Complete Guide to Becoming an Elite Athlete

Welcome to the Complete Guide to Becoming an Elite Athlete. My name is Rakim Anim (Coach Rak) founder of N1 Motion. As a Professional Performance Coach serving hundreds of athletes at all levels, from youth to the pros, my team and I have developed a complete guide to becoming an elite athlete. This manual is designed to educate athletes, coaches, and parents on what it takes to become an ELITE athlete and how to maximize athletic potential to accomplish personal goals and play at the highest level possible. 

In this guide we will cover the following topics:

  1. Multi-Sport vs Sport Specific Athletic Training 
  2. Psyche of ELITE Athletes 
  3. How to Use Self Talk to Build ELITE Confidence 
  4. Unlock ELITE Potential with Effect Performance Training 
  5. Fueling for Optimal Performance 
  6. Recovery is Everything 
  7. Get Laser Focused with Goal Setting

At N1 Motion we are dedicated to empowering all athletes to accomplish their fitness and performance goals while maximizing their athletic potential. We hope you are able to take tangible information away from this guide that will empower you to reach personal success!

Multi-Sport vs Sport Specific Athletic Training

With more and more club teams and “elite” youth programs popping up in sports, there is a lot of pressure for athletes and parents to “specialize” in one sport year-round instead of participating in multiple sports throughout the year. Is one option better to become an elite athlete or do both have an equal chance of helping athletes stay healthy and optimize their opportunity to maximize their potential?

It is not uncommon for coaches, parents, and athletes to believe that specializing in a sport at an early age is the secret ingredient to becoming a world-class athlete,  especially when you consider the success of athletes like Tiger Woods and Rafael Nadal, who excelled in their sports at an early age. However, research exploring elite athlete development suggests that athletes that specialize early and succeed at the highest level, are the exception to the rule, not the rule itself.

There is also a myth that participating in many different sports is not advantageous in advancing an athletes’ ability. Athletes are able to develop a variety of skills by playing multiple sports that will eventually transfer over to their primary sport. In fact, researchers have found elite athletes spent less time training in their primary sport before the age of 15 compared to their less successful peers. 

A sports scientist by the name of Istvan Balyi created the Long Term Athletic Development model (LTAD). This model is a framework for an optimal training, competition, and recovery schedule for each stage of athletic development. Coaches who engage in the model and its practices are more likely to produce athletes who reach their full athletic potential. The principles of this research have been adopted by youth athletic associations globally as the framework for proper management of youth and adolescent growth and development processes. It also identified the critical periods of accelerated adaptation to training. 

When considering which is better multi-sport vs. sport specific, it’s important to evaluate the long term effects of each scenario. Specializing in a single sport early can lead to problematic injuries, overtraining, and burnout. Although there are short term benefits to specialization, such as getting more repetition; doing this early on is more detrimental than a competitive advantage long term. Participating in multiple sports allows an athlete to acquire a variety of skills and experience different environments that will transfer as the athlete further develops and chooses his or her primary sport. Single sport specialization is advantageous as an athlete develops fundamental skills and adapts to optimal windows of trainability. The best time to specialize in a single sport is around 15 years old. At this time an athlete is physically and mentally prepared for higher training volume. At this age the athlete is more than able to make up for time NOT spent in early specialization. 

Psyche of ELITE Athletes 

Have you ever wondered why elite athletes achieve greater success in their respective sport compared to everyone else? What separates Lebron James from Gerald Green? Tom Brady from Tony Romo, Serena Williams from Lauren Davis? Now, you may be thinking their physical ability is what separates them, and you may be right if we were comparing the great’s to you or I. But, that is not the case when comparing them to their pears. According to Dr. David Hesse Sports Scientist in Psychology, the biggest disparity between good and great athlete success, is their mindset. 

Growth Mindset

The concept of a growth mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck. A mindset, according to Dweck, is a self-perception or “self-theory” that you have about yourself. Believing that you are either “talented” or “not talented” is an example of a mindset. You may be aware or unaware of your mindsets, according to Dweck, but they can have a profound effect on learning achievement, skill acquisition, personal relationships, professional success, and many other dimensions of life. 

There are two distinct mindsets “fixed” and “growth.” According to Dweck, “In a fixed mindset you believe your abilities are simply fixed traits.” People with this mindset don’t spend time developing their abilities. They also believe that talent alone creates success without effort.

If you have a growth mindset, then you believe your abilities can be developed through dedication, hard work, intelligence and talent. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. If you embrace the growth mindset you will accomplish more, accomplish your goals more quickly, and view challenges and failures as opportunities to improve your abilities and skills

The greatest athletes in the world have a growth mindset. One thing that they all have in common is they “buy in” to the process of what it takes to truly maximize talent and their abilities. Every detail of their day is planned and strategic to make them better in some way, shape, or form, than they were the day before. They are trying to maintain the highest level of performance for as long as possible. You may not be Lebron James, Tom Brady, or Serena Williams, but we can all look at what they do that makes them great and apply it to our own lives and personal situation. Whether your looking to make a team, reach a fitness goal, or just striving to be your best self, adopting a growth mindset will allow you to maximize your abilities and potential so you can accomplish your goals, dreams, and aspirations. 

How to Use Self Talk To Build ELITE Confidence

A huge part of motivation is what we tell ourselves, or self talk. Having positive self talk is key to success when it comes to achieving goals. According to expert neurologist we averaged 70,000 thoughts a day. These thoughts include both conscious and unconscious. Conscious thoughts are dictated by our surroundings and environment, along with past experiences. Our views, outlook on life, and perception of ourselves is determined by our different upbringings and life experiences. These experiences will dictate whether you have positive or negative self talk. 

