Do you consider yourself an athlete? If you do any kind of physical training, you should!
You may not be a professional athlete, but you are an athlete.
All humans are athletic by nature. It’s our native duty to be able to move fast with agility, and be powerful and explosive through a wide range of motions.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of today’s society, most people stop learning and practicing new physical skills sometime in early childhood.
You learned how to crawl, then walk, then run and jump…then you stopped, and sat.
The majority of people who actually workout 4-5 times a week aren’t being as mobile or moving as much as they should: they aren’t dynamically warming up, and they don’t even realize that their training is lacking essential exercises.
For example, you may go to the gym and do all the big lifts, but are you training for mobility and real-life functional strength movements? Are you dynamically stretching? Are you doing plyometrics for explosiveness?
If the answer is no to any of those, then this article is for you…Matter of fact, SET FOR SET is for you.
These types of exercises boost your overall performance and the way you move and ultimately, feel.
This is for… humans…so, EVERYBODY. And, since you are still reading this, it is likely that you want to make some improvements in what your body is capable of.
Our goal is to help improve your mobility, flexibility, explosiveness, and strength while teaching you a bit more about recovering after taxing physical activities.
We are here to provide you with the tools and knowledge to help build a stronger foundation. All you need is an extra 1% of your day to add these functional foundation-training methods to your workout plan. That’s about 15 minutes a day!
WHAT WILL THIS ARTICLE ADDRESS?
GOAL OF THIS ARTICLE:
To set you on the journey of - moving better, feeling better, and looking better.
To reach that goal, in the most efficient and effective manner, we must train the right way. We are going to lead you in the right direction and get you started on that journey.
BUT FIRST, HERE IS THE MENTALITY THAT’S NEEDED
1. STRONG MENTALITY & DEDICATION –There is no quick fix, it takes time.
It takes a lot of time and dedication to become the best. The same goes for anyone who is really powerful and ripped. The best athletes and bodies out there have been working at it consistently for a long time. This takes strong will power and a strong mind… because we all know the mind gives up before the body!
So...Dig in! Grind hard! It’s worth the wait.
Dedicate yourself to becoming more powerful, agile, quick, flexible, coordinated – all natural native human necessities and capabilities. Train for that, day in and day out. The results will be improvement in your overall health, performance and looks. Remember, the aesthetic factor is a huge plus, and it’ll surely come, but it shouldn’t be the main goal.
2. GOALS - Clear goals mean a clear direction.
By knowing exactly what you want to improve, you are able to create a training plan geared towards that end. To do this properly you must consistently train using that plan for a certain period of time. Doing “what ever you feel like that day” will never get you the results you desire, unless the results you desire are inconsistency.
“I’m a firm believer in goal setting. Step by step. I can’t see any other way of accomplishing anything.” Michael Jordan
If you have a clear goal in mind, a consistent training plan will lead to better results. Figure out what you need to improve in the short term ~ 6-8 weeks.
i.e. if you can’t do a set of hanging leg raises, but you can bench your bodyweight and squat 1.5 times your weight, you probably need to work on your core more.
i.e. if you are a very powerful person but have limited flexibility, you should work more on mobility and stretching.
Assess yourself. Then set a training plan in motion with emphasis on improving your weak areas. Or, simply add to your current training program. Supplement your regular training with exercises and movements that target your weak areas. Keep the same routine for 6-8 weeks, then re-assess.
TIP: Make your goals tough yet achievable. If your goals are unreasonable or too long term, it’s a recipe for quitting. Have short and long term goals.
Note: Not to contradict what was written above, but, it is good to try something new now and then throughout your training program. Try to do a Max Rep, or a new exercise you saw on Instagram (as long as it’s safe, and you know your limits). This keeps things interesting.
3. TIME–Making the most of your time
Everyone has a “life” and needs to prioritize their time.
To do this, and see the best results, you must USE YOUR TIME WISELY WHEN TRAINING.
Forget about “filler” exercises. Spend more time on compound movements, such as the big lifts, sprints, HIIT, or explosive movements. These exercises will target multiple muscles – more muscles worked in less time.
If you spend your time on vital exercises you won’t need to train for hours.
4. SMART WORK - Working harder isn’t always smarter.
Not all of your training needs to be extremely intense. Dynamically stretching, plyometrics or Pilates, for example, provide great performance results and aren’t physically taxing like weightlifting or HIIT.
Be sure to make time for a well-rounded training plan, it doesn’t have to always be HARD, but it should always be SMART.
