Sports nutrition is an important component for increased sports performance. A healthy immune system is important for over all health. Being able to incorporate both, especially during cold and flu season will keep you in great health all year round.
Protein, fats and carbohydrates are important ingredients to maintaining a healthy body during rigorous workouts. Being mindful of the foods needed to improve your immunity is equally important.
Choose fresh, easy-to-digest foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are optimal choices to support a healthy immune system. They contain antioxidants and both insoluble and soluble fiber. They enhance digestion and elimination, which increases one’s immunity.
Foods that are processed contain harmful ingredients, saturated fats and dangerous chemicals. They are hard to digest and will do a number on your immune system. Stay as close to foods that are not altered but are as close to their natural state. Organic is the best choice as these foods do not contain chemicals and have been grown to contain more minerals.
Using immune boosting spices when you cook, adds great flavors to vegetables, grains and legumes and will also aid in digestion making the nutrients more readily available for the body. Try this recipe:
1/4 part ground cinnamon, 1 part ground black pepper, 1 part ground dry ginger, 2 parts ground turmeric, 3 parts ground cumin, 3 parts ground coriander, 6 parts ground fennel.
You don’t want to eat too much at any meal and you should always have water with all your meals. It has been suggested that you should eat the biggest meal in the middle of the day when your digestion is strongest. Eat lighter meals at breakfast and in the evening when digestion is weaker to enhance immunity.
An increased immunity will allow you to stay healthy and be able to continue your practice and intensify your sports training.
In sports there are countless forces that need to be neutralized for an athlete to remain in balance and in the game. These could be forces within the athlete himself that need to be improved, such as flexibility or muscular discrepancies. Or they could be forces outside of the athlete’s control, such as the weather or someone from the opposing team. Both of these forces should be the focus when an athlete incorporates balance training into his daily schedule.
An athlete’s internal muscular balance is the ability of their muscles to adapt to the tension and rapid pace changes that occur throughout any activity. An athlete uses their internal muscles to keep themselves from falling and understanding where they are in space.
An athlete’s ability to react to external forces is very important. They are constantly being challenged. Whether the athlete encounters a jab as in boxing; the force of a stick hitting his body in lacrosse; or, is tackled in football. All are examples of external forces working to knock them off balance. Their body needs to be able to respond quickly and efficiently in order to improve their sports performance.
There are also forces, which are not immediately seen by an athlete during the game. A blindsided tackle or a huge gust of wind are examples where an athlete may not be able to prepare but needs to be able to react just as quick.
In order to perform to the best of their ability, athletes need to work on their balance training. The results may not be immediate; however, if an athlete works on balance a little bit each day, takes a hit either indirectly or directly and is able to withstand the force and continue in the game, the result will be very apparent.
A speed bag is a small punching bag primarily used by boxers to improve their speed, stamina and agility.
The rapid punching done on a speed bag increases an athlete’s hand-eye coordination as they shift their weight from foot to foot. Speed bags also improve rhythm and timing for great agility training. Learning to be deft and fleet of foot has his benefits in every sport not to mention the sharpness, dexterity and stamina that is required when punching on a speed bag.
A series of quick movements involves, not only the hands and feet, but also the entire body. It is suggested that the athlete hit the speed bag in the 1-2-3 method for three minutes before picking up their pace. As they become more adept, they will be able to Increase their time and build stamina. The speed bag is a great cardiovascular workout that works an athlete’s entire body.
All athletes understand the role that carbohydrates, fats, protein, calcium, etc. play in their diet. Supplying the body with proper nutrition is important to any athlete who is testing the limits of their physical abilities each day.
An athlete demands a lot from his body and to manage and sustain these abilities, proper sports nutrition and a healthy diet can be the difference between success and failure.
Daily absorption of vitamins and minerals into an athlete’s diet will ensure that the energy produced metabolizes faster.
Minerals are important as they regulate cell function and provide cell structure, control the action of the nerves and ability of the muscles, help maintain proper water balance, and buffer the pH of the cells.
Major minerals include calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, sodium and phosphorus. Micro minerals include copper, iodine, fluoride, selenium, iron and zinc.
The key to a balanced diet is eating foods rich in these nutrients. Potassium monitors muscle activity; iron is necessary in the development of hemoglobin and in carrying oxygen to all cells; calcium is required for building strong bones and teeth; and zinc is fundamental for normal growth and energy production in muscles.