Self-talk is the act of talking to yourself either out loud or mentally. The messages you tell yourself will encourage and motivate you, or they will limit you if they are negative. It’s important to recognize your inner voice so you can identify when you’re having positive or negative self talk.

Here is negative self talk that you want to avoid.

  • Mind reading: assuming we understand what other people are thinking without any real evidence.
  • Overgeneralization: the habit of telling ourselves that a negative event is bound to continue happening in the future.
  • Magnification: when we take our own errors or flaws and exaggerate them.
  • Minimization: the mirror image of magnification, being dismissive of our strengths and positive qualities.
  • Emotional reasoning: the habit of making decisions based on how we feel rather than what we value.
  • Personalization: assuming excessive amounts of responsibility, especially for things that are mostly or entirely outside our control.
  • Fortune Telling: the mental habit of predicting what will happen based on little or no real evidence.
  • Should Statements: a kind of self-talk we use to try and motivate ourselves by always telling ourselves what we should and should not do.

In order to combat negative self talk use these positive self talk strategies

  1. Have a purpose higher than yourself
  2. Cut negative people out of your life
  3. Be grateful
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others
  5. Use positivity with others
  6. Believe in your success
  7. Don’t fear failure
  8. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
  9. Positive affirmation
  10. Don’t dwell in the past
  11. Visualize your success
  12. Limit your intake of news and media
  13. Help others
  14. Be physically active
  15. Dream and set goals

When and how to be effective at self talk?

In order to be effective at self talk you must make it a habit. To start, every morning think of something that you are grateful for and give thanks. Then give yourself positive affirmations such as:

  •      I am determined and successful
  •      I am confident
  •      I am strong
  •      My life has meaning and purpose
  •      I am in control of my choices
  •      I am not afraid to fail because it will help me grow

How is self talk critical to building confidence?

Do you feel shy in front of a big audience? Do you have little belief in your talents and skills? Positive self-talk can make you feel more confident in these situations. Negative self-talk will hinder you from performing at your fullest by allowing doubt to come into your thoughts. With positive self-talk, you can put your doubts aside and focus on accomplishing the task. Confidence and success go hand in hand. Those who are successful at what they do, truly believe in themselves and their abilities.  Confidence is so important to success that many psychologists believe that it is one of the primary prerequisites to personal and professional success. Be confident in everything you do by lifting yourself up with positive self-talk.

Unlock ELITE Potential with Effect Performance Training 

Your athleticism is the foundation of your sport specific skill. Without some level of athleticism, athletes are not able to effectively execute the skills that their sport demands. As competition increases, this becomes even more apparent. Look at the difference between a D1 basketball player and a D2 or D3 basketball player. Although there may be slight differences in skills, the biggest difference between the level of play is the athleticism and genetics of a D1 players compared to a D2 or D3 player. D1 players are typically taller, longer, and more athletic.

So, if we know athletes with superior genetics have the competitive advantage, how do we level the playing field? In full transparency there are multiple factors that contribute to athleticism. Genetics is a huge factor in the way that your body stores and produces elastic energy which is responsible for your explosive power and strength. Other factors that contribute to your athleticism include movement efficiency, mobility, strength, and your central nervous system. Without getting too technical, there are factors that you can control that contribute to your overall athleticism, and there are factors that you cannot control, like genetics. The good news is, with proper training, you can maximize your personal capabilities with a sound comprehensive program. 

Comprehensive and Progressive Programing

I see a lot of performance programs that are based on random high volume routines that make athletes tired and leave them feeling depleted each workout. Although this type of training may get an athlete in shape short term, eventually this approach will cause training plateaus, burnout, or even injury. 

An effective sports performance program that is designed to maximize athleticism should be comprehensive and progressive. A comprehensive program is one that is detailed and touches on all aspects of athletic ability (mobility, stability, coordination, agility, speed, strength, power, cognitive ability, and restoration to prevent injury). Touching on all of these athletic qualities daily and or weekly will allow athletes to fill each bucket, which will then enhance overall athleticism that will transfer to sport activity. 

The other important aspect of an effective performance training program is progression. It is easy to get caught up in short term gains but unless an athlete plans to retire or quit in the next 3 months, it is extremely important to think about the big picture. You have to know and understand what is the long term goal and work backwards from there. If a 15 year old athlete aspires to play college sports but just started taking training seriously and doesn’t have much training experience, he or she has to focus on building a foundation of core strength, coordination, and mobility. The adage  “you can’t build a house on toothpicks,” couldn’t be more true in this situation. Learning proper technique and improving movement efficiency early on, will go a long way and will increase the ceiling of an athletes athletic potential if they lay the foundation properly and early on in the training stage. 

Once a foundation has been set, progressive overload is the key to long term sustained results. That means every 2-4 weeks there has to be an adjustment to the plan because our bodies are designed to adapt to stimulus. Once an adaptation occurs from completing a program consistently for 2- 4 weeks, the next phase of the program should increase volume (sets and reps), load (weight), or intensity (exercise selection or rest period). This same method should be followed with each new training phase in order to continue to progress toward maximizing athletic potential. 

