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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 August 13, 2020

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

2. What is the purpose of meditation?

The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

Less Physical, More Psychological

Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

The First Benefit of Meditation

The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

  1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
  2. Relaxation of the body

Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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This benefit takes you to the second one.

The Second Benefit of Meditation

While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

  1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
  2. Observance
  3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
  4. Patience

Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

1. Energy

Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

2. Observance

The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

3. Peacefulness

Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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4. Patience

The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

  • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
  • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
  • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
  • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
  • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
  • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

Final Thoughts

Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

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Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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