5. STAY ACTIVE - Stay active throughout the day
It’s not easy for most people who have office jobs to stay active throughout the day…
ACTUALLY, IT IS.
You can stay active throughout the day and week fairly easily. It’s pretty simple:
This combined with a weekly workout routine and you are bound to see some positive results-fast!
6. HEALTHY HABITS – Establish healthy habits. Make them the norm.
Trying to be perfect with your diet will set you up for failure. Strive to make progress by continually creating healthy eating habits.
You will feel much better when you are eating healthy – less groggy and lethargic, with no stomach aches.
And, doing the next trendy fad diet probably won’t help you either. Again, making healthy choices a habit will.
It’s not just about eating or drinking...as we all know. We must sleep well! Take a rest from training when needed. These are healthy choices too.
If you do this, it won’t kill your gains (or fat losses) when you eat a pizza. Then you can tell all those people who ask, “How can So-And-So eat that and stay in such good shape?” It’s because this is a treat for them, not a daily occurrence.
Without treats, a.k.a. cheats, life gets really, REALLY boring.
NOTE: Some diets are not fads and should be taken seriously, but to do so you must LEARN.
7. STUDY - Constantly study and expand your training knowledge.
Nowadays, you can get the same access to any training, nutritional or motivational materials that an elite athlete can. If you don’t have the knowledge it is because you aren’t searching or studying… or asking the right people, like us.
If you want to see results, you must have the knowledge of how to achieve them.
8. COMMUNITY - Train and be around better athletes.
People who are the best at what they do surround themselves with competition…make that GOOD COMPETITION. To be the best, you must play the best. To become better, you must push yourself, and to do this, nothing is better than having a community of people who want what you want and who are further along the journey than you or want it just as badly as you do. They’ll be able to teach you and push you harder than you could on your own. Competition and motivation are the two biggest reasons why people become better at what they do.
And think about these words carefully…
“You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy.” Arthur Ashe
9. REST - Know when to rest. And do it without guilt.
Know when to take a day off.
If you feel you are over-working your body, which is becoming more frequent amongst the fitness community, take a rest day. Then assess yourself the next day. If you feel better get back at it.
As the old saying goes, you grow taller when you sleep… That’s right! And, your muscles grow when you rest! Sometimes you need to sleep or simply take a day off from training.
Also, as mentioned above, you don’t always need to train hard to enhance yourself. If you are feeling worn out, take the day off from strength training or intense cardio and do mobility exercises or work on your flexibility. This will actually help with recovery and boost your immune system.
To touch on another similar point, rest is not only about rest days. You should be properly resting between exercises - have certain “set times” for rest between sets or circuits.
10. GREATNESS - Strive for greatness.
Dream your vision to reality. Be the best you.
Now we’ll discuss 5 important training methods that we have noticed a large majority of people working out don’t do or don’t do often. This type of training is also perfect for beginners. They are methods/exercises that professional athletes and trainers use – We highly recommend employing these training methods.
Remember, YOU are an athlete, and enhancing your performance is the goal.
The number one mistake we see with people pursuing a fitter life is that they have an aesthetic-focused mindset towards fitness. Yes, it actually FEELS fantastic to LOOK great. But…it’s actually not as important as being able to move at your best, which comes from mobility and flexibility training. If you want to be an all around athlete, you must train for maximum mobility, a.k.a. range of motion.
HOW DOES RANGE OF MOTION AFFECT YOUR PERFORMANCE?
If you are a runner, and you have lots of power in your legs but your range of motion is much less than your competitors, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. Less range of motion = shorter strides, which = slower running…
Mobility really is key to life...(or else we would be plants).
Movement and stretching is the key to unlocking mobility.
From birth we have full mobility but as we age we slowly tighten up. This is exacerbated for most through sedentary lifestyles. We must keep mobile. You’ll thank yourself when you are older.
There’s a reason why Special Ops, the most badass guys on the planet, incorporate plenty of mobility exercises into their workout routines. By adding mobility exercises into your workout, you will build a more durable body by decreasing tightness and alleviating muscle imbalances that often can lead to injury.
With that being said…
Sadly, mobility exercises are one of the most skipped aspects of training.
Because mobility is often misunderstood, let’s take a look at the definition:
Noun: mobility mo·bil·i·ty: the ability to move or be moved freely and easily without much stress on the body.
WALL HIP FLEXOR MOBILIZATION
Now you may be wondering what’s the difference between mobility and flexibility?