Best approach to training

  • Improve coordination and movement efficiency (“can’t build a house on toothpicks”)
  • Develop work capacity and endurance
  • General strength
  • Max strength
  • Sport specific speed and power development 
  • Progressive overload

Fuel for Optimal Performance 

Elite athletes are finely-tuned machines, but without the right fuel even the most physically-gifted competitors don’t have what it takes to push themselves past the breaking point on guts and determination alone. That’s why proper nutrition is a cornerstone of elite performance, and why aspiring all-star athletes would do well to think about the food choices they make.  

Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are the three main suppliers of nutrients in our diet. These are known as macronutrients or “macros”. Macros play a vital role in our ability to perform at our peak level. Athletes can practice for hours but unless they fuel their bodies properly they will not reach their peak performance. Food is the fuel for our body to be able to get stronger, faster, recover, and perform. If you feel tired, sluggish, have a decrease in performance, always sore muscles, injuries that won’t heal, or a crash in the middle of game or practice; these are all signs that you are not fueling correctly. Below is a guide for building healthy macronutrients into your nutrition plan.

Protein

Protein is essential to building and repairing muscle to enhance strength and power. It is commonly found in animal products, although it is also present in other sources, such as nuts and legumes. 

Here are the benefits of consuming protein. 

  • Build and repair muscle tissue
  • Heal tissues/injuries
  • Building blocks of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. 
  • Keeps us full and satisfied

Protein Sources

  • Beef:Grass fed ground beef, bison, elk, venison, pork
  • Fish: Salmon, shrimp, tuna, scallops, halibut (or any white fish)
  • Poultry: Eggs, Chicken, Turkey (white or dark meat)
  • Dairy: Milk, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese, cheese
  • Beans: Beans (any variety? Or only specific ones) contain more protein than any other vegetable protein. Plus, they’re loaded with fiber that helps you feel full for hours.
  • Nuts/Seeds: One ounce of almonds gives you 6 grams of protein-almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chia/flax etc. 
  • Protein bars and Powders: Rx bar, Dales raw protein bars, bullet proof bars, oatmega bars, primal kitchen collagen bars, Epic or tanka meat bars

Aim to have a protein source at each meal (about 20-40g per meal).

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are sugars, starches, and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk products. Carbohydrates are very important to supplying energy for high performance during sport activities. There is a lot of information on carb-free diets, these are detrimental to an athlete. Carbs are the bodies preferred source of fuel. There are healthy and unhealthy carbs. Any carb that involves processed sugar would be a bad carb (cookies, cake, sugary cereal). 

Benefits of Carbs

  • Fuel training and help with recovery 
  • Preserves muscle and glycogen (fuel sources)
  • Helps with recovery to be ready to go for next game or practice

Best Carb Sources 

  • Whole grains:oats, quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, faro, couscous, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread
  • Fruits:Bananas great pre/post workout snack. Include a variety of fruits in your day
  • Vegetables:starchy-sweet potatoes, squash, parsnips, beets, potatoes, peas, corn. Non-starchy-broccoli, cauliflower, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, greens, asparagus etc. Make sure to have a veggie at every meal
  • Beans:Great source of fiber to help stay full and satisfied

Aim to have ~ 40 – 80g of carbohydrates per meal.

Fats

Although it gets a bad rap, fat is an important nutrient that the body needs in order to function. Eating the right amount and the right form of dietary fat is key to maintaining good health and performance. Fat plays a key role in sports performance because it functions as an energy reserve. 

  • Helps fuel your workouts during low intensity bouts
  • Primary fuel source at rest
  • Slow Digesting to keep you feeling full and satisfied longer 

Best Sources of fats

  • Nuts and seeds-1/4 cup is approximate serving. Include all varieties. 
  • Avocados
  • Dairy(2% or higher) Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, string cheese, milk, butter, ghee
  • Oils-extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil
  • Meats and fish-Wild salmon, grass fed beef, pork etc. 

Aim for ~7-12g of fat per meal.

Healthy Smoothie Recipes: These incorporate a protein, a carbohydrate, and a fat.

1 scoop of protein powder

1 fist of veggies (spinach works great)

1 Cup of berries

1-2 TBSP of nut or seed butter

8 oz Milk or unsweetened almond milk

Ice if desired 

            OR 

1 cup of Greek yogurt

1 big handful of spinach

1 banana

1-2 TBSP nut or seed butter

8oz of chocolate unsweetened almond milk

Balance is Key 

The key to optimal nutrition fueling is consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, and carbohydrates. You want to limit your consumption of refined processed carbs like sugary cereal, syrups, candy, cookies, etc., the less you have, the better. Aim for one meal every 2-4 hours to meet your daily caloric requirements. This may vary from person to person based on sex, age, weight, height, and activity level. 

Recovery is Everything 

As an athlete, it’s easy to get caught up in the barbells, sleds, and plyo boxes. While what you do in the gym is unbelievably important, taking care of your body when you’re not at the gym is equally as important. I have put together a list of 4 tips for maximum recovery to keep you at the top of your game.

Get Moving

One of the worst things you can do on your recovery days is to be a couch potato. When we workout, our body produces byproducts like lactic acid, pyruvate, and NADH+. These byproducts pool up and cause our muscles to be sluggish, slow and sore. In order for our body to get rid of these byproducts, it requires blood flow to carry them out of our muscles. A blood flow elevated above resting will help to drain these byproducts from our muscles and speed up recovery.