Vitamins help with the absorption of iron and have an important function in the metabolism of the proteins, fats and carbohydrates that an athlete consumes. They also prevent cell damage and tissue growth. An athlete is more prone to cell damage since they are inhaling more oxygen. Vitamin rich foods include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. An athlete should try and consume between five and nine servings per day.
The role of vitamins and minerals becomes very clear for an athlete, or anyone, to maintain a healthy body. Eating a wide variety of foods that are high in vitamins and minerals will allow all the small seemingly unnoticeable functions of your body, to perform at peak performance so the athlete can also.
Agility drills improve coordination, speed and power. As an athlete, perfecting the technique in your agility drills will allow you to move quickly when your sport demands that you rapidly switch directions. Switching up your agility drills during your agility training will ensure that your workout is the most effective.
Ladder Drills is a classic agility drill and one that is most effective for developing quick foot work.
The athlete will run forward with their knees kept high as they touch every square of the ladder. Using the balls of the feet and with power from the arms, this drill not only improves foot speed but also coordination.
With the ladder positioned lengthwise, the athlete starts himself in one of the end squares and runs side to side down the length of the ladder. This drill is great for court sports as it helps with knee and ankle stability which will protect the athlete against injury.
Jumping rope is another popular drill and one where the athlete can create many exercises. Jumping fast is a great cardiovascular work out and increasing the height of the jump, works both agility and jump training. Once the athlete is adept at jumping rope, which works to improve hand eye coordination, they can try to revolve the rope several times in one jump. Running and walking while jumping; as well as moving the feet in different directions such as side to side or back and forth also improves stamina and agility.
Shuttle runs and sprints help with speed and endurance which is another great cardiovascular workout. Position a couple of markers about 25 yards apart and sprint from one marker and back. Varying the way the athlete runs, such as side- to-side or forward and backwards, will help build stamina, speed and coordination for those sports that involve quick stop and go action.
Performing tuck jumps and running up and down stairs are also great drills when you can’t get to a gym. Tuck jumps will improve your agility and power. While jumping remember to bend your knees toward your chest and grab them quickly with your arms and let go. Once you land, repeat immediately. The stairs will also help to develop quickness in your step and is another great cardiovascular workout. Work up to taking two steps at a time. Running up and down for 10 sets will give you a great workout.
Building strength, power, speed, coordination are many of the benefits of agility training. But most important, for athletes, is the control they have over their bodies. To be able to succeed in their sport with quick bursts of speed, immediate start and stops, changing directions swiftly, will effectively improve an athlete’s agility and not only keep them in top form but also keep them safe from injury.
Keeping our bodies hydrated while we work out is very important. We all know that water helps with the transportation of nutrients in our bodies as well as aiding in digestion. It also helps to keep our joint and connective tissues lubricated while regulating temperature by sweating. Water is a mainstay with sports nutrition because it also helps keep athletes comfortable, helps them to maintain high performance levels and aids in injury prevention.
So if water is so great, why would an athlete need to consider a sports drink? For the athlete that works out less than an hour at a time, water is the best choice. But those athletes that have a high intensity work out for longer a duration (1.5 to 3 hours), they may want to consider a sports drink to replenish the micronutrients that are lost.
The more you sweat, the more potassium and sodium you lose. A sports drink does offer these nutrients to your body during a strenuous work out.
Hydration, electrolyte replenishment and even fuel are the three basic reasons that a sports drink can help your body during a workout. If people can drink 17 ounces before they exercise and then periodically while they are exercising they will keep their body adequately hydrated throughout the entire workout. The carbohydrates found in sports drinks will help to fuel the workout and inhibit fatigue and of course the electrolytes in the sports drink can help sustain the fluid-electrolyte balance.
Athletes need to be strong and agile with a mental mindset that is unparalleled. To be a top athlete takes training in many areas. Strength and endurance are just the tip of the iceberg.
Much like balance training and jump training, athletes need to practice speed training. They need speed to win. Many great coaches understand this and try to incorporate speed training in their practices. However, many athletes want extra help in their training where the focus is all on speed. This is where speed camps come in. They are fun, fast and offer expertise in all the techniques of speed training.
If you are competing at upper levels in your sport then you understand what speed means. Often, the faster a player, the better the player. Speed camps offer the right speed, agility and acceleration techniques along with cutting edge principles, drills and exercises specifically designed to improve an athlete’s speed performance.
Developing super fast muscle fiber in the key muscle groups that are needed for speed and quickness is also part of the education process. They offer resistant speed training, which includes working out with weighted vests, and also sand sprinting and uphill running to increase time. Speed camps will also help you gain an understanding about why your current techniques are not working for you and may actually be working against you. If improving your speed will vastly improve your game, considering a speed camp will definitely be in your best interest.
