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7 Secrets To Increase Athletic Performance

7 Secrets To Increase Athletic Performance

It has been argued that modern day athletes are becoming faster, stronger and better every year. In one TED Talk, David Epstein compared Usain Bolt’s performance to Jesse Owens in 1936. Jesse Owens once had the world record for 100 meter dash, but if Jesse Owens competed at the same time as Usain Bolt, he would have been 14 feet behind Usain Bolt.

We are living in a time wherein we have accumulated a complex understanding of sports science, nutrition and supplementation. We have applied different approaches to give athletes an edge on their sports.

If you are an athlete, or plan to become one, you need to maximize your potential. What are the secrets to increasing athletic performance? Here are seven things that you need to implement.

1. Eating the right food at the right time

Food plays a crucial role in athletic performance. An athlete can’t afford to eat anything and expect the best results on their body. An athlete’s meal should be cleaner than the meal of an average Joe. Serious athletes can’t regularly eat junk food.

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This is why there are nutritionists specific for athletes. Nutritionists can create meals that are designed for different functions. Depending on the time when the food is consumed, it plays a different role. It can easily be a recovery meal, or a meal which will be used as fuel for performance.

One of the most basic things that athletes need to do is to have a healthy breakfast. A healthy breakfast can stop your body from catabolizing the muscles, and even jump start your metabolic rate. If you are not used to eating breakfast, you can always start eating a small meal first thing in the morning, then move up to a full and complete breakfast.

It is also important to choose the right meal before a workout. It should contain not only carbohydrates that can be used for fuel, but sufficient amounts of protein which could prevent catabolism during intense workouts.

2. Eat the right supplements at the right time

There are instances when you just can’t only rely on the food that you eat. There are times when you will need to consume supplements to provide your body with the necessary macronutrients, vitamins and minerals.

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The most basic supplement that you can have is vitamins. This way, you don’t have to eat so much food just to fill in the vitamin and mineral requirements of the body.

Whey protein is a popular pre- and post-workout supplement among athletes. Whey provides and replenishes protein in an athlete’s body, allowing faster recovery and muscle development. Together with whey are branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs are known to be anti-catabolic and are easily absorbed by the skeletal muscles.

There are also fat supplements, such as conjugated linoleic acids, used to increase metabolic rate and to prevent muscle catabolism. Some invest in stimulant-based pre-workouts in order to boost mental alertness. Of course, before you invest in supplements, you should be aware of the side effects. Supplements are only a secondary source of nutrients among athletes.

3. Focus on functional exercises

In order to hone athletic abilities, it is imperative to have the right workout for the right sport. In most situations, isolation exercises won’t get the job done. The usual regimen of bodybuilders won’t be beneficial for athletes. Body sculpting is the least of an athlete’s concern. In fact, there are athletes who don’t look muscular.

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Here is when functional exercises enter the picture. Functional routines aim to mimic the movements needed in an athlete’s usual activity. Its focus is not only to improve movements, but to augment possibilities of an injury.

Samples of functional exercises include goblet squats, deadlifts, Olympic lifts, split squats and variant isolation exercises that have been combined with each other. The reason why it is called functional exercise is because of the inclusion of different muscle groups.

4. Drills

Another important detail that athletes should take into consideration is the way they train. One of the best ways to improve athletic performance is by repeating the same movements over and over again. This helps improve the neuro-muscular reaction among athletes.

If you ever wondered how athletes react so fast to different scenarios, it is because of the specific drills that they have been doing over and over again. It helps them reduce the lag time in certain scenarios.

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5. Mix-up your workout every three weeks

Muscle memory is your body adapting to the stressful scenario that it encounters. For athletes, workouts, drills and regimens are considered stress. Muscle memory explains how you master certain movements when done repeatedly. Unfortunately, sticking to the same workout over and over again may not give you the best results.

Muscle confusion can produce significant results to an athlete. Changing your workout every three weeks can help the body get the most results, especially when you feel that you are already used to performing the different routines and drills.

6. Log your performance and improvement

Athletes need to have an idea how much they’ve accomplished. Did you become a bit faster? Did you become stronger? Keep track of your performance, how much you’ve improved, and what you still need to work on. This gives you a concrete idea on how much work still needs to be done. This can also give you an idea of the things that you can improve on.

7. Include conditioning in your routine

Athletes take their time to improve and refine their techniques. For example, basketball players perform shooting practices for hours, while soccer players are doing the same kick over and over. Instead of simply focusing on technique, it is also a good idea for athletes to focus on conditioning.

By incorporating conditioning exercises during these routines, you train the body to nail the activity even when you are already tired.

If you wish to improve your performance as an athlete, it isn’t enough that you are just dedicated to your craft. It is equally important to work smart on how you approach training, nutrition and even rest. With what we have today, it is possible to you maximize your athletic ability to the fullest.