Tips for moving during a recovery day:

  • Go for a light jog/walk
    • Just get your heart rate up, don’t push it
  • Foam roll
    • Spend 20-30 seconds on each of the major muscles
    • Glutes/Hamstrings/Calves/Quads
    • Lats/Upper back/Pecs
  • Lacrosse ball
    • Spend some time isolating specific knots or trigger points
    • Place the lacrosse ball on the knot and slowly grind into it
  • Stretch
    • Stretch the major muscles. If you neglect mobility, over time you will develop pain and injuries because the muscles aren’t functioning the way they should.
    • Spend 20-30 seconds on each muscle
    • Dynamic stretching combined with a light jog/walk is a great combo
    • Try this 5 minute mobility routine

Eat Right

Proper fuel is absolutely essential for competitive athletes. In order for our bodies to function properly at the competition, they need fuel. Not only do they need fuel, they need the right fuel. Think of your body like a car. You could fill your car up with bleach and it would run … but not for long. If you’re filling your body with junk food and missing out on the right nutrients, your body won’t perform the way you want it to for very long.

Tips for improving your nutrition:

  • Portion size properly
  • Hydrate properly
  • Balance it out

Sleep

One of the biggest factors that significantly influences your body’s performance is sleep. Proper sleep has been shown to increase performance, motivation, concentration, and improve cognitive performance. While we are sleeping, our bodies go to work. During sleep, your body increases the hormone productions that lead to rebuilding muscles, increasing the tensile strength of your actin and myosin within the muscle fibers. It is recommended for athletes to get anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you are in the middle of pre-season or heavy training times, an extra hour is typically recommended. If you can’t manage to get that much sleep at night, naps can be a way to add up to that sleep total.

Tips for getting good sleep:

  • Get in a rhythm and stick to it! Plan ahead, finish homework/work in time that you can get to bed at a consistent time
  • Avoid being on your phone in bed, the stimulus will fight your body wanting to sleep
  • Avoid caffeine in the second half of the day

Get Laser Focused with Goal Setting

Have you ever set a goal and struggled to attain it? Goal setting is all about gaining clarity and breaking down your end goal into smaller goals. Goal setting is great for accountability and  productivity. Studies have shown that goal setting increases your productivity and success rate between 11 to 25 percent. So just by writing this stuff down and thinking; “OK what’s the desired outcome that I want and then what are the steps that I need to take to get there?” You’re going to be up to 25 percent more successful just by taking these actions when you set goals. 

Three keys for successful goal setting can be broken down into three separate sub goals, outcome goals, performance goals, and process goals. Breaking down your goals this way makes it easier to organize your thoughts and really wrap your head around what it is that you’re actually trying to accomplish and what you need to do to get there.

Outcome Goals

The number one question you want to ask yourself is what the main thing you want to accomplish is. What do you really want to get out of your goal? This will help you figure out what you want your outcome goal to be. Outcome goals are very binary and they’re hugely motivating. When most people set goals, this is the primary type we see. An example of this would be, make the all conference team. Or maybe you’re striving for some type of winning based goal like winning a championship, race, or all state honors.  

Outcome goals have a set time and specific outcome. Outcome goals are highly motivating and inspire us to accomplish what we want to achieve. The other two goal types helps create the blueprint to accomplish your outcome goal. 

Performance Goals

Outcome goals are the final destination. Performance goals are benchmarks or milestones that are going to help you along the way. Something you want to ask yourself; “what are the performance standards that are going to help you reach your desired outcome?” Performance based goals are just a standard, and like I said, these are benchmarks or milestones that tell you, you’re almost to your destination. These smaller measures of success are extremely important and give you the energy boost you need to continue working towards your outcome goal. If my outcome goal is to make the all conference team, averaging 21 points per game would be an example of a performance based goal. If I hit this smaller goal daily or weekly throughout the season, I will put myself in a good position to reach my outcome goal. 

So to keep on pace to make the all conference team, you need to rank amongst the best players in the conference. This means being dominant on a consistent basis and leading your team to a successful record along with individual achievements. As you can see, it’s just taking your outcome goal and then segmenting that down into smaller more digestible size performance goals that you can measure on a weekly, daily, or monthly schedule based on how far out your outcome goal is. That way, you can give yourself little measures of success that keep you motivated. If you only focus on outcome based goals and you don’t have these kind of more short term goals you’re going to lose sight and you might get steered off track.

Process Goal

As I mentioned before, the third goal is going to be process goals and these are my personal favorites. These are little daily reminders that you can give yourself to make sure that you stay on track.

Process goals are the most important of the three goal types. Process goals are very tangible and easy to track. Yes I did this or no I did not. But if you track these process goals on a daily or weekly basis you should hit your performance goals. If you hit your performance goals, then you’ll hit your outcome goals. An example of a process goal is making 500 shots 6 days a week. 

Notice the process goal is measurable and you can even track progress by tracking shooting percentage and how many attempts it took to make 500 shots each day. Now these examples are specific to basketball but you can adjust the three goal types to make them personal to your own goals based on your specific sport. 

So again, start with an overarching goal and work your way backwards so you have the outcome, performance, and process goals. One big advantage of doing this is getting your thoughts organized and just what you need to do to get to where you want to go. 

Those are very important but let’s think about other life goals whether it’s relationship related whether it’s religion related no matter what that is. Let’s try and really wrap our minds around one of the three to five areas in your life that you want to improve upon. Set SMART goals or get a specific understanding of exactly what you want to accomplish those goals and then kind of move on to each one of those categories. It’s not uncommon to have three to five goals going on at once. As long as we organize it with first setting smart goals for the outcome and then breaking that down into performance and process goals for the short term so you can stay on track so you can accomplish your goals. That’s the number one thing we want for you guys in order to succeed and set yourselves up for success. 

