5 SIMPLE WAYS TO IMPROVE HEALTH AND PERFORMANCE
Updated: Oct 2, 2018
1. EAT BREAKFAST: There is a plethora of research and data around, showing that people who eat breakfast each day are significantly leaner than those that don’t. Eating breakfast kick starts your metabolism and has been shown to decrease cortisol levels hugely (the hormone which tells your body to store fat). Everything your mother use to say to you about breakfast being the most important meal of the day is true! Getting up 5 minutes earlier is all it takes.
2. INCLUDE MORE SOFT TISSUE WORK: This may be one of the simplest things anybody can do to improve movement quality and generally feel better. Most people still only stretch and believe this to be the only thing for increasing range of motion and flexibility. However what this doesn’t improve is tissue quality. Stretching all day long won’t take care of the knots, trigger points and scar tissue that build up in our muscles from things like weight training, running and even sitting at a desk all day. Without good tissue quality optimal movement and a full range of motion will be very hard to come by. An analogy of this would be to use a rubber band. If a knot is tied in a rubber band, further pulling of the band (e.g. static stretching) will only make the knot tighter and tighter. Eventually the band will break either above or below the knot, in a similar fashion to what happens when we suffer a muscle strain.
Using a foam roller or even a tennis ball can go a long way in helping improve tissue quality. Breaking up those knots and scar tissue areas will instantly improve flexibility without even stretching.
3. TRAIN YOUR POSTERIOR CHAIN (BACK OF BODY): Training the back section of your body can provide huge positives for everything from improved posture to increased performance. As more and more professions include work at a desk or behind a steering wheel poor posture is becoming more and more noticeable. In particular it is easier to find people with rounded shoulders and anteriorly tilted pelvis’ than ever before.
By focusing on strengthening the backside of the body, in particular the hamstrings, the glutes, the “core” and the mid-upper back and stretching/foam rolling the front side, this can go a long way to eleviating these problems. Not only will this improve posture and function but it will also increase strength in many of the largest and most powerful muscles in the body; namely the glutes and hamstrings (As a side note guess where all the force is transferred by the body? The hips. Strength and power are derived by loading the hips and then transferring it to the extremities so glute strength is hugely important!). This will have a profound effect upon athletic performance whether it be for tennis, squash or running a 10k. (Most people don’t mind nice backsides as well so this is a great way to get one whilst improving many other functions!)
4. INCLUDE SINGLE LEG TRAINING: Most people do very little, if any, single leg training. Through ignorance or lack of knowledge most people don’t see the benefits of single leg strength work so with that in mind here are a few quick points to persuade you otherwise: * Single leg training helps alleviate any asymmetries that are evident between the right and left side (everybody has them). This helps bring both legs up to speed keeping weaknesses and imbalances to a minimum. * Single leg training brings all the stabilizing muscles of the hips and legs up to speed by forcing you to do exactly that; stabilize. The hip adductors/abductors simultaneously have to fire to stabilize the Femur and this is a good thing as everything is forced to work together for the body to move efficiently. This also creates body awareness and improves balance and coordination. * From an injury prevention standpoint, single leg training is invaluable. Several research articles suggest that anterior knee pain is directly associcated with a weak or inhibited glute medius (hip abductor). Bring it up to speed and reduce the chances of knee pain. Every sport ends up being performed on one leg at some stage. Athletes are constantly competing on one leg (Running, changing direction, jumping up and down etc) so some form of single leg training has to be included.
5. INCLUDE MORE INTERVAL TRAINING: Including more interval training can have a profound effect upon whichever goal you’re persuing. This type of training predominatly invloves upping the intensity by increasing the speed of an activity for a pre-determined amount of time before dropping back down to a slower pace to recover before repeating for a desired number of repetitions. Training in this manner is ideal for athletes wanting to improve performance as well as fat loss individuals wanting to improve their body composition. The benefits of this approach are many: * Train different energy systems rather than just one. This is a great thing for most sports including tennis and squash as they predominatly don’t take place through only the aerobic system.
* Create a greater “afterburn” (EPOC in geek language) which keeps metabolism elevated and continues to burn a higher than normal number of calories once exercise is stopped (some research shows metabolic rate can stay elevated for up to 8 hours after training has finished). * Burn more calories in a shorter space of time. * Stimulate both fast and slow twitch muscle fibres, again burning more total calories. * Add variety to the boredom of steady state cardio.