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Last Updated on October 13, 2020

How to Spot a Burnout And Overcome It Fast

How to Spot a Burnout And Overcome It Fast

Burnout at work is an issue that most people who suffer from it, suffer unknowingly.

Have you ever felt that you can’t start an assignment, have an immense urge to Netflix binge, or couldn’t get yourself to wake up on time even though you have a lot on your plate? The cause for these might be burnout.

According to Deloitte’s report, “many companies may not be doing enough to minimize burnout.” This is to say that the responsibility is not only on the employee. According to that report, nearly 70 percent of professionals feel their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization, and they definitely should.[1]

Too many companies don’t invest enough in creating a positive environment. One out of five (21%) said that their company does not offer any programs or initiatives to prevent or alleviate burnout. It is the culture, not the fancy well-being programs that would probably do the best work.

This is a significant problem for individuals and companies, and it’s also an issue on a macro level. A Stanford University research found that more than 120,000 deaths per year, and approximately 5%–8% of annual healthcare costs, are associated with the way U.S. companies manage their workforces.[2]

It is both the employee and the employer’s responsibility—and the latter can certainly take more responsibility.

In this article, I’ll guide you on how to know if you suffer from burnout and, more importantly, what you can do about it.

Who Are Prone to Burning Out?

For starters, it is a good thing to know that you’re in good company. According to a Gallup poll, 23% (of 7,500 surveyed) expressed burnout more often than not. Additionally, 44% felt it sometimes. Nearly 50% of social entrepreneurs who attended the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in 2018 reported having struggled with burnout and depression at some point.[3]

According to Statista (2017), 13% of adults reported having problems unwinding in the evenings and weekends. According to a Deloitte survey (consisting of 1,000 full-time U.S. employees), 77% of respondents said that they have experienced employee burnout at their current job.[4]

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Burnout is not only an issue of the spoiled first-world. Rather, it is a serious matter that must be taken care of appropriately. It affects so many people, and its impacts are just too significant to be ignored.

Some occupations are more prone to burnout, such as people who deeply care about their jobs more than others. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Passion-driven and caregiving roles such as doctors and nurses are some of the most susceptible to burnout.”

The consequences can have life or death ramifications as “suicide rates among caregivers are dramatically higher than that of the general public—40% higher for men and 130% higher for women”. It is also the case for teachers, non-profit workers, and leaders of all kinds.[5]

Deloitte’s survey also found that 91% say that they have an unmanageable amount of stress or frustration. Heck, 83% even say that it can negatively impact their relationships. Millennials are slightly more impacted by burnout (84% of Gen Y vs. 77% in other generations).

What Is Burnout Syndrome?

So, what is it, exactly? Burnout was officially included in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) and is an occupational phenomenon.

According to the World Health Organization, burnout includes three dimensions:[6]

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  2. Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job;
  3. Reduced professional efficacy.

The 5 Stages of Burnout

At this point, you must have a clue if you’re at risk of burnout. There are different methods for understanding where you are on the burnout syndrome scale, and one of the most common ones is the “five stages method.”

1. Honeymoon Phase

As you may remember If you’ve gotten married, there’s always the honeymoon phase. You’re so happy and feel almost invincible. You love your spouse and at this stage, you’re very excited about everything. It’s the same when it comes to taking on a new job or role or starting a new business.

At first, most of the time, you’re hyper-motivated. Although you might be able to notice signs of potential future burnout, in most cases, you might ignore them. You’re highly productive, super motivated, creative, and accept (and take) responsibility.

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The honeymoon phase is critical because if you plant the seeds of good mental health and coping strategies, you can stay at this phase for extended periods.

2. Onset of Stress

Let’s continue with the wedding metaphor. Now that you’re happily married for some time, you might start noticing certain issues with your spouse that you don’t like. You might have seen them before, but now they take up more space in your life.

You might be less optimistic and feel signs of stress or minor symptoms of physical or emotional fatigue at work. Your productivity reduces, and you think that your motivation is lower.

3. Chronic Stress

Let’s hope you don’t get there in your marriage, but unfortunately, some people get there. At this stage, your stress level is consistently high, and the other symptoms of stage 2 persist.

At this point, you start missing deadlines, your sleep quality is low, and you’re resentful and cynical. Your caffeine consumption might be higher, and you’re increasingly unsatisfied.

4. Burnout

This is the point where you can’t go on unless there is a significant change in your workspace environment. You have a strong desire to move to another place, and clinical intervention is sometimes required.

You feel neglected, your physical symptoms are increasing, and you get to a place where your stomach hurts daily. You might obsess over problems in your life or work and, generally speaking, you should treat yourself.

