Beginner athletes often struggle with under-fueling their workouts, particularly when taking on a new endurance endeavor like a triathlon or a half marathon. A common misconception of beginner athletes is that they have to be "competitive" or "elite" to need to replenish their body like experienced athletes. Also, beginners often have weight loss goals, leading them to reduce calories before, during or after workouts, which does not promote weight loss or enjoyment in exercise. As a result of not getting enough of the right nutrients at the right time, beginners fatigue early during exercise, both mentally and physically.
These are the top tips for beginner athletes who want to feel great during exercise to reach their performance and body composition goals.
Don't Exercise on an Empty Stomach
Put some gas in your tank before starting your workout. Carbohydrate is the preferred fuel for exercise, so 30 to 60 minutes before exercise eat something that is easily digested and carbohydrate-rich. Great pre-workout snacks are:
Before workouts lasting 90 minutes or more, a more substantial pre-workout meal is appropriate to help your stomach feel satisfied throughout the exercise session. A balanced meal before a workout could be:
Pay Attention to the Toilet
As the temperature climbs and you spend more and more time sweating, your risk for dehydration will increase. Even slight dehydration makes exercise harder than it has to be. The best indicator of hydration is your urine color. Urine should be a pale yellow color without a strong odor. The goals are to start exercise with pale colored urine and to produce pale urine within an hour of finishing your workout.
If you are noticing dark-colored urine following workouts, you need to drink more throughout your workout. However, if your urine is clear or if you have to stop repeatedly to use the restroom during exercise, you are drinking more fluids than you need and you can back off on your intake.
Don't Run on Fumes
You should expect to be fatigued at the end of your longest run ever or the hardest bike ride you've ever done. But you shouldn't feel like your body has been completely depleted and you have no more gas in your tank.
When you are exercising longer than 60 to 90 minutes, you will need to replenish carbohydrates that are being burned during exercise in order to keep your engine running. There is a limited supply of carbohydrates stored in your body, and once they are gone, you are done. You will feel mentally and physically tapped out. It's not an enjoyable experience, and it is does not motivate you to wake up the next day and hit the pavement again.
You will need about 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour of exercise. Experiment with different combinations of foods and sports products to reach this goal. During exercise mix-and-match these 30-gram carbohydrate options:
Salt May Be What the Doctor Ordered
If you finish your workout with white crust on your visor, your clothing or on your skin, you are likely a salty sweater. The longer you exercise, the more salt you will lose in your sweat, so you'll need to consume extra salt (sodium) during exercise.
If you are exercising long enough to need to replenish carbohydrates, you will also need to replenish sodium. Pretzels and sports products provide sodium; to ensure that you are getting adequate sodium during your workout, stay on the lookout for any of the following signs of hyponatremia (low blood sodium) during and after your long workouts.
If you experience these symptoms, increase your sodium intake during exercise by choosing higher sodium sports products or by adding an electrolyte replacement to your water or sports drink. The symptoms of hyponatremia are very similar to symptoms of dehydration, so consider your symptoms in relation to your consumption of fluids and urine color. If your urine is clear and you have a headache, it's likely that a salty snack will help and more water will make the headache worse.
Respect Your Body After Exercise
Your body just did something amazing. You just reached a new exercise peak! Honor your body following exercise by having a nourishing, balanced meal within an hour of finishing exercise and drink plenty of fluids.
After exercise and especially after a race, your body is working hard to rehydrate, to store carbohydrates for tomorrow's workout, to repair fatigued muscles and to reduce inflammation to promote optimal recovery from exercise. Focus on unprocessed and colorful foods to make a balanced recovery meal:
IMAGE & ARTICLE SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1LpEnTC
Research released at the beginning of the year by Cancer Research UK showed that of those who made a new year’s resolution, almost a fifth planned to cut back on alcohol. But despite these good intentions, the mid-January to February slump showed that will power was hard to sustain. For exercisers though, they need to think twice about reaching for an ice cold beer after a game or turning to a glass of wine after the gym. Alcohol in your system is detrimental to physical activity. Here’s how it can wreak havoc with performance and recovery.
How is alcohol processed by the body?
Alcohol rapidly enters into the bloodstream after absorption in the stomach and small intestine. Increased levels of alcohol in the blood are followed by a rise in alcohol oxidation (breakdown) and removal from the body. Approximately 90% of alcohol is oxidised in the liver. An enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase converts alcohol into acetaldehyde, which is then converted into acetic acid by aldehyde dehydrogenase. Alcohol is also excreted from the kidneys in urine (5%) or exhaled from the lungs (5%).