Now that you have acquired the knowledge of what it takes to become an ELITE athlete, the next step is most important, and that is actually applying this information and executing. At N1 Motion we are dedicated to empowering ALL athletes to reach their personal goes and help them maximize their potential. We do this by providing excellent coaching comprehensive training solutions to meet each athletes needs. Visit our website www.n1motion.com or contact us today info@57q.540.myftpupload.com for more info on how we can help serve you.


3 Ways to Get the Scale Moving

Do you want the scale to move – and MOVE NOW!?  Here’s 3 ways to get the scale moving in the right direction, RIGHT NOW! 

  1. Start with Nutrition.  Most people think that working out is what they need to do right away to get the scale moving.  And yet, truthfully, food is where you can see the most results.  80% diet and 20% working out is a great rule to follow.  You can’t out-train a poor diet – it’s impossible!  So starting in the kitchen is a huge key to your overall success and getting the scale moving in the right direction (no matter what direction that may be). I also highly recommend tracking your food. What get’s measured get’s improved – right?  I’m unsure of who said this, but – they are right!  Even if you don’t want to use a tracking app, simply writing down what you eat in a day can be a very eye opening experience.  But, overall – food is key in overall health and fitness goals.  This is a foundation when it comes to getting results. 
  2. Comprehensive Programming.  Now, let’s get to the working out part. There is a strategic and science-based way to optimally train when it comes to working out.  It’s not one size fits all.  Find something that first, interests you and keeps you interested and also, that works for you!  If you need help in this area – we have your back!  We offer custom comprehensive programming.  If you are interested in this – please reach out to us and we’d be happy to help in any way that we can! 
  3. Find a Plan that’s for YOU.  Again, it’s not one size fits all.  The best plan for you is the one that you will stick with – for a LIFETIME.  We truly believe in making health and wellness a lifestyle because that is the only way you will get results and maintain those results.  In addition, there are so many positive benefits to living a healthy lifestyle.  This does not mean you need to restrict, restrict, restrict.  That’s only going to cause you to binge and restrict again and get stuck in that cycle.  Not to mention, you’ll be miserable every time your restricting!  Nobody wants that.  It’s finding what works best in your life.

If you are looking to get started on your healthy lifestyle, contact us!  We’d be happy to help you find a nutrition plan and workout plan that works for you.  


Unlock ELITE Athletic Potential with Effect Performance Training

Your athleticism is the foundation of your sport specific skill. Without some level of athleticism, athletes are not able to effectively execute the skills that their sport demands. As competition increases, this becomes even more apparent. Look at the difference between a D1 basketball player and a D2 or D3 basketball player. Although there may be slight differences in skills, the biggest difference between the level of play is the athleticism and genetics of a D1 player compared to a D2 or D3 player. D1 players are typically taller, longer, and more athletic.

So, if we know athletes with superior genetics have the competitive advantage, how do we level the playing field? In full transparency there are multiple factors that contribute to athleticism. Genes are a huge factor in the way that your body stores and produces elastic energy which is responsible for your explosive power and strength. Other factors that contribute to your athleticism include movement efficiency, mobility, strength, and your central nervous system. Without getting too technical, there are factors that you can control that contribute to your overall athleticism, and there are factors that you cannot control, like genetics. The good news is, with proper training, you can maximize your personal capabilities with a sound comprehensive program.

Comprehensive and Progressive Programing

I see a lot of performance programs that are based on random high volume routines that make athletes tired and leave them feeling depleted each workout. Although this type of training may get an athlete in shape short term, eventually this approach will cause training plateaus, burnout, or even injury.

An effective sports performance program that is designed to maximize athleticism should be comprehensive and progressive with effective periodization. A comprehensive program is one that is detailed and touches on all aspects of athletic ability (mobility, stability, coordination, agility, speed, strength, power, cognitive ability, and restoration to prevent injury). Touching on all of these athletic qualities daily and or weekly will allow athletes to fill each bucket, which will then enhance overall athleticism that will transfer to sport activity.

The other important aspect of an effective performance training program is progression. It is easy to get caught up in short term gains but unless an athlete plans to retire or quit in the next 3 months, it is extremely important to think about the big picture. You have to know and understand what is the long term goal and work backwards from there. If a 15 year old athlete aspires to play college sports but just started taking training seriously and doesn’t have much training experience, he or she has to focus on building a foundation of core strength, coordination, and mobility. The adage  “you can’t build a house on toothpicks,” couldn’t be more true in this situation. Learning proper technique and improving movement efficiency early on, will go a long way and will increase the ceiling of an athletes athletic potential if they lay the foundation properly and early on in the training stage.

Once a foundation has been set, progressive overload is the key to long term sustained results. That means every 2-4 weeks there has to be an adjustment to the plan because our bodies are designed to adapt to stimulus. Once an adaptation occurs from completing a program consistently for 2- 4 weeks, the next phase of the program should increase volume (sets and reps), load (weight), or intensity (exercise selection or rest period). This same method should be followed with each new training phase in order to continue to progress toward maximizing athletic potential.

Best approach to training

  • Improve coordination and movement efficiency (“can’t build a house on toothpicks”)
  • Develop work capacity and endurance
  • General strength
  • Max strength
  • Sport specific speed and power development
  • Progressive overload

Have You Hit a Plateau in Your Fitness?

