Complete Guide to Becoming an Elite Athlete

Welcome to the Complete Guide to Becoming an Elite Athlete. My name is Rakim Anim (Coach Rak) founder of N1 Motion. As a Professional Performance Coach serving hundreds of athletes at all levels, from youth to the pros, my team and I have developed a complete guide to becoming an elite athlete. This manual is designed to educate athletes, coaches, and parents on what it takes to become an ELITE athlete and how to maximize athletic potential to accomplish personal goals and play at the highest level possible. 

In this guide we will cover the following topics:

  1. Multi-Sport vs Sport Specific Athletic Training 
  2. Psyche of ELITE Athletes 
  3. How to Use Self Talk to Build ELITE Confidence 
  4. Unlock ELITE Potential with Effect Performance Training 
  5. Fueling for Optimal Performance 
  6. Recovery is Everything 
  7. Get Laser Focused with Goal Setting

At N1 Motion we are dedicated to empowering all athletes to accomplish their fitness and performance goals while maximizing their athletic potential. We hope you are able to take tangible information away from this guide that will empower you to reach personal success!

Multi-Sport vs Sport Specific Athletic Training

With more and more club teams and “elite” youth programs popping up in sports, there is a lot of pressure for athletes and parents to “specialize” in one sport year-round instead of participating in multiple sports throughout the year. Is one option better to become an elite athlete or do both have an equal chance of helping athletes stay healthy and optimize their opportunity to maximize their potential?

It is not uncommon for coaches, parents, and athletes to believe that specializing in a sport at an early age is the secret ingredient to becoming a world-class athlete,  especially when you consider the success of athletes like Tiger Woods and Rafael Nadal, who excelled in their sports at an early age. However, research exploring elite athlete development suggests that athletes that specialize early and succeed at the highest level, are the exception to the rule, not the rule itself.

There is also a myth that participating in many different sports is not advantageous in advancing an athletes’ ability. Athletes are able to develop a variety of skills by playing multiple sports that will eventually transfer over to their primary sport. In fact, researchers have found elite athletes spent less time training in their primary sport before the age of 15 compared to their less successful peers. 

A sports scientist by the name of Istvan Balyi created the Long Term Athletic Development model (LTAD). This model is a framework for an optimal training, competition, and recovery schedule for each stage of athletic development. Coaches who engage in the model and its practices are more likely to produce athletes who reach their full athletic potential. The principles of this research have been adopted by youth athletic associations globally as the framework for proper management of youth and adolescent growth and development processes. It also identified the critical periods of accelerated adaptation to training. 

When considering which is better multi-sport vs. sport specific, it’s important to evaluate the long term effects of each scenario. Specializing in a single sport early can lead to problematic injuries, overtraining, and burnout. Although there are short term benefits to specialization, such as getting more repetition; doing this early on is more detrimental than a competitive advantage long term. Participating in multiple sports allows an athlete to acquire a variety of skills and experience different environments that will transfer as the athlete further develops and chooses his or her primary sport. Single sport specialization is advantageous as an athlete develops fundamental skills and adapts to optimal windows of trainability. The best time to specialize in a single sport is around 15 years old. At this time an athlete is physically and mentally prepared for higher training volume. At this age the athlete is more than able to make up for time NOT spent in early specialization. 

Psyche of ELITE Athletes 

Have you ever wondered why elite athletes achieve greater success in their respective sport compared to everyone else? What separates Lebron James from Gerald Green? Tom Brady from Tony Romo, Serena Williams from Lauren Davis? Now, you may be thinking their physical ability is what separates them, and you may be right if we were comparing the great’s to you or I. But, that is not the case when comparing them to their pears. According to Dr. David Hesse Sports Scientist in Psychology, the biggest disparity between good and great athlete success, is their mindset. 

Growth Mindset

The concept of a growth mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck. A mindset, according to Dweck, is a self-perception or “self-theory” that you have about yourself. Believing that you are either “talented” or “not talented” is an example of a mindset. You may be aware or unaware of your mindsets, according to Dweck, but they can have a profound effect on learning achievement, skill acquisition, personal relationships, professional success, and many other dimensions of life. 

There are two distinct mindsets “fixed” and “growth.” According to Dweck, “In a fixed mindset you believe your abilities are simply fixed traits.” People with this mindset don’t spend time developing their abilities. They also believe that talent alone creates success without effort.

If you have a growth mindset, then you believe your abilities can be developed through dedication, hard work, intelligence and talent. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. If you embrace the growth mindset you will accomplish more, accomplish your goals more quickly, and view challenges and failures as opportunities to improve your abilities and skills

The greatest athletes in the world have a growth mindset. One thing that they all have in common is they “buy in” to the process of what it takes to truly maximize talent and their abilities. Every detail of their day is planned and strategic to make them better in some way, shape, or form, than they were the day before. They are trying to maintain the highest level of performance for as long as possible. You may not be Lebron James, Tom Brady, or Serena Williams, but we can all look at what they do that makes them great and apply it to our own lives and personal situation. Whether your looking to make a team, reach a fitness goal, or just striving to be your best self, adopting a growth mindset will allow you to maximize your abilities and potential so you can accomplish your goals, dreams, and aspirations. 

How to Use Self Talk To Build ELITE Confidence

A huge part of motivation is what we tell ourselves, or self talk. Having positive self talk is key to success when it comes to achieving goals. According to expert neurologist we averaged 70,000 thoughts a day. These thoughts include both conscious and unconscious. Conscious thoughts are dictated by our surroundings and environment, along with past experiences. Our views, outlook on life, and perception of ourselves is determined by our different upbringings and life experiences. These experiences will dictate whether you have positive or negative self talk. 

Self-talk is the act of talking to yourself either out loud or mentally. The messages you tell yourself will encourage and motivate you, or they will limit you if they are negative. It’s important to recognize your inner voice so you can identify when you’re having positive or negative self talk.