On average it takes the body 1 hour to remove 1 unit of alcohol from the body, however this process is highly individual and affected by many factors, such as bodyweight, gender, age, intake of medication, recent food consumption and of course the type and strength of alcoholic drink(s) consumed.
Body composition – can it lead to weight gain?
In short, yes! Alcohol is energy-dense (providing 7 calories per gram) and nutrient-poor, and accordingly has been labeled as providing ‘empty calories’. Therefore, consuming alcohol, especially when combined with sugary mixer drinks, contributes significantly to total daily energy intake. If habitual energy intakes exceed energy expenditure then weight gains will occur, predominantly in the form of adipose (fat) tissue. Alcohol cannot be stored by the body and metabolises it as a priority, its accumulation in the blood can suppress the oxidation of other dietary energy sources (fat, carbohydrate and to a lesser extent protein) and subsequently results in increased fat storage.
How does it affect exercise performance?
Drinking alcohol in the lead up to an event and immediately before an event is likely to impair both physical and psychological performance. For example, causing dehydration resulting in cognitive and physical function. Secondly, alcohol interferes with energy production, as the liver has to first process alcohol, meaning it is less efficient in producing and regulating blood sugar (glucose). This will result low blood glucose, consequently meaning the body will not be able to maintain exercise at a high intensity.
How about recovery?
Problems also arise when the consumption of alcohol takes precedence over other recovery nutritional practices, such as acute intake of carbohydrate, protein and fluid, specifically affecting glycogen storage, muscle protein synthesis and hydration status. Sleep patterns and quality are also hit, compromising the body’s ability return to homeostasis (normal operating conditions).
It is important to highlight that drinking in moderation (sticking to the governments guidelines) can still be part of an active social lifestyle. It is best to enjoy a drinks on non ‘key training’ days. Following competition, exercisers should ensure that they are hitting key recovery targets, such as consuming 1.2g/kg/bodyweight of carbohydrate + 25g high quality protein + adequate fluids, before celebrating!
So the next time you’re tempted to turn to alcohol to unwind after a hard work out, consider the negative impact excessive drinking can have of various aspects of fitness. Managing the relationship between alcohol and fitness can enable you to protect your hard earned physique and training gains, whilst still enjoying the benefits of a tipple of two.
IMAGE & ARTICLE SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1lsYJRA
During the 2005 New York City Marathon, Benjamin Rapoport crashed hard—his legs were racked with pain and his stomach was a mess of cramps. His muscles had run out of fuel—glycogen—and were now burning fat alone. Technically speaking, he bonked. It’s a predictable phase of long-distance running. (In fact, even pro endurance athletes crash sometimes.) “You start to slip,” he says, “and then you’re gone.” Rapoport, who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from MIT and an M.D. from Harvard, decided to study the phenomenon and made a few surprising discoveries. “No one had developed a mathematical way of determining—based on an individual’s biometric characteristics—how to optimize performance with respect to pacing and carb loading,” he says. So Rapoport created an online endurance calculator for doing just that. By entering things like age, weight, and resting heart rate, anyone can have access to these numbers. But Rapoport’s discoveries also offer a new way to approach endurance training in general. These are his tips for finishing strong.
CALORIES BEFORE, NOT DURING
Most training guides suggest that runners eat along the way in order to keep up their calories, but Rapoport says that what you eat 12 to 36 hours before your run is what really provides your fuel. That’s the time to glycogen-pack your muscles and liver.
The goal is to avoid eating during a marathon so your blood flow can stay focused on fueling your muscles, not operating your stomach. (One or two GU gels around the halfway point are OK.) Use simple starches that go down easily, like rice or pasta, and lots of fiber. (For Rapoport’s calorie calculator, check out endurancecalculator.com.)
Conventional wisdom tells you to replace the fluids you sweat out during a race, but Rapoport believes running on a bit of a deficit has benefits. “It can be safe and even advantageous to get slightly dehydrated during a race,” he says. “To an extent, a slight loss of water weight can enable your body to run with greater efficiency, as its metabolic engine is driving a lighter load.”
TRAIN LIKE YOU RACE
Dean of distance running Hal Higdon, whose training program is used by thousands of marathoners every year, advocates running anywhere from one to two minutes per mile slower than your actual race pace during long training runs.
