Every athlete strives to improve their performance and gain an edge on their competition. To become the best athletes possible, we must prepare ourselves both physically and mentally. With the ongoing developments in fitness training and preparation techniques, enhancing athletic performance is easier today than ever, and competitors are achieving unprecedented results from habits that are proven to work over time. Below are five simple ways that Nimai Delgado, IFBB Pro and co-founder of Vedge Nutrition, improves his athletic performance to reach his goals.
Keeping our minds sharp and our spirits calm is a surefire way to achieve success in any endeavor. Adopting simple meditation techniques can help us in numerous ways to improve athletic performance. Research has found that meditation can help rebuild and lengthen telomeres, which are the parts of cells that are crucial for helping slow down the aging process. One meta-study discovered: “Across controlled studies, mindfulness meditation appears to improve physical health symptoms and functioning across a variety of disorders, and increases measures of mental health, including reduced negative affect and increased quality of life.”
Meditation can help blunt the stress response from both emotional triggers and physical activity. Reducing oxidative stress helps preserve our muscles and balance our endocrine systems to keep our hormones in check. Keeping our minds sharp and calm is an important part of the overall package of a successful athlete.
Getting adequate amounts of sleep is paramount not only for athletic performance, but also cognitive ability. Prioritizing sleep is one of the most important things we can do to improve all areas of performance, and while most adults need roughly 7-9 hours of sleep to function normally, younger athletes may need up to 10 hours of sleep a day.
Sleep deprivation and even minimal amounts of sleep restriction have been consistently shown to impair accuracy in athletic events, whereas accuracy has been found to improve after sleep extension. Practicing good “sleep hygiene” every night can include setting a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime/pre-bedtime routine, keeping our rooms cool and comfortable, unplugging from our devices before bed, and avoiding caffeine late in the day.
Sleep can be just as crucial as consuming the right nutrients or doing the right workouts. It’s a vital part of replenishing our energy levels and preparing for our next workout, so not giving proper time to rest only calls for slow performance and a greater risk of injury.
Stretching can undoubtedly help increase our flexibility and range of motion while also reducing our risk of injury. It improves our posture and even helps with stress release. Mixing dynamic stretching (active movements that help prepare our muscles for exercise) with static stretches (holding a stretch for 10 to 30 seconds) can significantly increase our general mobility.
Aside from the immediate and most obvious benefit of improving flexibility and range of motion, there are quite a number of other benefits that regular, consistent stretching brings. These include freedom and ease of movement (bending, reaching and turning further), a reduction in aches, pains and stiff, tight muscles and joints, a reduction in the susceptibility to soft tissue injuries like muscle and tendon strains, improved posture, and better blood circulation.
Preparing for exercise can often be a step that some miss, but taking advantage of this time can exponentially boost our performance. Eating the wrong things like fried or sugary foods beforehand can cause sluggishness and fatigue. On the other hand, consuming easily digestible carbs like rice cakes, fats like peanut butter, or just a simple banana can help keep our energy levels up and our bodies satiated throughout a workout.
In addition to proper nutrition, consuming a pre-workout supplement is another way to increase our energy and optimize performance. They typically come in powder form that easily mix with water, and are proven to increase anaerobic exercise (like weightlifting) or endurance exercise (like cardio). The safety of such a supplement is of paramount importance, and both Vedge Pre-workout and Nitro Pump are clinically dosed with the best plant-based ingredients available. With trademarked ingredients like elevATP, NitroRocket, S7, and Infinergy, these supplements allow us to train harder and longer when taken 30-60 minutes before exercise sessions.
After long grueling workouts - day in and day out - we must refuel our bodies with proper nutrition to continue to grow and develop. Some of the best nutrients for post-workout recovery should come in the form of whole foods, which help to reduce inflammation, replace glycogen stores for future workouts, and repair muscle damage.
There is a 24 hour window for replacing glycogen stores after a long workout, which is why it’s best to eat high glycemic index carbs like rice, potatoes, watermelon and bagels. More than likely, these glycogen stores will need to be topped off for the next training session so that we are, once again, starting our workouts on a full tank of high-quality fuel.
In addition to carbs, approximately 10 to 20 grams of high quality lean protein following our workouts is recommended. For instance, one cup of black beans provides about 15 grams of protein, plus another 40 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams of fiber. Black beans also provide antioxidants that help repair muscle damage. Other quality sources of protein may include nut butters like almond butter or sunflower seed butter, or high-quality protein powders like Vedge Plant Protein. A whole foods smoothie with kale, mixed berries, seeds and protein powder can offer a plethora of benefits including reduced inflammation, bone-building properties, and heart health.
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