Here is negative self talk that you want to avoid.

  • Mind reading: assuming we understand what other people are thinking without any real evidence.
  • Overgeneralization: the habit of telling ourselves that a negative event is bound to continue happening in the future.
  • Magnification: when we take our own errors or flaws and exaggerate them.
  • Minimization: the mirror image of magnification, being dismissive of our strengths and positive qualities.
  • Emotional reasoning: the habit of making decisions based on how we feel rather than what we value.
  • Personalization: assuming excessive amounts of responsibility, especially for things that are mostly or entirely outside our control.
  • Fortune Telling: the mental habit of predicting what will happen based on little or no real evidence.
  • Should Statements: a kind of self-talk we use to try and motivate ourselves by always telling ourselves what we should and should not do.

In order to combat negative self talk use these positive self talk strategies

  1. Have a purpose higher than yourself
  2. Cut negative people out of your life
  3. Be grateful
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others
  5. Use positivity with others
  6. Believe in your success
  7. Don’t fear failure
  8. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
  9. Positive affirmation
  10. Don’t dwell in the past
  11. Visualize your success
  12. Limit your intake of news and media
  13. Help others
  14. Be physically active
  15. Dream and set goals

When and how to be effective at self talk?

In order to be effective at self talk you must make it a habit. To start, every morning think of something that you are grateful for and give thanks. Then give yourself positive affirmations such as:

  •      I am determined and successful
  •      I am confident
  •      I am strong
  •      My life has meaning and purpose
  •      I am in control of my choices
  •      I am not afraid to fail because it will help me grow

How is self talk critical to building confidence?

Do you feel shy in front of a big audience? Do you have little belief in your talents and skills? Positive self-talk can make you feel more confident in these situations. Negative self-talk will hinder you from performing at your fullest by allowing doubt to come into your thoughts. With positive self-talk, you can put your doubts aside and focus on accomplishing the task. Confidence and success go hand in hand. Those who are successful at what they do, truly believe in themselves and their abilities.  Confidence is so important to success that many psychologists believe that it is one of the primary prerequisites to personal and professional success. Be confident in everything you do by lifting yourself up with positive self-talk.

Unlock ELITE Potential with Effect Performance Training 

Your athleticism is the foundation of your sport specific skill. Without some level of athleticism, athletes are not able to effectively execute the skills that their sport demands. As competition increases, this becomes even more apparent. Look at the difference between a D1 basketball player and a D2 or D3 basketball player. Although there may be slight differences in skills, the biggest difference between the level of play is the athleticism and genetics of a D1 players compared to a D2 or D3 player. D1 players are typically taller, longer, and more athletic.

So, if we know athletes with superior genetics have the competitive advantage, how do we level the playing field? In full transparency there are multiple factors that contribute to athleticism. Genetics is a huge factor in the way that your body stores and produces elastic energy which is responsible for your explosive power and strength. Other factors that contribute to your athleticism include movement efficiency, mobility, strength, and your central nervous system. Without getting too technical, there are factors that you can control that contribute to your overall athleticism, and there are factors that you cannot control, like genetics. The good news is, with proper training, you can maximize your personal capabilities with a sound comprehensive program. 

Comprehensive and Progressive Programing

I see a lot of performance programs that are based on random high volume routines that make athletes tired and leave them feeling depleted each workout. Although this type of training may get an athlete in shape short term, eventually this approach will cause training plateaus, burnout, or even injury. 

An effective sports performance program that is designed to maximize athleticism should be comprehensive and progressive. A comprehensive program is one that is detailed and touches on all aspects of athletic ability (mobility, stability, coordination, agility, speed, strength, power, cognitive ability, and restoration to prevent injury). Touching on all of these athletic qualities daily and or weekly will allow athletes to fill each bucket, which will then enhance overall athleticism that will transfer to sport activity. 

The other important aspect of an effective performance training program is progression. It is easy to get caught up in short term gains but unless an athlete plans to retire or quit in the next 3 months, it is extremely important to think about the big picture. You have to know and understand what is the long term goal and work backwards from there. If a 15 year old athlete aspires to play college sports but just started taking training seriously and doesn’t have much training experience, he or she has to focus on building a foundation of core strength, coordination, and mobility. The adage  “you can’t build a house on toothpicks,” couldn’t be more true in this situation. Learning proper technique and improving movement efficiency early on, will go a long way and will increase the ceiling of an athletes athletic potential if they lay the foundation properly and early on in the training stage. 

Once a foundation has been set, progressive overload is the key to long term sustained results. That means every 2-4 weeks there has to be an adjustment to the plan because our bodies are designed to adapt to stimulus. Once an adaptation occurs from completing a program consistently for 2- 4 weeks, the next phase of the program should increase volume (sets and reps), load (weight), or intensity (exercise selection or rest period). This same method should be followed with each new training phase in order to continue to progress toward maximizing athletic potential. 

Best approach to training

  • Improve coordination and movement efficiency (“can’t build a house on toothpicks”)
  • Develop work capacity and endurance
  • General strength
  • Max strength
  • Sport specific speed and power development 
  • Progressive overload

Fuel for Optimal Performance 

Elite athletes are finely-tuned machines, but without the right fuel even the most physically-gifted competitors don’t have what it takes to push themselves past the breaking point on guts and determination alone. That’s why proper nutrition is a cornerstone of elite performance, and why aspiring all-star athletes would do well to think about the food choices they make.  

Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are the three main suppliers of nutrients in our diet. These are known as macronutrients or “macros”. Macros play a vital role in our ability to perform at our peak level. Athletes can practice for hours but unless they fuel their bodies properly they will not reach their peak performance. Food is the fuel for our body to be able to get stronger, faster, recover, and perform. If you feel tired, sluggish, have a decrease in performance, always sore muscles, injuries that won’t heal, or a crash in the middle of game or practice; these are all signs that you are not fueling correctly. Below is a guide for building healthy macronutrients into your nutrition plan.

