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Training Tips for Athletes

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Updated May 03, 2005

  1. Match Your Abilities and Interests:
    You have to enjoy your training program or you probably won’t stick with it long enough to see results. Rather than picking a generic program or doing what your friends do, adjust your workout time and intensity so it fits your lifestyle, and your current fitness level and allows you push yourself as needed. Most importantly, find a workout routine that meets your personal goals. If you don’t know where to begin, working with a personal trainer is highly recommended, but it’s also a great way to fine tune your fitness plan if you are more advanced.
  2. Simplify:
    Training is largely about consistency and focus. While a technical training program of heart rates, charts and graphs works for the most dedicated athletes, it may not be necessary for you. If you are feeling overwhelmed, simplify your training to hard and easy or long and short workouts and practice skills needed in your sport. Beyond that, try to enjoy your workouts and listen to your body.
  3. Avoid Overtraining:
    Allowing your body to rest is as important as building strength and endurance. You don’t get stronger by constantly training hard. You’ll build fitness by alternating workouts with recovery. The best way to avoid overtraining is to listen to your body. If your heart rate remains elevated after a night’s rest, if your legs feel heavy, and your motivation fades, you may need more rest. For those who train year-round, it’s wise to take a week off every three months. This is also the time to change up your routine. Read more about the symptoms of overtraining.
  4. Variation:
    Vary your workouts, pace, and intensity to enjoy a well-rounded fitness routine that is less likely to result in burn-out or plateaus. Alternate training intensity and time from day to day. No matter what your pace or goal, your training program should include a mix of training days. Even the most best training programs will gradually lose efficiency if you don’t vary your routine. This may be fine for those who simply want to maintain fitness or keep healthy, but if you want to improve, you need variation. Ideally, workouts should be modified every month. Cross Training is another great way to vary your routine and improve you fitness.
  5. Be Flexible:
    If you have to miss a training day, don’t worry, just continue on your training plan. It’s the consistency or your training, rather than one particular workout that is important
  6. Set Realistic Goals:
    You may want to set a personal best in every race you enter, but it’s probably not realistic. Be honest about your current fitness and you potential. You may want to run a marathon next year, but if you don’t have time to train more than an hour three times per week, that goal is not realistic. It’s important to find a balance between what you want and what you’re able to do. If your new to a sport or fitness routine, be conservative in your estimates until you know what you can accomplish, otherwise you are more prone to injury. Read more about Motivation and Goal-Setting for Exercise
  7. Be Patient:
    It takes time and consistency to build up fitness and performance, so avoid falling into the more is always better mindset. You’ll only end up injured, or frustrated.
  8. Be Consistent:
    Even if you're starting with very short workouts, it's important to do them on a regular basis, several days a week. Avoid falling victim to the weekend warrior syndrome of working out long and hard only weekends and doing nothing for during the week. Injuries are much more common for those who are inconsistent with exercise.
  9. Nutrition is Critical :
    Eating well and hydrating goes a long way to improve your ability to exercise and train. If you are on a regular exercise routine, it’s a good time to reassess your eating habits and learn nutritious ways eating. Complex carbohydrates provide the best source of energy for sustained exercise. Read more about Sports Nutrition and about Hydration Needs.
  10. Use Proper Equipment:
    No matter what sport or exercise routine you do, you need to make sure your equipment and footwear fits properly. Running in worn-out shoes increases injuries, as does riding an ill-fitting bicycle. Pads, helmets, mouth guards are made to help protect athletes and all appropriate sports safety equipment should be worn and fit you well. Learn more about sports injury prevention.
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