Are you running longer? Did you lose weight? Is your bicep a little thicker? By tracking your workouts -- and their results -- you can pinpoint the moment of you achieved a breakthrough so that you can repeat those steps as you strive for your next goal.
Sure, an Olympic swimmer spends most of his training time in a pool. But that's not the only way he works out: He most likely lifts weights, practices yoga and cross trains with other sports. Just like this star swimmer, you shouldn't just stick to one way of working out. By blending together strength training, cardio training and yoga -- whether on your own or in a group-fitness class -- you can develop a well-rounded fitness regimen that touches every part of your body.