Protein

Protein is essential to building and repairing muscle to enhance strength and power. It is commonly found in animal products, although it is also present in other sources, such as nuts and legumes. 

Here are the benefits of consuming protein. 

  • Build and repair muscle tissue
  • Heal tissues/injuries
  • Building blocks of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. 
  • Keeps us full and satisfied

Protein Sources

  • Beef:Grass fed ground beef, bison, elk, venison, pork
  • Fish: Salmon, shrimp, tuna, scallops, halibut (or any white fish)
  • Poultry: Eggs, Chicken, Turkey (white or dark meat)
  • Dairy: Milk, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese, cheese
  • Beans: Beans (any variety? Or only specific ones) contain more protein than any other vegetable protein. Plus, they’re loaded with fiber that helps you feel full for hours.
  • Nuts/Seeds: One ounce of almonds gives you 6 grams of protein-almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chia/flax etc. 
  • Protein bars and Powders: Rx bar, Dales raw protein bars, bullet proof bars, oatmega bars, primal kitchen collagen bars, Epic or tanka meat bars

Aim to have a protein source at each meal (about 20-40g per meal).

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are sugars, starches, and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk products. Carbohydrates are very important to supplying energy for high performance during sport activities. There is a lot of information on carb-free diets, these are detrimental to an athlete. Carbs are the bodies preferred source of fuel. There are healthy and unhealthy carbs. Any carb that involves processed sugar would be a bad carb (cookies, cake, sugary cereal). 

Benefits of Carbs

  • Fuel training and help with recovery 
  • Preserves muscle and glycogen (fuel sources)
  • Helps with recovery to be ready to go for next game or practice

Best Carb Sources 

  • Whole grains:oats, quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, faro, couscous, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread
  • Fruits:Bananas great pre/post workout snack. Include a variety of fruits in your day
  • Vegetables:starchy-sweet potatoes, squash, parsnips, beets, potatoes, peas, corn. Non-starchy-broccoli, cauliflower, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, greens, asparagus etc. Make sure to have a veggie at every meal
  • Beans:Great source of fiber to help stay full and satisfied

Aim to have ~ 40 – 80g of carbohydrates per meal.

Fats

Although it gets a bad rap, fat is an important nutrient that the body needs in order to function. Eating the right amount and the right form of dietary fat is key to maintaining good health and performance. Fat plays a key role in sports performance because it functions as an energy reserve. 

  • Helps fuel your workouts during low intensity bouts
  • Primary fuel source at rest
  • Slow Digesting to keep you feeling full and satisfied longer 

Best Sources of fats

  • Nuts and seeds-1/4 cup is approximate serving. Include all varieties. 
  • Avocados
  • Dairy(2% or higher) Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, string cheese, milk, butter, ghee
  • Oils-extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil
  • Meats and fish-Wild salmon, grass fed beef, pork etc. 

Aim for ~7-12g of fat per meal.

Healthy Smoothie Recipes: These incorporate a protein, a carbohydrate, and a fat.

1 scoop of protein powder

1 fist of veggies (spinach works great)

1 Cup of berries

1-2 TBSP of nut or seed butter

8 oz Milk or unsweetened almond milk

Ice if desired 

            OR 

1 cup of Greek yogurt

1 big handful of spinach

1 banana

1-2 TBSP nut or seed butter

8oz of chocolate unsweetened almond milk

Balance is Key 

The key to optimal nutrition fueling is consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, and carbohydrates. You want to limit your consumption of refined processed carbs like sugary cereal, syrups, candy, cookies, etc., the less you have, the better. Aim for one meal every 2-4 hours to meet your daily caloric requirements. This may vary from person to person based on sex, age, weight, height, and activity level. 

Recovery is Everything 

As an athlete, it’s easy to get caught up in the barbells, sleds, and plyo boxes. While what you do in the gym is unbelievably important, taking care of your body when you’re not at the gym is equally as important. I have put together a list of 4 tips for maximum recovery to keep you at the top of your game.

Get Moving

One of the worst things you can do on your recovery days is to be a couch potato. When we workout, our body produces byproducts like lactic acid, pyruvate, and NADH+. These byproducts pool up and cause our muscles to be sluggish, slow and sore. In order for our body to get rid of these byproducts, it requires blood flow to carry them out of our muscles. A blood flow elevated above resting will help to drain these byproducts from our muscles and speed up recovery.

Tips for moving during a recovery day:

  • Go for a light jog/walk
    • Just get your heart rate up, don’t push it
  • Foam roll
    • Spend 20-30 seconds on each of the major muscles
    • Glutes/Hamstrings/Calves/Quads
    • Lats/Upper back/Pecs
  • Lacrosse ball
    • Spend some time isolating specific knots or trigger points
    • Place the lacrosse ball on the knot and slowly grind into it
  • Stretch
    • Stretch the major muscles. If you neglect mobility, over time you will develop pain and injuries because the muscles aren’t functioning the way they should.
    • Spend 20-30 seconds on each muscle
    • Dynamic stretching combined with a light jog/walk is a great combo
    • Try this 5 minute mobility routine

Eat Right

Proper fuel is absolutely essential for competitive athletes. In order for our bodies to function properly at the competition, they need fuel. Not only do they need fuel, they need the right fuel. Think of your body like a car. You could fill your car up with bleach and it would run … but not for long. If you’re filling your body with junk food and missing out on the right nutrients, your body won’t perform the way you want it to for very long.

Tips for improving your nutrition:

  • Portion size properly
  • Hydrate properly
  • Balance it out

Sleep

One of the biggest factors that significantly influences your body’s performance is sleep. Proper sleep has been shown to increase performance, motivation, concentration, and improve cognitive performance. While we are sleeping, our bodies go to work. During sleep, your body increases the hormone productions that lead to rebuilding muscles, increasing the tensile strength of your actin and myosin within the muscle fibers. It is recommended for athletes to get anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you are in the middle of pre-season or heavy training times, an extra hour is typically recommended. If you can’t manage to get that much sleep at night, naps can be a way to add up to that sleep total.