One thing we probably all have experienced before, no matter what our fitness goals are, is a plateau.  Plateau’s can happen for several different reasons, which is what we will go over. In addition, we will give you 5 ways you can get over plateaus!  

Why Do Plateaus Happen?

  1. Caloric Deficit – Now, you might say “I thought the rule was calories in vs. calories out” in a weight loss scenario.  And yes, this is true to a degree. However, if you are at too much of a calorie deficit your body is also not getting all the nutrients it needs.  And if this happens for too long, this is where a plateau will occur.
  2. Starvation Mode – When you are hungry, your body releases a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is also the hormone in your body that promotes fat storage.  Whenever you have feelings of hunger during the day, your body is producing too much ghrelin. This in turn causes your metabolism to slow down and fat storage to go up.
  3. Tracking – If you are not tracking your food, you can expect to hit a plateau.  And if you do track your food, a lot of us don’t track properly or report all calories eaten.  

Here’s 5 ways to get past that stubborn plateau:

  1. Stop Starving Yourself – Work with a professional to figure out what a good calorie intake would be to reach your goals.  In addition, if you are starving yourself, you are less likely to stick with this type of diet and you will feel deprived constantly.  And this may cause you to get into the restrict – binge cycle a lot of us know so well.
  2. Track – When you have specific fitness goals, tracking is a huge way to reach these goals.  And ensure you are tracking properly by measuring your intake as well. There can be a huge difference between guessing and actually measuring:
  • For example: A medium apple (100g) = 52 calories and 14 carbohydrates.  A large apple (223g) = 116 calories and 31 carbohydrates. So, if you are not measuring that apple and tracking the calories for the exact size, you could potentially overeat quite easily.  
  • Some of our favorite Tracking Apps:
  1. My Fitness Pal –  
  2. My Plate Calorie Counter
  3. Lose It! Calorie Counter
  4. LifeSum: Diet and Macro Tracker

**Our suggestion is to work with a professional to figure out calories and macros (protein, carbs, fat daily count) that is for you and your goals.  A lot of times apps will restrict your calories too much and this will cause a plateau as mentioned above.

  1. Make it a Lifestyle – Finding a diet and exercise routine that fits best into your life is ultimately the one you will stick with. Stop restricting and binging.  Stop getting some results, stopping and then starting over. Making your health a priority and part of your everyday life is ultimately the best way to get results and maintain those results long term.
  2. Rest – If your goals are losing weight, it’s common that losing weight up front is easier than losing those last few pounds.  As we get leaner, our body holds onto certain weight a lot more because of survival purposes (and for women, perhaps child bearing purposes).  In this scenario, a lot of people think they need to restrict calories even more, which will in turn create a more negative outcome. Giving your body rest is important in this case.  Taking stress off the body will be huge in this scenario. Additionally, try increasing your calorie restriction 10% each week until you are only in a 500 calorie deficit. This will help jump start your weight loss once again!

Change it Up – Have you been doing the same classes each week?  Or the same program? Our bodies are made to adapt.  As workouts become less challenging, they also become less effective.  That does not mean you have to progressively make your workouts harder and harder.  But, you could simply change the types of exercises you’re doing. You could go heavy with strength training with fewer reps and then switch to lighter with more reps the next week.  For example, if you normally do push-ups maybe switch it up to a bench press this week. And if you are not sure where to start on switching things up, we have you covered! Our programming is specifically created with this in mind!  


Why You Should Be Doing More Core Stability Exercises

Stabilization exercises were formerly the realm of the physical therapist. Strength and conditioning coaches and fitness professionals are now starting to value the importance of the torso muscles as stabilizers. Lumbar stabilization has been utilized in the physical therapy community for years to treat low back dysfunction but recently fitness professionals view stabilization as a preventative measure for any athlete and a way to enhance all areas of fitness.

What is The Primary Function of The Torso?

Our torso is made up of a group of muscles that primarily function to prevent unwanted movement during day-to-day activities, working out, or sport participation. To prevent unwanted movement, our torso has to stabilize joints. The lumbar spine and pelvis in particular, are the most important.  Functional training is the most effective way to call on your torso to enhance core stability.

Benefits of Core Stability Exercises?

A strong core enhances balance, stability, and energy transfer. Thus, it can help prevent injuries during day-to-day activities and sports injuries. Core strength directly correlates to exercise and sport activities like walking, jogging, sprinting, throwing, squatting, jumping, and swinging motions. The stronger your core is, the more efficient you will be at these activities. Through strengthening your core, you will see an increase in your performance as well as minimize your risk for injuries.

Implementation

In any sound program their should be at least one core stability exercise in each workout. There are thousands of effective core  stability exercise, some are more effective than others. The primary thing that you want to consider is your pelvic positioning. This is crucial for proper alignment to maximize muscle recruitment and activation. Your pelvis has the capacity to tip forward or back, depending both on your inherent structure and day-to-day activities. Extreme tipping one way or the other can create problems over time, so can lack of mobility of the pelvis. Your core muscles are the ones that regulate both how much movement is possible between the pelvis and the lumbar spine and where the position of your pelvis will end up on that spectrum. So we use our core musculature to consciously control the position of the pelvis during movement to train the body not to go into extremes.


Top 3 Things to Do when Experiencing Digestion Problems.