Rapoport disagrees, arguing that you should try to maintain your marathon pace on at least one of your 20-plus-mile training runs. If you’re going to hit the wall, it will happen on a long run, so condition yourself against the bonk.
“I treat the long runs as a dress rehearsal, though I’m not as maniacal and calculated about everything as I am before a race,” Rapoport says. “The Friday before a Sunday run, I think about my diet. I make sure I eat foods that won’t give me trouble when I’m out for a run.”
IMAGE & ARTICLE SOURCE: http://bit.ly/21NHNpk
Here are four of my favorite reactive agility drills. The best part about these is that they're fun... Most athletes will prefer these over getting in a straight line and running through an obstacle course of cones.
In athletics, the ability to decelerate, stop, change direction, and accelerate instantaneously is paramount to success. The ability to abruptly stop and change direction is collectively referred to as agility. Agile athletes (Barry Sanders, Allen Iverson, Sidney Crosby, etc.) are typically the ones you see on Sports Center's Top 10 every morning.
So what is the secret behind the success of these athletes? It can be argued that outside of sport-specific skill, speed is the most important athletic performance factor. I agree that speed is very important. But rarely, if ever, do most athletes reach top speed during a game.
Rarely is an athlete presented with an opportunity to sprint in a straight line for any extended period of time. In most game situations the athlete will be starting, stopping and moving in lateral directions constantly.
Speed is only a piece of the puzzle. Agility is another piece. The best athletes accelerate quickly, are agile, and can read and react to their surroundings.
Skill, speed, or agility WITHOUT the ability to read and react results in a disappointing waste of talent. This is one of the reasons why athletes that perform the best on tests rarely perform the best in competition; they don't know how to analyze their environment and anticipate movement.
I've heard some coaches say that the ability to read and react during a game can't be taught. The athlete either has it or they don't. If you hear your coach say this, find a new coach.
You can definitely improve speed. You can definitely teach athletes to change direction quickly, and effectively. You can definitely teach athletes to keep their heads up. If you can combine all these things into one drill, you get reactive agility training, the best training to teach your athletes to read and react to the movement of another athlete or some other external cue.
Here are four of my favorite reactive agility drills. The best part about these is that they're fun, which is important for maintaining athlete's enthusiasm and compliance. Most athletes will prefer these over getting in a straight line and taking turns running through an obstacle course of cones.
1) LATERAL MIRROR DRILL
Line two athletes up in front of each other. Designate one athlete the leader and the other the follower. The leader moves by shuffling laterally (no crossing over of the feet) within two cones five yards apart. The follower tries to mirror this movement. Let them go for 10 seconds then stop, rest for 20-30 seconds, then have them switch.
Do NOT let this drill go on for too long. You want to train your athletes to be quick and explosive. This is not a conditioning drill!
2) COACH COMMAND DRILL
This is a classic. Some athletes will enjoy this one more than others, but it's an effective reactive agility drill to do in a large team setting.
Have all of your athletes spread out facing one direction. Stand on something so you are easily visible to them. Blow the whistle and point forward, backward, right, or left. Your athletes should sprint forward, backpedal or shuffle laterally in response to your direction. Change the direction of your point every 1-3 seconds for 15-20 seconds.
You can add different directions to the drill such as pointing up to have your athletes jump or down to have your athletes drop into a push-up position (with their stomachs OFF the ground).
3) 15-YARD BOX TAG
Set up four cones in a box, with fifteen yards between each one. Have two athletes start in one corner, blow your whistle twice, allowing the first athlete (the runner) to get a slight head start on the second athlete (the chaser). The runner can run in any direction and change directions as needed as long as he/she stays within the boundaries of the box.
The drill ends if the runner moves outside the box or is tagged, or if the runner can out-maneuver the chaser for ten seconds. To add a competition aspect to it, you can divide your team up into groups of three or four, and have one member from each group play against a member from other groups in a round robin format, keeping score throughout.
4) 6-CONE MIRROR DRILL
This is my favorite of the four. Set up six cones so two adjacent boxes are formed with five yards between each of the cones in a box (so the overall shape of the six cones would be a rectangle looking like : : :). Have an athlete stand in the center of each box, facing each other.
As in the "Lateral Mirror Drill," designate one athlete as the leader and the other as the follower. The leader has the option of running to any one of the four cones in his/her box. After reaching that cone, the leader must return to the center of the box before moving to another cone (it may help to put a dot or another cone in the center of the boxes to make this easier on your athletes).