5. Habitual Burnout

This is the phase in which burnout is embedded in your life. You might experience chest pains or difficulty breathing, outbursts of anger or apathy, and physical symptoms of chronic fatigue.

The Causes of Burnout

So, now that we know how to identify our stage of burnout, we can move on to tackling its leading causes. According to the Gallup survey, the top burnout reasons are:[7]

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  1. Getting unfair treatment at work – This is not always something that you can fully control. At the same time, you should remember that even if you’re not calling the shots, it doesn’t mean that you have to accept unfair treatment. The consequences mentioned above are just not worth it in most cases.
  2. Workload – Another leading cause of stress according to dozens of interviews conducted before writing the article. According to Statista, in 2017, 39% of workers said a heavy workload was their leading cause of stress. We live in a busy work environment, and we will share some tips on how to manage that.
  3. Not knowing your role – While not something you can fully control, you can, and probably should, take action to better define it with your boss.
  4. Inadequate communication and support from your manager – Like the others above, you can’t fully control that, but as we’ll soon share, you can take action to be in better control.
  5. Time pressure – As mentioned, motivated, passionate workers are more in danger of experiencing burnout. One of the reasons is that they’re pressuring themselves to do more, sometimes at the expense of their mental health. We’ll address how to work on that as well.

How to Overcome a Burnout

After going over the stages of burnout and the leading causes of becoming burned out, it might be a good time to let you know that there is a lot you can do to fight it head-on.

However, let’s start with what you should not do. Burnout cannot be fixed by going on a vacation. It should be a long-term solution, implemented daily.

According to Clockify (2019), these are the popular ways to avoid burnout:

  1. Focus on your family life – 60% of adults said that stable family life is key to avoiding burnout. Maintaining meaningful relationships in your life is proven to reduce stress (instead of having many unmeaningful relationships).
  2. Exercising comes in second, with 58% reporting that jogging, running, or doing any exercise significantly relieves stress. Even a relatively short walk might improve your body’s resilience to stress.
  3. Seek professional advice – 55% say they would turn to a professional. There are online websites where you can speak with professionals at reduced costs.

Aside from the three most popular ways of avoiding burnout, you can also try the following:

1. Improve Time Management

Try understanding how you can use your time better and leave more time for relaxation. That’s easy to say (or write) but more challenging to implement. It would help if you started by prioritizing yourself. Understanding the connection between your values and your everyday tasks is a tremendous help. You can use proven methods to improve the relationship between your vision and goals to your daily life tasks’ lists. Check out the Horizons of Focus or V2MOM methods to get started.

2. Use the P.L.E.A.S.E. Method

The P.L.E.A.S.E. is a combination of things you should do to be at your best physically. It means Physical Illness (P.L.) prevention, Eat healthy (E), Avoid mood-altering drugs (A), Sleep well (S), and Exercise (E).

3. Prioritize

You don’t have to say yes to everything that comes across your way at work (or in other aspects of life). You’d be surprised how easy it can become once you start saying no. Some might even describe it as exhilarating.

4. Let Your Brain rest

Culturally, most of us are already wired to think that hard work is essential, and while that’s true in most cases, we sometimes forget that our brain needs to rest for it to recharge. Seven hours of sleep are essential (depending on your age). Meditation might be helpful, too.

5. Pay Attention to Positive Events

According to Therapistaid.com, we tend to focus on the bad things in our lives. However, by focusing on positive things, we can change our mindset. One way to practice this daily is by writing three good things about your life every morning or evening. It’s been scientifically proven that doing so for a few months can help rewire your brain.

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6. Take Some “You” Time

A Netflix binge is not always good for you, but it might be in some cases. The better the leisure time is, the better you’ll feel in the long term. It’s usually better to read a book or start a new hobby that requires more cognitive skills than just lying on the couch. But as long as you feel good watching a movie, that might be a good start.

7. New Technologies Might Be Helpful

There are tons of self-help apps such as Fabulous, Headspace (meditation), Noom (diet and exercise), and others. They’re good to use, but you should also be careful not to run away from your problems only to watch social media for hours. It’s not real, and no one’s life is perfect (even if their Facebook or Instagram feeds might seem so). You should also be aware not to be in an “always-on” mindset.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re at the first or the fifth stage of the burnout phases, the goal of this article is to show you that there are always ways to fight it. The first thing is self-awareness—knowing that there’s a problem. The second step is to decide what to do about it.

You can also consider using Lifehack’s community. You’re more than welcome to share your burnout story on our Facebook page.

Bonus: Rebound from Burnout in 8 Hours

Watch what you can do to rebound from burnout quickly in this episode of The Lifehack Show:

https://youtu.be/MNnyqQWK_zg

Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

Reference

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