Gut health is a hot topic in the fitness industry. Which is good because we are realizing that your overall health starts from the gut. A healthy gut is the foundation – you can’t build a house on unstable foundation, can you? Of course not! And you can’t build a healthy body without first recognizing that gut health comes first. There are some buzz words circling the fitness industry such as leaky gut, FodMaps, NightShades, and elimination diet (which was previously discussed in an early blog). But, truth be told, just like gut health is the foundation of overall health, there are 3 things to check-in with first before considering other causes of digestive problems.

Common Digestive Problems:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Heartburn

But, before jumping into food sensitivities or leaky gut, here’s the top 3 things to check-in with:

  1. Micronutrients: the Vitamins and Minerals in your foods that you get on a daily basis. This comes down to food selection. Ensuring you are getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function optimally can be challenging. This is the first building block to health and wellness and something that is highly overlooked. There’s a lot of nutrient-dense foods to choose from, but there’s also a lot of nutrient-deprived foods that exist and are usually easier to get your hands on. Taking a daily vitamin can really help fill in the gaps with micronutrients.
  2. Macronutrients: the amount of Protein, Fats and Carbohydrates you are eating on a daily basis. We each are unique and need a different number of each of these in a day depending on our current physique and what our goals are. In addition, getting these from the right sources matters. Example: Carbohydrates from a sweet potato is better than potato chips. So, again, ensuring you are choosing the right foods each day.
  3. Digestive Enzymes: are substances produced by our bodies that help us to digest the foods we eat. Some of us can be deficient in digestive enzymes, which can cause gas and bloating. There are supplements you can take to help absorption which can really help with this! If you need supplement recommendations, please reach out to me (aly.mcpherson@57q.540.myftpupload.com).

These are the top 3 things to look at first when experiencing digestion problems. Ensure your foundation is set in place before exploring other potential problems. If you have any questions – please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!


Which is Better: Multi-Sport or Sport Specific Athletic Training?

With more and more club teams and “elite” youth programs popping up in sports, there is a lot of pressure for athletes and parents to “specialize” in one sport year-round instead of participating in multiple sports throughout the year. Is one option better to become an elite athlete or do both have an equal chance of helping athletes stay healthy and optimize their opportunity to maximize their potential.?

It is not uncommon for coaches, parents, and athletes to believe that specializing in a sport at an early age is the secret ingredient to becoming a world-class athlete,  especially when you consider the success of athletes like Tiger Woods and Rafael Nadal, who excelled in their sports at an early age. However, research exploring elite athlete development suggests that athletes that specialize early and succeed at the highest level, are the exception to the rule, not the rule itself.

There is also a myth that participating in many different sports is not advantageous in advancing an athletes’ ability. Athletes are able to develop a variety of skills by playing multiple sports that will eventually transfer over to their primary sport. In fact, researchers have found elite athletes spent less time training in their primary sport before the age of 15 compared to their less successful peers.

A sports scientist by the name of Istvan Balyi created  the Long Term Athletic Development model (LTAD). This model is a framework for an optimal training, competition, and recovery schedule for each stage of athletic development. Coaches who engage in the model and its practices are more likely to produce athletes who reach their full athletic potential. The principles of this research have been adopted by youth athletic associations globally as the framework for proper management of youth and adolescent growth and development processes. It also identified the critical periods of accelerated adaptation to training.

When considering which is better multi-sport vs sport specific it’s important to evaluate the long term effects of each scenario. Specializing in a single sport early can lead to problematic injuries, overtraining, and burnout. Although there are short term benefits to specialization, such as getting more repetition; doing this early on is more detrimental than a competitive advantage long term. Participating in multiple sports allows an athlete to acquire a variety of skills and experience different environments that will transfer as the athlete further develops and chooses his or her primary sport. Single sport specialization is advantageous as an athlete develops fundamental skills and adapts to optimal windows of trainability. The best time to specialize in a single sport is around 15 years old. At this time an athlete is physically and mentally prepared for higher training volume. At this age the athlete is more than able to make up for time NOT spent in early specialization.


Get Stronger with Progressive Overload

Get Stronger with Progressive Overload

Have you experienced training plateaus that caused your strength gains to become stagnant? I often hear people tell me they lift 5 days a week but are not seeing results or strength gains. There are several reasons why you may hit training plateaus, but ultimately it boils down to the progressive overload principle.

What is Progressive Overload and Why is It Important?

Simply put, progressive overload is the concept of doing more over time. This principle involves increasing the demands on the musculoskeletal system to continually make gains in muscle size, strength, and muscular endurance. When we strength train our bodies elicit a stress response that causes an adaptation to take place. This results in our muscles become stronger and more resilient. In order keep making muscle gains and increase strength, you must continually increase the demands on your muscles.

The progressive overload principle doesn’t apply only to lifting weights to increase muscle growth and strength; it can also be applied to cardiovascular fitness programs. Increasing the intensity and duration will cause physiological changes affecting aerobic metabolism and the cardiorespiratory system.

Progressive Overload Methods

There are five key ways to implement progressive overload. Each are uniquely different. Based on your training experience and your goals, you want to be strategic with how you increase or decrease one of these methods. Below are ways you can implement progressive overload.

Increase Load – The amount of weight used or demand on you body

Increase Intensity – The amount of perceived exertion, speed, or force used during a specific exercise or workout.

Increase volume – Your total workload per training session. The amount of exercises, sets, and reps you do in a workout.  

Increase frequency – how many times a day or week you train

Decrease rest time between sets – This involves increasing work density meaning doing the same amount of work in less time, or doing more work in the same time.

