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Disciplined Fitness Regimen Coupled With Balanced Dietary Programme Is The Key To Athletes’ Success
Athletes are considered the benchmark for optimal levels of personal fitness. What makes their fitness so enviable and desirable by non-athletes like you and me? It is their strict daily routine that sets them apart from the rest: from waking up early in the morning to going to bed at night and again leaving the comfortable beds the next morning remains part of the athletes’ daily routine. But maintaining a disciplined routine is not everyone’s cup of tea. It requires a high degree of commitment and passion to achieve the ultimate level of fitness through daily training. This drive comes from the dispensation towards achieving the goals that athletes set for themselves. And what is the most cherished and admired goal of the athletes? Regardless of the nation or the sports athletes they represent, they always aim to achieve the ultimate glory at the Olympic Games and the respective World Championships. The greatest achievers of all time are the strictest adherents to a disciplined training schedule. Mark Spitz, Usain Bolt, Nadia Comaneci, Mohammad Ali, Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan and other famous athletes become what they are known for because of a well-organized daily routine. Taking you on a journey of fitness and health imperatives for the athletes by looking into the regimens of a few famous athletes, this article discusses the importance of daily routines that athletes follow to stay in shape to achieve their sporting dreams.
What could be an ideal daily routine for the athletes? To find the answer to this question, we must delve deeper into the subject and make an insightful investigation. But in the quest to find the answer, there is a risk of making sweeping generalizations. This is why questioners often make the mistake of not distinguishing between the different sporting goals, and they often link success, most prominently, to the degree of fitness level. Nevertheless, they are right to some extent, but remain ignorant that competition in various sports requires specialized training to acquire the right skills and specific body strength. Natalie Rizzo, a health, nutrition and fitness blogger at nutricisedr.com, writes in a January blog post referring to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi: “What we don’t always think about is that athletes from the various sports the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi have different goals that lead to very different training and eating regimens.” She further adds, “Some sports require speed, while other sports focus on power and distance. Some athletes benefit from being lean, while others find it beneficial to bulk up and increase their power.”
Clearly, the analysis of Rizzo shows that there is no universal fitness regimen for all athletes. The nature of fitness regimes is determined by the goals athletes pursue in the national and international sporting events. A sprinter like Usain Bolt would follow a markedly different everyday life than a shot put athlete like Ulf Timmerman or David Storl. The skills that these players possess or want to achieve shape their daily training regime. Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest sprinter, would focus on training programs that lead to increased endurance, muscle strength especially in the lower limbs, controlled breathing, jumping and so on. On the other hand, shot put players would aim to increase their shoulder and forearm strengths, momentum building before the throw, physical balance inside the throwing circle and similar skills.
Daily exercises and training
Despite the specialized training for different sports, commonalities can be found in the daily regime of athletes of all genres. A few general workouts and exercises followed by athletes may include:
- Basic fitness training
- Strength training
- Run & Walk
- Stretching exercises
- Training to build endurance
- Breathing exercises.
Examples from different sports fields
There are a number of global trainers and fitness experts who have suggested a daily fitness regimen to be followed by athletes representing various sports. Among them is a professional coach, George Payan, who coaches sprinters. Payan maintains an online coaching resource, http://www.coacheseducation.com, where he has detailed the daily workouts of various types of athletes. To give an example, he has outlined a comprehensive everyday life for the 400 meter sprinters. From Monday, Payan has detailed the training for each day for the weak with periodic rest days.
Michael Phelps, the famous swimmer and record holder for the most Olympic gold, eclipsing former record holder Mark Spitz in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, follows a strict daily routine. Although there are some special qualities unique to Phelps that set him apart from the average male adult, he still works hard six days a week. Describing its natural features, Jonathan P. Wade writes in Motley Health:
“Phelps is 6 feet 4 in tall and weighs about 185 pounds (84 kg). He has a size 14 feet and an arm span of 6 feet 7 inches, which is 3 inches longer than his height. He has relatively short legs for his height, giving him an added advantage in the pool. Also, his knees are double-jointed, and his feet can rotate 15 degrees more than average, allowing them to be fully straightened, allowing his mighty feet to act as flippers. These genetic advantages help him to kick off the wall and propel himself dolphin like 10m before he actually has to swim.”
Despite these attributes, Phelps’ daily routine includes six hours of swimming, or 8 miles, per day. He usually hits the pool at 6.30 every morning and swims six days a week including public holidays. In addition to his swimming regimen, he also follows a weight lifting regimen where he spends about an hour 3 days a week along with an hour three days a week stretching his muscles. Phelps has earned the name “the human dolphin” for his superb swimming ability.