They go hand in hand. The difference is... Mobility is the ability to move freely and easily. Stretching is just a key way to help achieve this, but not the only way. You need movement to unlock mobility.
Professional athletes train for mobility because it improves their range of motion in their joints and muscles. For most of us that would be great too! Right? It also helps improve posture, and every day aches and pains, and it even boosts body awareness. Sounds pretty damn good.
The best thing about mobility training is…it’s never too late! And it’s not that difficult. Your mobility can always improve. You will see results fast when training for mobility.
Over time you will see an increased range of motion and how it positively affects your sport, and/or lifts your performance, and most importantly, your daily life. It’s GOOD.
WHEN SHOULD YOU TRAIN MOBILITY?
Mobility training can be done as part of your warm-up before working out or you can do it within your training in the form of active rest. Mobility exercises can also be done as recovery from other forms of intense training.
EXAMPLES OF MOBILITY EXERCISES:
Flexibility is an important attribute that pro athletes and trainers address before and after every workout.
Tom Brady has been discussing this for a while now.
“Pliable muscles are softer, longer and more resilient: they help insulate the body against injury and accelerate post-injury recovery."
Tom Brady told the Times, "If there's so much pressure, just constant tugging on your tendons and ligaments, you're going to get hurt. Like with a kid, when they fall, they don't get hurt. Their muscles are soft. When you get older, you lose that."
Strength training will tighten and shorten your muscles, so it is important that you stretch your muscles to lengthen them. It sounds really strange when put like that, yet it’s real.
To do this you must work on your flexibility. Athletes who lengthen their muscles see direct results in their performance and resistance of injury. Brady isn’t the only athlete who knows this.
Stretching is an effective way to prevent injuries and improve the way you perform and move. And It doesn’t require a super intense workout or a lot of time such as squatting and weightlifting to achieve desired results.
However, you must know how to stretch and when. Certain stretching should be done before working out, and certain stretching should be done after working out.
What does CERTAIN stretching mean?
We are talking about two types of stretching techniques.
Athletes perform dynamic stretches during every warm-up, and static stretches after a long training session or when necessary.
Dynamic stretches involve movement and muscular effort to stretch the muscle. You should never hold a stretch for longer than 10 seconds. Dynamic stretching will have you constantly moving during your warm-up, which brings up your heart rate while increasing the range of motion in your muscles and tendons (great for preventing injuries). Dynamic stretches actively turns on and tunes in your muscles- forcing them into performance mode.
Static stretching usually requires a hold of at least 20 seconds, with a 20 second rest. It will not bring your heart rate up to performance-ready level. Static stretching after an event will help you recover and prevent injury, however, if static stretching is done before, it can limit your body’s ability to react quickly. This can last up to two hours for activities like sprints or vertical leaps.
Both static and dynamic stretching can help improve your flexibility and mobility, which is clearly important in sports.
Some examples of a dynamic stretch would be leg cradles or knee hugs.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU STRETCH?
NOTE: Stretching should never be too painful. The focus should be on bringing the muscle to a point of slight tension. Continue breathing pattern throughout the stretch.
Ever wonder how some people display such explosiveness and power?
It’s all natural, right?
No, in fact, you can achieve some pretty outstanding results in explosiveness by doing plyometric exercises!
Noun: Plyometrics plyo·met·rics:
Also known as "jump training" or "plyos", are exercises in which your muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing your power (speed-strength).
i.e. Knee Highs, Lateral Jumps, Butt Kicks, Tuck Jumps, Quick Skips.
Regularly incorporating plyometrics into your workouts will help you become a better all-around athlete…not to mention, get you mad toned.
Plyometric exercises improve your explosive power, vertical jump, body control, speed and strength. It also teaches how to stretch your muscles before contracting them when landing after a jump. The gains you can make will directly translate to your athletic performance, your workouts and daily life.
HOW IT WORKS
When performing plyometrics all of your muscles must work together in quick and powerful movements, this allows you to better control your body in an aggressive, explosive way.
When should I do Plyos?
Plyometric training should be performed one to three times a week. It is best done in sets and/or circuits.
The really great thing about plyos is it helps you perform better AND look better. Plyometrics will get you ripped!
What is functional strength? What does that really even mean?
We hear so much about functional training, is it a fad? A buzz word? NO, actually it’s the real deal.
Think about it like this.
