Being a professional athlete is no joke. While most people leave the office at 5 P.M., athletes need to constantly monitor their nutrition, sleep, and attitude in order to ensure that they stay in prime physical condition – and that’s not even counting the workouts! When professionals hit the gym, pool, track, field, and court, they bring a level of intensity that puts them ahead of their peers – if they didn’t, they’d be unemployed! But just what are the biggest differences between the Pros and the rest of us? Here are a few factors that can make or break a training session, and a career.
Every Day is Game Day
Professional athletes of all kinds, from football stars to long-distance swimmers, athletes treat every practice like a game. Of course, this doesn’t mean matching game-day intensity if you’re fatigued – getting rest is important. What it does mean is that every moment of every practice deserves an athlete’s full attention. Studies have shown that humans are creatures of habit, and that the mental and physical habits that we build while practicing have a direct correspondence to achievement on game day.
Integrate Strength Training into Your Workout
Too many athletes fail to develop a well-rounded strength training routine. Not the pros. Professional athletes will tell you that strength training is the key to improving performance and reducing injury. Why? Because only through strength training can you target specific muscle groups and enlist their aid in executing proper form. It doesn’t matter if you play tennis, basketball, or lacrosse – strength training can make or break your season. Maria Sharapova and Melvin Upton, although they play very different sports, both credit strength training with helping them build power and stamina for long seasons.
Professional athletes are enthusiastic, yes, but they’re also smart. There’s nothing worse than to put all of your energy into a workout, only to find that it didn’t improve your performance – or worse, that it caused an injury. Yet so many athletes along the entire spectrum, from the high-school to the professional level, end up hurting their chances of success by training poorly. Successful pros know that they need a well-rounded training regimen to build skill, strength, and stamina, and to prevent injuries. Sometimes, that means taking an off day or reducing the physical intensity of a workout to allow for recovery.
Practice Compound Movements
This one may sound funny, but it’s pretty obvious: professional athletes practice the types of motion that they use in their sport. Unfortunately, many strength training regimens rely on unrealistic, static movements that isolate only a single muscle group. This is ineffective and dangerous. Since your body is made to move and grow as a unified mass, repetitive exercises targeting one muscle, rather than the muscle groups that we rely on to walk, jump, run, and throw, can easily result in an imbalance that renders any gain useless or destructive. The goal of a smart strength training regimen is to improve real-world performance, not add on weight at a gym. Professional athletes know this and always try to move as realistically as possible when they train.
Many professionals rely on training tools to take their workouts to the next level. One such tool is the Vertimax. Used by 40% of professional sports teams in the U.S., the Vertimax allows athletes and their trainers to add resistance to authentic movements in order to build strength while reinforcing good form. This combination is an essential part of any training regimen. It means that athletes don’t simply build isolated muscles, but instead, they practice the exact same motions that they rely on when it’s game day.