The Phelps Diet
Michael Phelps consumes 12,000 calories every day. His breakfast includes:
- Three fried egg sandwiches topped with cheese
- Fried onions
Usain Bolt, another quintessential athlete and role model for aspiring young athletes in the profession, is also a tough coach like Phelps. Although Bolt is also a naturally gifted athlete, he follows a strict regimen to maintain his agility and lightning speed. Bolt is the current world record holder in the 100m and 200m sprint categories in the Olympics.
Bolt’s typical daily routine includes:
- Weighted Lunges with heavy dumbbells
- Weighted squats
- Cable leg drive
- Explosive step-ups with weighted barbell
- Bunny Hops / Box Jumps
- Frog jump
- Ankle rollers
- Jump with high knees
In addition to the aforementioned workouts, Usain Bolt’s daily regimen also includes flexibility and sprinting exercises. Bolt trains intensively for 3 hours a day followed by rest, massage and relaxation to ensure full recovery before the next session.
A typical diet for Usain Bolt includes high energy meals containing 60% protein, 30% carbohydrates and 10% fat. He consumes about 196 grams of muscle-building protein each day.
The above brief discussion shed some light on the athletes’ daily routines, including the diet plans. But there is more to just maintaining a perfect physique for participating in national and international competitions. In addition to physical agility and strength, sound mental health is also an imperative to sustain a long career in athletics. According to Marv Zauderer, who is a licensed psychotherapist in San Francisco, USA, who works with amateur and professional athletes from all sports, emphasizes the importance of mental fitness to achieve peak performance. According to Marv, a lack of mental fitness creates psychological barriers for athletes to achieve their optimal performance.
“Self-doubt, nerves, insecurity, frustration, distractions, hesitation, fear, intimidation – all of these are obstacles to accessing your full physical potential. The body you work so hard to train can in an instant become derailed by a limitation in mental fitness. But what does “mental fitness” really mean? The effortless integration of body and mind working in harmony to create a sense of flow, of being in the elusive zone? Well, yes, that is a glorious experience when (if!) it happens, and working on your mental skills makes it much more likely to happen.”
Another expert, Jesse Kropelnicki (to learn more about Jesse Kropelnicki, check out his blog http://www.kropelnicki.com), who provides professional coaching to triathletes like Marv, holds mental fitness on a high pedestal.
“Just as optimal physical fitness is highly personal, so is mental fitness.”
As opinions from experts claim that mental fitness is as important as physical fitness, the athletes should also include some mental training regimen in their daily routine to overcome psychological limitations while competing at the highest level. They can do yoga, acrobatic exercises, dance or meditation to maintain sound mental health.
Just like professionals in any other field, athletes are also required to follow a disciplined daily routine to achieve their ambitions in their respective sports. A famous quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes thus states: Success is not the position where you stand, but the direction you go.” This is evident from the quote by Wendell Holmes, the stagnant factor that people often fall prey to after achieving a fair bit of success; you have to keep moving forward to add milestone after milestone. It has been observed quite often that when people achieve something, they tend to become complacent, which in turn hampers the secret behind their success, which is a disciplined daily routine.
Therefore, it is imperative for the athletes to follow a strict daily routine. Undoubtedly, they will be faced with distractions, but they need to build a strong mental setup to stay on strong footing. Another factor that sometimes puts a psychological barrier to athletes’ willingness to adhere to a strict routine is the lack of motivation. At times, they would feel low inside and lose the will to work optimally. In such a scenario, they could boost their morale by reading biographies of a successful sportsperson or watching movies of courage and glory. In these hours of crisis, their mental coaches have a vital role to play in rejuvenating their inner desires to compete and succeed.
The coaches can motivate them through anecdotes or their personal life experiences. A lively and humorous environment can also prove to be very practical in solving the problems. There can be a number of reasons for athletes’ lack of motivation: family problems, fights with a friend/boyfriend or other stress-related problems. These can be resolved through the timely intervention of psychological experts. When faced with such problems, it would be better for the athletes to fix them before they snowball into bigger problems. Once the athletes regain their lost composure, they should start the training and training programs and gradually achieve the maximum regimen as part of their normal daily routine. Therefore, an ideal daily routine also offers mental strength building in addition to physical training and a good diet plan.
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