Tips for getting good sleep:

  • Get in a rhythm and stick to it! Plan ahead, finish homework/work in time that you can get to bed at a consistent time
  • Avoid being on your phone in bed, the stimulus will fight your body wanting to sleep
  • Avoid caffeine in the second half of the day

Get Laser Focused with Goal Setting

Have you ever set a goal and struggled to attain it? Goal setting is all about gaining clarity and breaking down your end goal into smaller goals. Goal setting is great for accountability and  productivity. Studies have shown that goal setting increases your productivity and success rate between 11 to 25 percent. So just by writing this stuff down and thinking; “OK what’s the desired outcome that I want and then what are the steps that I need to take to get there?” You’re going to be up to 25 percent more successful just by taking these actions when you set goals. 

Three keys for successful goal setting can be broken down into three separate sub goals, outcome goals, performance goals, and process goals. Breaking down your goals this way makes it easier to organize your thoughts and really wrap your head around what it is that you’re actually trying to accomplish and what you need to do to get there.

Outcome Goals

The number one question you want to ask yourself is what the main thing you want to accomplish is. What do you really want to get out of your goal? This will help you figure out what you want your outcome goal to be. Outcome goals are very binary and they’re hugely motivating. When most people set goals, this is the primary type we see. An example of this would be, make the all conference team. Or maybe you’re striving for some type of winning based goal like winning a championship, race, or all state honors.  

Outcome goals have a set time and specific outcome. Outcome goals are highly motivating and inspire us to accomplish what we want to achieve. The other two goal types helps create the blueprint to accomplish your outcome goal. 

Performance Goals

Outcome goals are the final destination. Performance goals are benchmarks or milestones that are going to help you along the way. Something you want to ask yourself; “what are the performance standards that are going to help you reach your desired outcome?” Performance based goals are just a standard, and like I said, these are benchmarks or milestones that tell you, you’re almost to your destination. These smaller measures of success are extremely important and give you the energy boost you need to continue working towards your outcome goal. If my outcome goal is to make the all conference team, averaging 21 points per game would be an example of a performance based goal. If I hit this smaller goal daily or weekly throughout the season, I will put myself in a good position to reach my outcome goal. 

So to keep on pace to make the all conference team, you need to rank amongst the best players in the conference. This means being dominant on a consistent basis and leading your team to a successful record along with individual achievements. As you can see, it’s just taking your outcome goal and then segmenting that down into smaller more digestible size performance goals that you can measure on a weekly, daily, or monthly schedule based on how far out your outcome goal is. That way, you can give yourself little measures of success that keep you motivated. If you only focus on outcome based goals and you don’t have these kind of more short term goals you’re going to lose sight and you might get steered off track.

Process Goal

As I mentioned before, the third goal is going to be process goals and these are my personal favorites. These are little daily reminders that you can give yourself to make sure that you stay on track.

Process goals are the most important of the three goal types. Process goals are very tangible and easy to track. Yes I did this or no I did not. But if you track these process goals on a daily or weekly basis you should hit your performance goals. If you hit your performance goals, then you’ll hit your outcome goals. An example of a process goal is making 500 shots 6 days a week. 

Notice the process goal is measurable and you can even track progress by tracking shooting percentage and how many attempts it took to make 500 shots each day. Now these examples are specific to basketball but you can adjust the three goal types to make them personal to your own goals based on your specific sport. 

So again, start with an overarching goal and work your way backwards so you have the outcome, performance, and process goals. One big advantage of doing this is getting your thoughts organized and just what you need to do to get to where you want to go. 

Those are very important but let’s think about other life goals whether it’s relationship related whether it’s religion related no matter what that is. Let’s try and really wrap our minds around one of the three to five areas in your life that you want to improve upon. Set SMART goals or get a specific understanding of exactly what you want to accomplish those goals and then kind of move on to each one of those categories. It’s not uncommon to have three to five goals going on at once. As long as we organize it with first setting smart goals for the outcome and then breaking that down into performance and process goals for the short term so you can stay on track so you can accomplish your goals. That’s the number one thing we want for you guys in order to succeed and set yourselves up for success. 

Now that you have acquired the knowledge of what it takes to become an ELITE athlete, the next step is most important, and that is actually applying this information and executing. At N1 Motion we are dedicated to empowering ALL athletes to reach their personal goes and help them maximize their potential. We do this by providing excellent coaching comprehensive training solutions to meet each athletes needs. Visit our website www.n1motion.com or contact us today info@n1motion.com for more info on how we can help serve you.


Top 3 Things to Do when Experiencing Digestion Problems.

Gut health is a hot topic in the fitness industry. Which is good because we are realizing that your overall health starts from the gut. A healthy gut is the foundation – you can’t build a house on unstable foundation, can you? Of course not! And you can’t build a healthy body without first recognizing that gut health comes first. There are some buzz words circling the fitness industry such as leaky gut, FodMaps, NightShades, and elimination diet (which was previously discussed in an early blog). But, truth be told, just like gut health is the foundation of overall health, there are 3 things to check-in with first before considering other causes of digestive problems.

