- Hydration- Hydration is very important for the body, especially when you are physically active. The body is made up of about 60% water, and we sweat during intense exercise, so it is important to stay hydrated to replenish the nutrients lost. Water also helps to lubricate the joints and keep vital organs functioning optimally. The general rule is that men should be drinking at least 96 fl. Oz. of water, while women should drink at least 75 fl. Oz. daily. Of course, this varies from person to person. If the goal is to lose weight or if you are extremely active, you may need to consume more water. Failure to hydrate properly can lead to dehydration, which can have a negative affect on your performance. Dehydration can cause headaches, muscle cramps, tense muscles, and stiff joints. Dehydration coupled with high-intensity exercise could lead to injury. Hydration is very important to the recovery process so make sure you are drinking enough water.
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- Nutrition- Along with hydration, nutrition is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eating the right types of foods and the proper portions is important to a balanced diet. According to the CrossFit Journal, your diet should consist of lean meats, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and zero sugar and processed foods. Each meal should be 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein, and 30% fat, according to the Zone Diet. Additionally, it is more beneficial to your metabolism to eat 5-6 smaller portioned meals, 2-3 hours apart, than to eat 3 larger meals each day. These general rules along with proper hydration will help to promote a healthy lifestyle and help improve athletic performance.
- Sleep- Getting enough sleep is another important aspect in aiding recovery and boosting performance. It is recommended that you get between seven and nine hours of sleep daily. Also, it is important to get REM sleep, as it is the restorative phase of your sleep cycle. If you have trouble getting this sleep in at night, a nap during the day may help to fill some of the time needed. Certain conditions such as insomnia or sleep apnea may affect sleeping patterns, which can in-turn, affect daily performance and training. It is important to seek medical help to try to fix sleep issues, as sleep is a crucial part of the recovery process.
- Mobility- Keeping the body supple and limber is important for the body, especially with age. As we become older, especially when we are inactive, we become less mobile and daily tasks may become more difficult. Improving and maintaining mobility should be a part of any exercise program. Stretching and using techniques such as self-myofascial release (SMR or foam rolling) should be a part of your daily routine if you are physically active. For every hour of activity, there should be 20-30 minutes spent on mobility work. Additionally, proper warm-ups should include mobility exercises that take your body through a range of motion similar to the upcoming tasks and exercises. For example, if your workout is going to consist of a high volume of squats, your warm-up should include mobility exercises that target the hips, knees, and ankles, as well as the hamstrings and glutes. After the workout, these same areas should be focused on with mobility exercises that will aid in recovery and help prevent injury.
- Mental toughness- There is a lot to be said about the mental aspect of high intensity training. It is physically demanding, and sometimes, a little overwhelming. Putting yourself in the right frame-of-mind to get after your workout can be challenging. One thing that has helped me personally has been taking each part of my training one piece at a time. Instead of looking at my training schedule as a whole, I focus on each individual task, complete that task, and then move on to the next one. Another thing that has helped is thinking about how privileged I am to be able to train and do all of the things that I am physically capable of doing. What I mean by this is that there are many people out there that do not have the opportunity to do a lot of the things that I am able to do. Whether it be because of physical limitations, lack of access, or a lack of guidance and education, some people do not have the same opportunities to workout like I am able to. I am very fortunate to be able to do all of the things that my body is capable of. The last thing that I do to mentally prepare myself to train is to realize that I am only competing against myself. The moment I start focusing on what those around me are doing, is the moment when my workout is no longer mine, and it is no longer fun. Above all else, training should be enjoyable, because if it is not, then why do it. Whatever strategy works for you, or whatever you have got to tell yourself, changing your thought process and mentally preparing yourself for training can go a long way.
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