The clock is always ticking for the athlete. There is only so much time you will have in your life to play your given sport before you eventually will stagnate and begin to lose ground. If you haven’t reached your peak yet or if you are just starting to fall off, you may be able to get instantly better by using one or all five of these simple tactics.
Go to bed 45 minutes earlier.
As a heavy lifting, hard training strongperson, your recovery is key to your long term success. Sleeping is one of the most important things you can do to allow your body to heal, and most people just do not get enough of it. Lack of sleep can increase the body’s output of cortisol, and that can hamper your gains. You also run the risk of getting sick more often when you shortchange yourself here, and that can lead to missed workouts.
All athletes should have a self imposed bedtime. If you get up at six, getting to bed by ten only gives you the opportunity for eight hours sleep. Most people don’t fall asleep right away and wake up during the night, cutting into the precious repair process. Begin a nightly ritual of shutting off the devices sooner, taking a few minutes to destress, and maybe even doing light meditation before bed.
Stop complaining about anything.
It is nothing short of a miracle that you are alive at all. You are even luckier to be born in this time period where life is safe and you aren’t being hunted by kings or lions. The fact that people find things to complain about on a daily basis is insane! By complaining, your brain becomes wired to think about the negative. It also is stressful when you complain and nothing comes of it. The last thing an athlete needs is to have unnecessary stress and a negative mindset.
Whether you are are training, at a contest or just talking about the sport, make more positive statements and try to find the best aspects of everything you are doing. Smile and be excited just to be there. Being in a negative mindset while doing something you love will soon affect your performance.
Have your blood work done.
World class athletes are under a microscope, and I don’t mean that just metaphorically. They are constantly having their fat levels tested, Vo2 max checked and their blood drawn. If you can get your doctor and insurance to cooperate, I would have your blood checked at least two times per year; once when you are peaking for a contest, and later when your training volume is lowered. By having a full blood work panel done, you will have a better understanding of your blood sugar levels, where your hormones are, and if your vitamin D levels are all within optimal ranges.
Read for 15 minutes a day.
Most of the sport’s top coaches and athletes have a book or blog for you to get your eyes on. Besides the numerous benefits of reading, you never know when you may come across that one piece of information that totally changes your game. Taking the time to learn makes you a smarter, more dangerous competitor.
Start a journal.
Many of you log sets and reps, and that is a great start; but to really get to know yourself, you should keep a daily journal. Put your thoughts, feelings, attitudes about your day (and session) down on paper. This process is a great way to review your goals and get to know yourself even better. I am a big fan of going at this the traditional way and using a blank paper book and pen, but don’t feel that you have to go that way. Many people keep a personal video journal on their phone and it works out great! Just make sure you have enough storage and you take the time to review your thoughts however you capture them.
To really be great takes more effort than just showing up and putting in work. By structuring your life around being successful as a strongperson you will see more improvements on the field. Don’t settle for less by not living your life in accordance with your goals. Get to work today for that big payoff tomorrow.
Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Images courtesy Michele Wozniak.