Common Digestive Problems:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Heartburn

But, before jumping into food sensitivities or leaky gut, here’s the top 3 things to check-in with:

  1. Micronutrients: the Vitamins and Minerals in your foods that you get on a daily basis. This comes down to food selection. Ensuring you are getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function optimally can be challenging. This is the first building block to health and wellness and something that is highly overlooked. There’s a lot of nutrient-dense foods to choose from, but there’s also a lot of nutrient-deprived foods that exist and are usually easier to get your hands on. Taking a daily vitamin can really help fill in the gaps with micronutrients.
  2. Macronutrients: the amount of Protein, Fats and Carbohydrates you are eating on a daily basis. We each are unique and need a different number of each of these in a day depending on our current physique and what our goals are. In addition, getting these from the right sources matters. Example: Carbohydrates from a sweet potato is better than potato chips. So, again, ensuring you are choosing the right foods each day.
  3. Digestive Enzymes: are substances produced by our bodies that help us to digest the foods we eat. Some of us can be deficient in digestive enzymes, which can cause gas and bloating. There are supplements you can take to help absorption which can really help with this! If you need supplement recommendations, please reach out to me (aly.mcpherson@n1motion.com).

These are the top 3 things to look at first when experiencing digestion problems. Ensure your foundation is set in place before exploring other potential problems. If you have any questions – please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!


Which is Better: Multi-Sport or Sport Specific Athletic Training?

With more and more club teams and “elite” youth programs popping up in sports, there is a lot of pressure for athletes and parents to “specialize” in one sport year-round instead of participating in multiple sports throughout the year. Is one option better to become an elite athlete or do both have an equal chance of helping athletes stay healthy and optimize their opportunity to maximize their potential.?

It is not uncommon for coaches, parents, and athletes to believe that specializing in a sport at an early age is the secret ingredient to becoming a world-class athlete,  especially when you consider the success of athletes like Tiger Woods and Rafael Nadal, who excelled in their sports at an early age. However, research exploring elite athlete development suggests that athletes that specialize early and succeed at the highest level, are the exception to the rule, not the rule itself.

There is also a myth that participating in many different sports is not advantageous in advancing an athletes’ ability. Athletes are able to develop a variety of skills by playing multiple sports that will eventually transfer over to their primary sport. In fact, researchers have found elite athletes spent less time training in their primary sport before the age of 15 compared to their less successful peers.

A sports scientist by the name of Istvan Balyi created  the Long Term Athletic Development model (LTAD). This model is a framework for an optimal training, competition, and recovery schedule for each stage of athletic development. Coaches who engage in the model and its practices are more likely to produce athletes who reach their full athletic potential. The principles of this research have been adopted by youth athletic associations globally as the framework for proper management of youth and adolescent growth and development processes. It also identified the critical periods of accelerated adaptation to training.

When considering which is better multi-sport vs sport specific it’s important to evaluate the long term effects of each scenario. Specializing in a single sport early can lead to problematic injuries, overtraining, and burnout. Although there are short term benefits to specialization, such as getting more repetition; doing this early on is more detrimental than a competitive advantage long term. Participating in multiple sports allows an athlete to acquire a variety of skills and experience different environments that will transfer as the athlete further develops and chooses his or her primary sport. Single sport specialization is advantageous as an athlete develops fundamental skills and adapts to optimal windows of trainability. The best time to specialize in a single sport is around 15 years old. At this time an athlete is physically and mentally prepared for higher training volume. At this age the athlete is more than able to make up for time NOT spent in early specialization.


Why You Should Adopt A Growth Mindset

Have you ever wondered why elite athletes achieve greater success in their respective sport compared to everyone else? What separates Lebron James from Gerald Green? Tom Brady from Tony Romo, Serena Williams from Lauren Davis? You  might  think their physical ability is what separates them, and you might be right if we were comparing these great athletes to you or I. But physical ability is not the differentiating factor for professional athletes.. According to Dr. David Hesse Sports Scientist in Psychology, the biggest disparity between good and great athlete success, is their mindset. 

What Does It Mean to Be an Athlete?

You may or may not consider yourself an “athlete” but adopting the mindset of an elite athlete can help you in all aspects of your life. Webster defines an athlete as “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina”. I think of an athlete as someone working towards a specific fitness or performance based goal. Being an athlete is more than just the physical component that defines you; it includes your mental game as well. 

Growth Mindset

The concept of a growth mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck. A mindset, according to Dweck, is a self-perception or “self-theory” that you have about yourself. Believing that you are either “talented” or “not talented” is an example of a mindset. You may be aware or unaware of your mindsets, according to Dweck, but they can have profound effect on learning achievement, skill acquisition, personal relationships, professional success, and many other dimensions of life. 

There are two distinct mindsets, “fixed” and “growth”. According to Dweck, “In a fixed mindset, you believe your abilities are simply fixed traits. People with this mindset don’t spend time developing their abilities. They also believe that talent alone creates success without effort.

If you have a growth mindset,  you believe your abilities can be developed through dedication, hard work, intelligence and talent.  . This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. If you embrace the growth mindset you will accomplish more, accomplish your goals quicker and view challenges and failures as opportunities to improve your abilities and skills.

Separating Good from Great 

The greatest athletes in the world have a growth mindset. One thing they all have in common is they “buy in” to the process of what it takes to truly maximize talent and their abilities. Every detail of their day is planned and strategic to make them better in some way shape or form from the day before.  They are trying to maintain the highest level of performance for as long as possible. You may not be Lebron James, Tom Brady, or Serena Williams, but we can all look at what they do that makes them great, and apply it to our own lives and personal situations. Whether you’re looking to make a team, reach a fitness goal, or just striving to be your best self, adopting a growth mindset will allow you to maximize your abilities and potential so you can accomplish your goals, dreams, and aspirations. 


Micros: Easily Overlooked and 3 Ways to Get Them

What are Micros?

Macro is a word often heard in the fitness community. Many of us have probably heard people say, “I’ll eat it as long as if it fits my macros.”  But, something that is easily overlooked is micros. “Micronutrients are dietary components, often referred to as vitamins and minerals, which although only required by the body in small amounts, are vital to development, disease prevention, and wellbeing,” (CDC.gov).  A lot of times when we focus on eating healthy, we direct our attention to the protein, fats and carbs on the nutrition labels, but we don’t focus on all the vitamins and minerals we may or may not be getting.  Ultimately it comes down to food choices. For example, let’s compare an orange and a jellybean.