Being able to jump high may be considered the most basic skill in basketball and volleyball, but it is also extremely necessary in other sports, such as football, rugby, soccer, diving and even baseball. Most athletes can benefit from being able to jump high. Some may be surprised to learn that being able to jump high is in fact a skill that one can train for and improve upon.
Jump training, as it is called, focuses on the strength and power from your upper body to your legs. To get a good spring, you need powerful muscles with muscle fibers that can shorten and stretch effectively. To increase your jumping height you need a strong upper body to offer support and provide you with the upward propulsion you’ll require.
Jump training is very similar to other areas of training. Warming up is always necessary to get your body physically prepared for any training. This could be in the form of light aerobic exercises such as jogging, walking or the use of stationary bikes. You want to slightly elevate your heart rate. You then want to do some light stretching on all your major muscle groups. Again, stretching is always important to prevent injury.
Jump training exercises include controlled movements such as squats, lunges, tuck jumps, box jumps and also power exercises that involve quick and forceful moves. These can be performed while using weights, but they needn’t be heavy. All these jumping and hopping skills will help with your strength and speed, which will increase your vertical jump.
If you are interested in improving your vertical or jumping abilities we are offering a free training session. Just submit your information below.
If you do not live in the greater chicagoland area and would like to improve your jumping abiities then please visit the jump manual for more information. It is a site dedicated in helping athletes jump higher.
Yes. It doesn’t matter if you are young, middle age or elderly, balance training should be incorporated into whatever exercise regime you regularly practice.
Everyone understands about keeping their heart healthy and their muscles strong and flexible, but if your balance system is out of whack, it can have devastating effects. Your balance system encompasses all your senses. It tells your brain how you are moving, where you are moving and your position in space. Your brain then allows your muscles to control your movements accordingly.
The balance system needs regular practicing. Children are good at this because they seem to be always doing some form of balancing. Whether they are hopping on one foot or walking a straight line with their eyes closed. They may be games, but they are working their balance systems. Balance training exercises are really quite easy and just a little bit of practice goes a long way. A few minutes each day can really aid in strengthening your balance system.
If you do suffer from dizziness and weakness or pain in your extremities, balance training will help you move with confidence while giving you more energy, strength coordination and a better posture. Request that your trainer incorporate more balance training into your workouts for a long, healthy and more balanced life!
The relationship between nutrition and sports performance is undeniable. As more research is done in understanding how our bodies best perform, it is becoming clear that supporting your exercise program with a healthy diet will not only support you athletically but also provide you with optimal health.
The research behind what it takes to achieve optimal health grows each day. Finding ways that our bodies can not only fight off diseases but also prevent them in the first place, through nutrition and exercising is very exciting. Eating the right foods in the right combination allows your body to become accustom to any exercise you perform.
Sports nutrition is about eating the proper amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fat while consuming plenty of water to fuel the body for optimal performance.
The American Dietetic Association has a terrific itemized list of what should be consumed before, during and after exercising:
Before you exercise:
• Consume a carbohydrate-rich snack or meal before exercise to top off muscle stores. With pre-competition jitters, liquid meal replacements may be a better choice than whole foods.
• Include small amounts of protein in your pre-exercise meal(s). Protein helps build and repair muscle tissue. Adequate protein before exercise may help reduce post-exercise muscle soreness.
• Choose pre-exercise meal(s) that are low in fat and fiber to ensure optimal digestion.
• Optimal fuel blend: Nutrition during prolonged exercise requires the proper mix and timing of fluids, carbohydrates, and electrolytes. Too little fluid or too much carbohydrates can result in cramping and other intestinal problems.
• Adequate fluids to replace sweat losses: Prevent excessive fluid loss (>2% body weight lost as fluid). Dehydration can cause fatigue and impair performance. Knowing your sweat rate will help you determine the right amount of fluid to drink.
• A plan tailored to YOUR needs: A nutrition plan based on YOUR needs can help maximize performance. Experiment with sports drinks and foods for different types of workouts and competitions. Record your tolerance to learn what works best.
For a quick recovery after exercising:
• Restore fluid and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) lost in sweat; weigh before and after exercise and replenish what was lost.
• Replace muscle fuel (carbohydrate) utilized during practice.
• Provide protein to aid in repair of damaged muscle tissue and to stimulate development of new tissue.
• Begin nutrition recovery with a snack or meal within 15-60 minutes following practice or competition.