The athlete in the opposing box must mirror these movements. You can set this up in a few different ways. If the leader runs forward and to the left, the follower could run forward and to the right so the athletes met at the same cone before returning to their respective centers.
You could also set it up so if the leader runs forward and to the right, the follower must run forward and to the right, so they would both reach the top right cone of their respective boxes.
You could also vary whether the athletes had to face one direction the whole time, so they would have to back pedal instead of turning and running to get back, or add cones in the middle of the edges of the boxes to allow the athletes to run straight forward, straight backward, or shuffle laterally from side to side, adding a significant amount of complexity to the drill.
I understand that there is a mind state that hard, effective training shouldn't be fun. I urge you to reconsider. When athletes dread training, their performance goes down, and so does their recovery rate. The more optimistic and enthusiastic they are, the better the result.
Remember that success in competition isn't about going through the motions; it's about reading and reacting quicker than the opponent. Add some of these drills into your team training and you'll create a fun atmosphere to develop competition-ready athletes.
IMAGE & ARTICLE SOURCE: http://bbcom.me/1YXAf0S
CrossFit, the functional fitness movement has been blowing up like crazy, and it doesn't appear to be losing steam. Don't believe us? Well, the numbers don't lie. The CrossFit Games, which began in 2007, grabbed about 150 spectators, however, in 2011 that number exploded to over 8,000. The earning potential for winning athletes has also increased, skyrocketing from $500 to over $250,000. And it doesn't slow down in social media either—CrossFit's Facebook page exceeds 530,000 "fans".
With all this added hype, you get new athletes entering the realm, and with new athletes you get inexperience and increased likelihood of injury. To help those considering exploring the world of CrossFit, we've asked Will Lanier, CF-L1 trainer and competitive athlete in NYC for the six biggest mistakes he sees new athletes make.
1. GOING TOO HARD, TOO FAST
CrossFit is competitive in nature—major lifts and workouts for time would get anyone's adrenaline pumping—but that doesn't come without a risk. Many new athletes in the sport tend to get wrapped up in focusing too much on competing with others rather than learning to pace and challenge themselves first. "It's important to take it slowly over the first few weeks to months and let your body acclimate to the intensity of the workouts," says Lanier. Learn how to perform the movement properly and put your ego to the side, it's not worth the potential for an injury.
2. NOT STAYING REGULAR
To progress in CrossFit, athletes must commit themselves to the sport. "I always tell my athletes that 'Rome wasn’t built in a day'," says Lanier. As with any sport, in order to get better at it, it must remain a constant in your life. "If you commit 3 months of 3-4 days per week you’ll know whether CrossFit is for you or not," he says.
Considering the intensity level of CrossFit, and as with any training or activity, the body needs sufficient rest to recovery and rebuild. "I can never send an athlete home, but overtraining can be extremely detrimental and overlooked," says Lanier. The recommended schedule for a CrossFit athlete is 3 days ON and 1 day OFF to ensure an athlete is getting enough rest. "Personally, I take Thursdays and Sundays off every week to allow my body to recover and to rest," he says.
4. FOCUSING TOO MUCH ON LONG-TERM GOALS VS. SHORT-TERM OBJECTIVES
CrossFit is the same as any other discipline—in order to become faster and stronger, you've got to put in the time and sacrifice. Many athletes get overwhelmingly caught up in the excitement and their end goal that they lose sight of the shorter objectives that need to get done first and foremost. "You’ve got to think in terms of each rep, each step, and each meal," says Lanier.
5. NOT TRAINING STRENGTH SOON ENOUGH
CrossFit is well-known for the insane metabolic conditioning and “intensity” that's shown in videos and on television. Run this far, swing this kettlebell and do these pull-ups. "Strength is needed for all these things, and too often I see fit athletes fail at a workout due to lack of strength, not lack of endurance," says Lanier. Strength training is 100% the difference between a beginner, an intermediate, and an elite athlete so learn the exercises and get liftin'.
6. NEGLECTING WARM UPS AND STRETCHING
Warm-ups and stretching might not be the most exciting part of a workout, or even exciting at all, but without them you're flirting with the danger of injury. There's no reason at all for an athlete of ANY level, not to warm up with a light jog and dynamic stretching (stretches that mimic actual exercises and movement patterns).
IMAGE & ARTICLE SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1NaykR6
A collection of Competitive Athlete articles and selected content from various online sources to help you achieve your winning goals