10 Jelly Beans Nutrition:

Fat: 0g

Carbs: 10g

Protein: 0g

1 Small Orange Nutrition:

Fat: 0.1g

Carbs: 11g

Protein: .9g

On a Macro level, these two foods look like they are pretty similar – about 10g of carbs per serving.  But, on a Micro level, these two foods are very different:

Here are 3 Ways to Ensure You are Getting the Micronutrients You Need:

1.     Shop the outer rim of the grocery store: Food choices are very important when it comes to micronutrients. The outer rim is typically fresh whole foods, which means that they will be packed with both macronutrients and micronutrients.  Typically things that are frozen or come from a bag or box will not give you the micronutrients you need.

2.     Eat Your Fruits and Veggies: Fruits and Veggies are packed with all kinds of micronutrients.

3.     Supplementation: Food is always the best source to get your micronutrients, but this can often be a challenge. This is where supplements come into play.  Taking a multi-vitamin and fish oil is very foundational for most adults. If you’re not a huge fan of veggies, or have some digestion issues, adding a green supplement into your regimen could be a good idea too.  Here’s the supplement stack we recommend: https://1stphorm.com/products/stacks/sports-performance/the-essential-stack (You also get FREE shipping using that link!)

Balance is Key

The key to optimal nutrition fueling is consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, and carbohydrates. You want to limit your consumption of refined process carbs like sugary cereal, syrups, candy, cookies, ect. Aim for one meal every 2-4 hours to meet your daily caloric requirements. This may vary from person to person based on sex, age, weight, height, and activity level.

For more information schedule a nutrition consultation today!


The Sugar Epidemic

 Are you still feeling addicted to sugar from all the holiday indulging? Did you know that sugar cravings can last for 10 days (for most people)? Today I’m going to analyze the sugar epidemic in our culture and give you some steps to get rid of sugar cravings.

“Sugar is addictive and does stimulate the same pleasure centers of the brain as cocaine or heroin.” Daily Burn

Sugar is addictive, clearly. It can cause weight gain, increase your risk of heart disease, cause acne, increase your risk of diabetes and depression, drain your energy, and  lead to a fatty liver and more. Why has sugar become such an epidemic? Sugar and sweeteners are the main ingredients in  a lot of America’s food and drinks. The average American consumes about 20 teaspoons, or 80 grams, of sugar a day according to  Healthline. 

Many of our food choices that sound healthy, sneakily are packed with sugar. For example, eating  low-fat yogurt and a granola bar may sound like a good choice for breakfast.

In reality, a 6-ounce container of Dannon All Natural Plain Lowfat Yogurt has 12g of sugar.

A two-pack of Nature Valley Oats ’n’ Honey Granola Bars has 11g of sugar.  Did you

Did you know that the FDA does not regulate the verbiage “natural,” “pure,” and “nature?”  Often times foods that are being marketed in this way typically are not as  healthy as they seem.

13 percent of American adults’ total caloric daily intake come from added sugars! It’s  important for us to stop reading only the front label and start paying attention to the nutrition label. The American Heart Association and the World Health Organization recommend that less than 10 percent of a person’s diet should come from added sugars.

Ideally, most women should not consume more than 100 calories from sugar a day, or about 6 teaspoons. Men should only consume 150 calories from sugar, or 9 teaspoons.

 Here are some popular drinks and their sugar content:

12oz Pepsi: 10 Teaspoons of Sugar

23oz Arizona Iced Tea: 17 Teaspoons

32oz Powerade: 14 Teaspoons

20oz Starbucks White Mocha Frappuccino: 18 Teaspoons

There’s no doubt sugar is an epidemic and there’s vast amounts hiding in our foods and drinks. So, how do we avoid the sugar and get rid of the sugar cravings?

  1. Check Labels – read your labels, specifically the sugar content. Also check the ingredients. There are tons of other names for sugar including: syrup, corn syrup, crystalline fructose, dextrose, ethyl maltol, fructose, fruit juice, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, sucrose, and many more.
  2. Stay away from Soft Drinks and Juice
  3. Try to Avoid Adding Sugar – this included artificial sweeteners such as stevia.
  4. Eat Fruits instead of Sweets – fruit contains fructose, which will hit the spot, but your body metabolizes this differently than sweets.
  5. Out of Sight, Out of Mind – Simply create an environment where you can be successful! Don’t leave treats laying around, you’ll be more tempted when a sugar craving does come up.
  6. Manage your Magnesium Levels – research shows that people who are deficient in magnesium crave chocolate. Eating rich leafy greens, legumes and nuts can help!
  7. Balance – have a sweet every now and again. Allow yourself to have it when you crave it, just don’t overdo it. We tend to get into the restrict – binge cycle easily, so allowing yourself balance with your food choices will help you maintain good choices for long-term success. 

In conclusion, sugar has become an epidemic in today’s culture and we need to start paying attention to this ingredient.

Check out our Fit Tip Episode below!


Why You Should Become a Yogi

Why You Should Become a Yogi

Yoga has been around for thousands of years and it’s not going anywhere.  Yoga is actually becoming more popular and here’s why you should be adding this workout into your routine.

No, you don’t need to do Yoga every day, but doing Yoga at least once a week will allow you to reap the benefits.

In todays world, mobility and stretching is something that often gets put on the back burner.  People are limited on time, especially when it comes to working out, so they want to make the most out of their workout time and unfortunately people don’t think stretching and mobility is valuable.  I could go on and on about why mobility and stretching are super important, but let’s keep it short: If you want to continue to do the things you love (working out, playing with your kids, walking around, etc.) we need to take care of our bodies in order to do that!

