6 Steps to Improve your Performance

Motivation

Motivation is the first key point when preparing for your next big race/game/event. What’s your purpose and what outcome do you want?

It’s important to set up your Annual Training Plan (“ATP”) but I also recommend setting specific goals that you want to achieve and a time frame by which you want to reach your goals.

Think about how you’d feel if you achieved this…it’s an awesome feeling isn’t it? Now, think of 5 points that will help you succeed with your main goal. Once you have these ideas, it’s time to write them down on paper.

If you’re still not sure, here is an example:

“I want to qualify for a World Series Event next year”

  1. I will wake up at 6am every day
  2. I must follow my nutrition plan 100%
  3. I must be in bed by 10pm every night
  4. I will not make excuses and tell myself it’s ok…I deserve it
  5. I must drink 2-3 litres of good quality water each day

Once you have documented your agreement to yourself, sign it and pin it up somewhere where you can see it every day. Start to visualise what you want. What you think, you create!

Breathing

Breathing is the key to optimising your health for so many different reasons. Firstly, you need to know how to breathe correctly. 90% of athletes I see on a daily basis are breathing incorrectly, through the chest and not using their diaphragm. This leads to postural imbalances, decreased food digestion, poor quality sleep, decreased energy levels and VO2 Max. To reverse this, you need to re-train your body to breathe efficiently through the diaphragm.

This is best practiced in mornings before getting out of bed and at night just before bed when lying down. All you need is 3 minutes at a time:

  1. Place one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest.
  2. Breathe in through the nose while pushing your stomach out like a big full belly (do not let the chest rise here)
  3. Exhale. Let your belly button sink into your spine.

Do this regularly and it will become your body’s new pattern for breathing. You will feel the difference in your general feeling of well-being and your performances.

Hydration

Hydration is crucial for so many reasons. Dehydration leads to fatigue, excessive hunger/weight gain, burn out easier but more frequently PAIN which often leads to injuries.

When you are dehydrated, you seem to be hungrier. Well, guess what? It’s not food you’re craving, it’s water. Drinking 2-3 litres of water per day is best, and it needs to be high quality high mineral/alkaline water. I recommend drinking PH8 as it’s one of the best quality waters with the right amount of minerals in it.

Sleep

Sleeping less than 8 hours/night and catching up on sleep on the weekend is not going to cut it if you’re looking at quality training sessions! It is absolutely crucial that you are sleeping 10pm to 6am to align your circadian rhythm and get the physical and mental repair you need to recover from training, work, stress, life etc.

Not getting sleep between your circadian rhythm times (physical repair 10pm-2am, mental/emotional repair 2am-6am) can disrupt your cortisol and melatonin levels which will lead to sugar cravings, increased eating and excessive fat storage. The reality of fitting in life with training means that many athletes (especially those on the Iron man circuit) are up at 4:30am to hit their 120km before arriving at work by 8:30am. This is OK short term (12 weeks) provided you’re in bed before 10pm but is definitely not recommended long term as it will lead to overloaded mental/emotional stress.

Nutrition

Nutrition is a big can of worms for everyone these days. Everyone has some new diet plan, claiming to get the best results possible. But is it really for you? Don’t be sucked into the next fad and amazing nutrition plan.

First of all, keep a food diary for 10 days to see how much crap you are actually eating. From there, eliminate any takeaway, junk foods, sugar snacks, processed foods, and replace it with real organic whole foods. Eat 3 meals a day and be aware of what’s happening to your body when you eat. Are you full, bloated, cramped, sluggish, tired or still hungry? Note all of this information down. Start to fine-tune YOUR diet for what makes you feel the BEST.

Training

The foundation to any training session no matter what sport you are in, is to have a healthy functioning vehicle (your body) with good posture and mobility to optimise your athletic performance and reduce the risk of injuries during high training loads.

Most coaches/athletes I see know why training in the gym is important but generally don’t have an eye for correct technique. This is a big problem because instead of strengthening weak muscles or muscles that you are trying to target, the athlete starts to work hyper tonic over-worked muscles which then leads to more postural imbalances and higher risk of injury.

What we need to do is take a step back from the heavy loads on the body and really start to stretch, mobilise, correct and activate before returning to a lighter weight than usual to install new motor patterns and perfecting our new technique.

I recommend getting a solid 4-inch roller which will have enormous impact in releasing myofascial tissue and mobilising vertebras:

  • Thoracic extension
  • FB Hamstrings
  • Quads on roller
  • Lumbar extension
  • Lower abdominal coordination

You can watch video demonstrations of each exercise: visit aaronbuchan.com/videos

Fit Lab, Aaron Buchan, Personal Trainer

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