How to Implement Progressive Overload Into Your Programing?

Let’s say you perform a set of back squats at 80% of your max for 8 reps which happens to be 225lbs. Over time, you’ll get stronger, and 8 reps won’t be as challenging as it once was.  At this point your body is no longer making any physiological adaptations. This is where we can apply our progressive overload methods.

If you continue performing that single set of back squats at 225lbs for 8 repetitions, without increasing frequency, intensity, or load, you will hit a plateau eventually. When that occurs depends on your training age (amount of time or years you have been training) and experience. However, if you place greater demands on your back squat by either increasing weight, volume, frequency, or intensity, you will continue to progress with your strength gains.

Strength gains are not linear. For example, adding 5-10lbs to an exercise each week is not sustainable over a year. That would be an increase of 260-520 pounds in one year which is extremely unrealistic. Adaptation and gains occur in waves. Some weeks you’ll see big jumps in and others you may even decrease but with proper implementation of the overload principle there should be an upward trend with consistent training, proper form, and quality recovery.

Beginners should progress in strength exercises by mastering technique and full range of motion first. After this they should increase volume, frequency, and load. Advanced lifters should focus on increasing load first, intensity seconds, and then volume. Again, the techniques you use should be in line with your fitness goals. Prioritize what’s important to you.


Dreams are Nothing Without This.

Do you ever have this grand idea and then begin to think about all the steps you need to take in order to reach that goal?  Does it ever seem overwhelming?  Let’s take losing weight as an example.  The dream is losing 20lbs.  When you think about losing 20lbs, you may start to think of all the steps you need to do to get there.  And then it begins to become very overwhelming thinking about prepping food and working out and eating right and meal prepping. It begins to appear cumbersome.  And this may become so staggering that you end up giving up before starting.   Or when you do start, you don’t see results right away, which can get frustrating and then you’re stuck in the starting over and over again cycle.  

Sometimes, dreaming about something gets in the way of the action part.  That is why it is better to be slightly detached from our expectations and to pay more attention to the actions themselves.  So, how do you focus more on the actions?  Here’s 5 ways to become more action driven: 

  1. Create a daily list.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many things on your to-do list, but make a list of 5 major things you want to accomplish that day that will help you succeed in your overall goals.  Focus on one small task after the next, which will give you a more simplified action plan.     
  2. Have faith in the work that you do and be humble enough to ask for help.  Make a commitment and have faith that your daily commitment will get you to your goals.    
  3. Believe that you can achieve your goals.  If you don’t believe in that goal, you’ll never accomplish what you initially set out to do.  Set your dreams high, but truly believe that you can achieve these dreams.  
  4. Detach yourself from the steps you think you need to take in order to achieve your dreams.  Do you ever start to tell yourself “well, I have to get here before I can get there.”  There are no rules set by the universe saying you have to take a certain path in order to achieve your goals, so let go of these expectations.  
  5. Create a positive environment.  This will allow you to achieve your dreams.  Surround yourself with people who believe in you as well.  

In conclusion, we want you to dream big!  But, make sure each and every day you are supporting your overall dream by taking it into action!  


Why You Should Adopt A Growth Mindset

Have you ever wondered why elite athletes achieve greater success in their respective sport compared to everyone else? What separates Lebron James from Gerald Green? Tom Brady from Tony Romo, Serena Williams from Lauren Davis? You  might  think their physical ability is what separates them, and you might be right if we were comparing these great athletes to you or I. But physical ability is not the differentiating factor for professional athletes.. According to Dr. David Hesse Sports Scientist in Psychology, the biggest disparity between good and great athlete success, is their mindset. 

What Does It Mean to Be an Athlete?

You may or may not consider yourself an “athlete” but adopting the mindset of an elite athlete can help you in all aspects of your life. Webster defines an athlete as “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina”. I think of an athlete as someone working towards a specific fitness or performance based goal. Being an athlete is more than just the physical component that defines you; it includes your mental game as well. 

Growth Mindset

The concept of a growth mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck. A mindset, according to Dweck, is a self-perception or “self-theory” that you have about yourself. Believing that you are either “talented” or “not talented” is an example of a mindset. You may be aware or unaware of your mindsets, according to Dweck, but they can have profound effect on learning achievement, skill acquisition, personal relationships, professional success, and many other dimensions of life. 

There are two distinct mindsets, “fixed” and “growth”. According to Dweck, “In a fixed mindset, you believe your abilities are simply fixed traits. People with this mindset don’t spend time developing their abilities. They also believe that talent alone creates success without effort.

If you have a growth mindset,  you believe your abilities can be developed through dedication, hard work, intelligence and talent.  . This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. If you embrace the growth mindset you will accomplish more, accomplish your goals quicker and view challenges and failures as opportunities to improve your abilities and skills.

Separating Good from Great 

The greatest athletes in the world have a growth mindset. One thing they all have in common is they “buy in” to the process of what it takes to truly maximize talent and their abilities. Every detail of their day is planned and strategic to make them better in some way shape or form from the day before.  They are trying to maintain the highest level of performance for as long as possible. You may not be Lebron James, Tom Brady, or Serena Williams, but we can all look at what they do that makes them great, and apply it to our own lives and personal situations. Whether you’re looking to make a team, reach a fitness goal, or just striving to be your best self, adopting a growth mindset will allow you to maximize your abilities and potential so you can accomplish your goals, dreams, and aspirations. 


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