Let’s keep in mind that there are several different types of Yoga.  Some Yoga classes are more relaxing and holding stretches for a long amount of time.  Some classes are faster pace and more of a sweaty endeavor.  Some is active stretching.  So, when picking out a Yoga class to attend make sure to work with a Yoga instructor to see what style would best fit where you are currently at and what your goals are.

The Benefits

So, why Yoga then?  Yoga has both physical and mental benefits.  Let’s go over the physical benefits:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased muscle strength and overall tone
  • Improved respiration
  • Improved energy levels
  • Maintain a balanced metabolism
  • Weight reduction
  • Cardio and circulatory health
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Protection from injury

As you can see, there are several physical benefits to practicing Yoga and this is why Yoga is becoming bigger among athletes as well.

Let’s check out the mental benefits:

  • Helps manage stress
    • Stress can reveal itself in many ways: back and neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse (including caffeine), and an inability to concentrate.
  • More positive outlook on life
  • Create mental clarity and calmness
  • Increase body awareness
  • Relieve chronic stress patterns
  • Relax the mind
  • Center attention
  • Sharpen concentration

Are you stressed?  I can guess that the answer to that question is yes! Life is hectic, and it seems to continue to get even more busy.  Yoga can be a way to get to a healthy state of mind and allow you to enjoy life, even when it’s stressful.

Yoga is for every body!

Yoga is a very accessible workout for anyone and clearly there are several great benefits to this type of exercising.  Whether your just starting out or have been working out for several years, Yoga should be part of your routine.

Now, get out there and get your Namaste on!


Optimize Your Time at the Gym with These 4 Training Methods

Optimize Your Time at the Gym with These 4 Training Methods

Michol Dalcourt developed the 4Q Model after years of research.  Who’s Michol Dalcourt?  He is the founder of the Institute of Motion, inventor of a piece of equipment called the ViPR (see picture below), and co-founder of PTA (Personal Training Academy) Global.

Now that you know Dalcourt’s credentials, let’s take a look at the 4Q Model:

As you can see in the graph, there are 4 quadrants of training:

  1. Loaded Linear Training
  2. Unloaded Linear Training
  3. Loaded Movement Training
  4. Unloaded Movement Training

There are also X and Y axis.  The X axis is linear movement and transitional movement.  Linear movement is one-dimensional movement along a straight line.  Transitional movement is moving from one position to another.  Think about babies for this one – yes, babies.  For instant, a baby rolling, getting up to standing and getting back to the floor from standing, etc.  The Y axis is Loaded and Unloaded – meaning weighted or non-weighted.

So, now that we have clear understanding of what the 4Q Model is, let’s dive in deeper to each quadrant:

  1. Loaded Linear Training: This is probably the most common training you would see in a gym, more specifically in the weights area.  This type of training is linear, movement from front to back and side to side (Frontal and Sagittal Planes of Motion).  It is loaded, meaning that you have some type of weight during this type of training methodology.  As you can see in the model this includes exercises such as Bench Press, Deadlift, Hang Clean and Bicep Curl.
    • Benefits of this method:
      • Greater muscle Hypertrophy
      • Time under tension
      • Increase hormonal release
      • Improvement in Stability / Strength / Power
      • Improved intra-muscular coordination
  2. Unloaded Linear Training: Very similar to Loaded Linear Training, but unloaded (so no weight).  Some examples, as see in the model, are running, cycling and swimming.
    • Benefits of this method:
      • Re-education of neuro-muscular system
      • Stability / Mobility training
      • Weak Link Activation
      • Targeted tissue improvement (i.e. muscle)
      • Improved intra-muscular coordination
      • – Cardio and motor efficiency
  3. Unloaded Movement Training: This is multi-plane, unloaded training.  Think about the baby – crawling, rolling, standing from a seated position and getting back to seated from standing.  Some examples, aside from the ones in the model, includes yoga.
    • Benefits of this method:
      • Rapid NS activation
      • Mostability training
      • Improved Motor learning
      • Speed, agility, quickness improvements
      • Increase functional reaction capabilities
  4. Loaded Movement Training: This is multi-plane and loaded.  Examples of this method include warding patterns and ViPR training (tool pictured above).
    • Benefits of this Method:
      • Greater adaptations in muscle, nerve, skin, fascia
      • Less compressive forces
      • Increase hormonal release
      • Improvement in multi-directional Stability / Strength / Power
      • Improved inter-muscular coordination
      • Whole body integration

So, what method is the best?  There’s not one training method that is better than the other and creating a program that’s comprehensive with all of these methods is ideal.  There are several benefits to each method and if you want results, having a combination of all of these will get you there.  With that said, you can see how Loaded Linear, Unloaded Linear and Unloaded Movement Training are all rather popular.  Loaded Movement Training, although it’s becoming more popular, it’s still a method that is challenging to ensure you train.  The reason why you want to train using this method is because it will create a more resilient human body.  If you think about it, we do things such as carrying groceries from the car to the house.  We carry toddlers on our hips.  We reach down on the ground to pick something up or reach up to get something out of the cabinet.  We are constantly in  multi-planes with load throughout our lives.  So, if we also train in this way, we create a more resilient human body!  Try adding this to your next workout routine.  If you can’t get your hands on a ViPR for training, try adding some of these movements to your workouts:

Weighted T-Plane Squat

Weighted Halo Chop

Wood Chopper

Squat with Figure-8

Those are just a few to get your head in the right mind space.  Get creative!  If your wanting help creating a comprehensive program that includes all 4 methodologies of the 4Q Method, let us know!  We’d be happy to help.

*Reference: Michol Dalcourt, Institute of Motion: Loaded Movement Training

Why High Intensity Interval Training is a Big HIIT.

Why High Intensity Interval Training is a Big HIIT!

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is some version of a brief period of all-out effort followed by a rest period.  Here’s everything you need to know about HIIT Training and how you can reap the benefits from this sufficient workout method.

Why is Hight Intensity Interval Training a big HIIT?

