Everyone who exercises and eats healthily wants to look and perform at their best. Mixing up your training and nutrition to maximise training adaptations are vital for all athletes to achieve peak performance, so you’re not training the same way or eating the same things every day. If you’re training for a marathon you just need to keep running further and eating loads of carbs, right? Wrong!
Footballers don’t just play football and javelin throwers don’t just keep throwing a javelin… Yes this will help you, but there are many more elements to performance that can be targeted for training and physical adaptation, and collectively this will maximise performance in any sport.
Training should be aligned to stress the body under a variety of stimuli, and this should be partnered with a tailored nutrition plan to augment training adaptations and maintain good health, yet maximising performance during competition.
With this in mind, here are a few suggestions you can switch up your training and nutrition strategies to augment your performances.
Mix up your training
Strength and conditioning – Including a variety of strength and explosive weight-resistance training will improve your strength, power, agility, coordination and balance which are all vital for every sport and many day-to-day activities. Bodybuilders and power/strength athletes should look to vary their exercises and load (reps, weight) to stimulate different muscles and their strength and hypertrophy gains.
HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training has become increasingly popular in recent years as this may elicit similar adaptations to long-duration endurance training in a much shorter time frame. This will target different energy systems for fast (anaerobic) energy production, whilst improving strength, recovery times and repeatedly high-intensity performance. Ultimately, the ability to tap into both the body’s aerobic and anaerobic energy supplies at the right time will truly augment performance. This could be as small yet significant as a hill climb during a 10K race.
Plyometric training – This is ideal for any athlete that performs single or repeated explosive jumping actions e.g. long & triple jump, basketball. Plyometric exercises are designed to maximise explosive force production for powerful lower-limb movements and greater performances.
Wind resistance training – As with any training technique, added resistance makes the task harder. Performing your fast, explosive sprints with a parachute on your back will require more effort as the air collected in the chute will be fighting against you. This will help develop strength and agility and you’ll feel much lighter and faster without it.
Yoga/Pilates – Another element that may be hindering performance is flexibility and mobility. If you’re like me and can’t touch your toes (I’m 6” 3 to be fair!) then you’re susceptibility to injury is greater than somebody who is very flexible. Including Yoga and/or Pilates into your training can help improve flexibility, core strength and correct any muscular imbalances, as these are vital for injury prevention.
Adapting your diet
Training before or after breakfast – Early morning fasted training is a strategy used by many endurance athletes to maximise the metabolic stress of that particular training session to increase molecular adaptations within the working muscles. However training after breakfast, typically high in carbohydrates, is still important to fuel higher intensity sessions and maximise performance in competition. A combination of training before and after food is required to get the best of both scenarios.
Low carbohydrate availability – Similar to training before breakfast, reduced carbohydrate availability is a relatively new strategy for enhancing endurance adaptations. This can be achieved by training after an overnight fast, double training sessions, sleeping with depleted glycogen stores and even training the morning after. This is explained in greater detail in the ‘How to fuel for endurance training vs competition’ blog.
Increasing muscle mass – If you’re training goal is to increase muscle mass and strength then you need to work just as hard in the kitchen as you do in the gym. To get the most from your resistance training you need to be eating in a caloric surplus to support growth of lean muscle tissue. Feed your muscles with high quality proteins every 3-4 hours, together with sufficient carbohydrates and fats to fuel your training that will total 300-500kcal more than your daily energy expenditure. This can equate to a lot of food so the use of supplements such as our Big Whey or Ultimate can help you achieve this.
Losing body fat – Carrying excess body fat can hinder performance, and if you compete in make-weight sports then having a smart nutrition plan to meet your target weight in the weeks before competition is essential. Losing body fat does not always mean losing weight, especially if you’re an athlete. Reducing daily energy intakes by 500kcal and eating sufficient dietary protein (2g·kg·body mass) is realistic to prevent significant losses in lean tissue.