In today’s cushy environment, we get stuck in our simple, same, daily routines. Doing the same motions over and over. We are not being spontaneously stimulated by our environment as our ancestors once were... Well, not the majority of us at least.
These days our motions are now typing, talking on the phone, driving, or watching TV and playing video games. We need to find ways to change our environment and daily routines in order to keep our body structure active and healthy. We need to do natural, native movements throughout the day – running, walking, climbing, etc.
If we don’t, our older selves will reminisce about how nice it was to have functional strength. Because as you age, the next thing you know your sprint will have turned to a fast walk, your fast walk to a regular walk, your regular walk to a painful slow walk, to a walker, to a…you-get-the-point...
The following statement is serious - You CAN prolong the inevitable.
You can’t actually stop getting older, but you can definitely keep yourself fit for A LONG TIME. Look at some inspirational elderly people who are still in shape and mobile, the reason isn’t only genetics - Take care of your body throughout your life like you would your home or vehicle. Maintain it!
DEFINE FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH
Functional strength is the ability to run your load-joints (shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles) through a full range of motion without pain, stiffness, or restriction.
Functional strength training focuses on exercises and movements that directly improve your performance for real life situations and your workouts or sporting events.
Functional strength exercises will make you bigger, stronger, faster, and healthier. They'll improve your sex life and your work life. They'll help you function better in every aspect of your physical life, and that's truly what functional means.
FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH EXERCISES
Functional strength training really consists of a wide variety of exercises.
i.e. calisthenics, weightlifting, running, etc.
i.e. pull ups, squats, pushups, bench press, deadlifts, lunges, sprinting…the list goes on.
MAKE SURE YOU GO HEAVY TOO
If you are 200lbs, for bench press you are much better off putting up 200lbs for 10reps x 4 than 150lbs for 20reps x 4.
You want strength? Then you must lift strong!
This doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for high reps work! Do your research and test your body.
And as mentioned before, don’t waste time on non-functional filler exercises!
ATTENTION: For those who are working out often at the gym, remember, it’s not all about “big lifts”.
Get outside of the gym sometimes too. Get out on the trail, your backyard, a mountain, whatever. Do things that you did as a kid - Play on the rings and monkey bars at the playground. RUN. Practice handstands; bear crawls, ape walks, frog jumps, basically anything natural...native movements. Enhance your mind and your body’s response to this type of movement.
Sit less and get out of your comfort zone.
Moving functionally is truly being human. We were made to be functional, let’s not lose that.
Recovery is an extremely crucial factor in the best training programs. This includes a plethora of different types of recovery tactics. None are extremely time consuming or taxing on the body, although they can hurt a bit!
You already know to recover you must eat and sleep well so we will not get into that.
What should be mentioned is something that most people don’t do…
MASSAGE THERAPY, TRIGGER POINT THERAPY, MYOFASCIAL RELEASE
Muscle pain is definitely aggravating or at least uncomfortable for most. Whether that is a pulled muscle, tight or stiff muscles, dull pain, or simply sore muscles from working out. Myofascial release is an efficient and effective treatment option to relieve pain and get back to a full, comfortable range of movement.
HOW’S IT DONE?
Treatment involves applying gentle yet firm pressure on specific muscles and points of your body. Bigger equipment, like the foam roller is used to relax and relieve larger body areas, and a lacrosse ball or double lacrosse ball are perfect for targeting smaller areas.
We highly recommend getting a lacrosse ball or double lacrosse ball for trigger point therapy, as it is extremely portable and works really well. It’s like having a personal masseuse in the palm of your hand. All you need is yourself, a surface and that lovely, solid rubber ball.
You can find tons of YouTube videos on how to use the lacrosse ball or double lacrosse ball.
Kai Wheeler has a great functional training Youtube channel and here is a video she made on relieving hip, lower back and glute pain.
We recommend supplementing these 5 pillars into your current workout program. Whether that program is structured tightly or not, it is only going to benefit you.
And if you aren’t training at all, this is the perfect place to start.
The great thing is, for shy people and beginners, if you don’t want to do these types of exercises at your gym or in front of people, you don’t need to. All these exercises can be done from wherever you please. Once you are comfortable with these movements and exercises, and you see the direct results, do everyone a favor and go out there and show off your athletic abilities!
You are a human, you are naturally an athlete, so go out there and live it!
Good luck and make sure you get your towel and water because it’s going down! TRAIN HARD! The battle rages on…
If you have any questions or thoughts we’d love to hear from you.
Comments will be approved before showing up.