  1. Efficient: HIIT Sessions are short, but definetly not sweet.
  2. Effective: Studies have proven this method as extremely effective.
  3. Multi-Purpose: No matter what your goals are, this training methodology is for you.

Efficient: Why is HIIT such an efficient method of training?

To answer this question, first we must look at what types of work-to-rest ratios we should be using:

1:1 – example: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off

2:1 – example: 40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest

3:1 – example: 45 seconds on, 15 seconds rest

For beginner HIIT athletes, start off with a 1:1 work-t0-rest ratio and incrementally increase as you become more conditioned.

The key is to ensure that your all-out effort is truly all-out.  So, the length of your training can vary as well. Length of time should be determined by your all-out effort.  So how long should your HIIT sessions last?  It’s time to quit when you can no longer maintain an all-out effort for the designated work time frame.  Typically, this time frame is no longer than 45 minutes.  This is why this method has gained its popularity.  If you are short on time, it’s a great way to be efficient with your time.

Effective: 

Studies have proven that HIIT training helps you burn more fat for up to 24 hours after your session.  This method puts your body into overdrive with repair processes, therefore, your body burns more fat while in repair mode.  Studies have proven HIIT to be an effective way to lose weight, while also not sacrificing muscle.  More muscle on the body means that you burn more fat at rest as well.  Not only that, but HIIT increases the production of your Human Growth Hormone (HGH).  This increases caloric burn and also reduces the aging process.  These are just a few benefits of HIIT training, which only proves this method even further.

Multi-Purpose: 

Whether your have goals of fat loss, increasing muscle while maintaining a lean physique, or athletic performance, this method may be used to help you reach your goals!  This is a big reason why this method has gained such popularity.

Some things to mention about HIIT:

Adding 2 sessions a week is an ideal amount to reap the benefits from HIIT training.  Why should I do it only 2x a week if it’s so effective and efficient?  The whole idea of HIIT training is to shock your central nervous system and constantly challenge your body to adapt in new ways, meaning you will get results.  If you were to do HIIT training every day, the body would adapt and it would become less effective, so keep this in mind while developing your workout routine.

As you can see, HIIT is a great tool to add to your regimen!  Find a beginners HIIT workout below.  Go get ’em!

Beginners HIIT

Exercise 1: 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest + Exercise 2: 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest; each round 3x

Round 1: Push-Ups + Burpees

Round 2: Squats + Side to Side Squat Jumps

Round 3: Plank Shoulder Taps + 4 Cross-body Mountain Climbers and 4 Jumping Jacks

Round 4: Reverse Lunges + Split Squat Jumps

Round 5: Bicycle Crunches + Shuffle side to side


Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting, like Keto, is becoming a buzz-word in the fitness community. It has become a huge trend because of the results people are achieving. Many studies show that intermittent fasting can cause weight loss, improve metabolic health, protect against disease, and perhaps even help you live longer. Are you curious about trying it? Here are the things you need to know before trying it for yourself.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. There are several different methods that we will go over below. The reason this is a fast-growing eating pattern is because it’s an easier way to live life, and there are several health benefits as well.

Health benefits 

  • Weight Loss:Naturally, if you fast, you will eat less. If you eat less than your output energy, you will lose weight.  That is, assuming you don’t compensate during the times you are not fasting, as in “making-up” for the lost time.
  • Insulin Resistance:Fasting lowers your blood sugar and can help protect from Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Inflammation:If you are someone that often experiences inflammation, fasting can help reduce this painful swelling.
  • Heart Health:Fasting may reduce “bad” cholesterol and other risks to heart disease.
  • Cancer:According to animal studies, it is suggested that fasting may prevent cancer.
  • Brain Health:Fasting increases the brain hormone and may aid in the growth of new nerve cells.
  • Anti-Aging:Fasting in rats extended their life-span, so this could be a positive effect for you as well.

As you can see, there are several benefits to trying intermittent fasting. On the flip-side, there can also be harmful effects. Always consult your physician before switching your diet and/or if you experience negative side effects.

Fasting methods

  • 16/8 Method16 hours of fasting and an 8-hour window to consume food. For example, skip breakfast and eat lunch at 1:00 pm, a snack around 4:00 pm, and eat dinner before 9:00 pm.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: 24-Hour fast 1x or 2x a week. Example, not eating dinner one day until dinner the next day.
  • The 5:2 Diet:You consume only 500 – 600 calories on 2 non-consecutive days a week, but eat normally the other 5 days.

 

How fasting affects your cells and hormones 

  • While fasting, your body adjusts hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. This can cause weight loss.
  • While fasting, your cells initiate important repair processes.

Now that you know the facts, how do you decide which method is right for you? Or is fasting for you at all?  If you think about it, our bodies were built to survive. We were hunters and gatherers.  If we did not hunt or gather food, we did not eat.  We are busy people.  Much busier than we ever used to be. So, if you are constantly on the go, fasting can make your life a little easier when it comes to food. It’s also less expensive, because you’re eating less. My recommendation to determine which method works for you is to ask yourself which method would make your life easier? Also, what category do you fall under:

  1. 16:8 Method:For dedicated gym-goers who are looking to lose fat and gain lean mass.
  2. Eat-Stop-Eat:Healthy eaters looking for an extra boost.
  3. The 5:2 Diet:  Disciplined dieters with a specified goal weight.

Maybe you don’t fall under any of these categories right now, and that’s okay! My recommendation would be to start with small goals. Making incremental changes over time will help make this a lifestyle. And making it a lifestyle will ultimately make you successful with any health and wellness goals you have in mind! If you don’t fall under these categories, start off by eating healthier. Once you fall into one of these categories, then test out each method until you find one that works for you.

If you are interested in the 16:8 Method, find more information here about meal planning around workouts and what to eat during your feeding window.

These are not the only methods of fasting. If you want to learn about other methods and more about what might work for you, click here.

 


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