Welcome to this new series of blogs ‘Athletic training for average Joes’:
Have you ever wondered what makes the training that athletes perform different from your own training?
Do you ever question how they can perform such feats of strength, speed and skill?
How could you could benefit from training like an athlete?
Over the course of the next 12 weeks, we will release new parts of the series. They will be released every other week. At the end you will have the chance to receive a FREE athletic training programme that you can use to help you become fitter, stronger and leaner.
How to use this series
The purpose of the ‘Athletic training for average Joes’ series will be to introduce you to the types of training athletes introduce into their programmes. You’ll get to understand why it would be beneficial to include these types of training into your own programme.
A common mistake is to assume that you already must be super fit to introduce this training. But that’s simply not true. Pretty much all exercise can be scaled back to suit you as a beginner and progressed as you develop in your own fitness journey. Over the course of this series you will learn several different techniques and strategies that you can choose to implement. And, as mentioned above, in the final blog of the series you will get the opportunity to receive a free training programme constructed using all the principles from across the series.
First, I should introduce myself, and help explain why you should listen to what I have to say across this series. My name is Haydn. I am a coach at Life Force Fitness. Having worked in the fitness industry for over a decade has seen me hold several roles. I started out as a general fitness instructor but worked my way up into senior fitness roles, as well as becoming a general manager of a gym.
With my previous employer, I was regularly in the top 5 personal trainers across the company, which included close to 2000 personal trainers. I was one of the first ‘Senior Wellbeing Advisors’ in the company based on my level of knowledge and experience. To earn this title, I had to deliver a case study with a client over 3 months, pass a written exam, an oral exam and hold in interview with the company’s head of fitness education.
The next level
Alongside my main work, I invested in my own education and became a level 2 strength and conditioning (S&C) coach. An S&C coach is a PT for athletes: they will work with either solo athletes or teams to plan and implement their training on a daily basis to ensure they are at peak performance for their chosen sport. To become an S&C coach you need to have an extended knowledge of physiology and anatomy, advanced exercise techniques and programming and periodisation. As an S&C coach, it is your job to ensure each athlete is in their prime physical shape to perform at their best. With all things being equal, it’s the fitness of the athlete that determines their level of success.
Once I had passed my S&C course, I was invited to become one of the teaching staff for the company. I would hold level 1 and level 2 courses where I would teach other fitness professionals the skills required to progress in their profession. These would be held over weekends and I would meet with the company director to discuss performance of individuals and make recommendations on their next stages of progression.
So, alongside my main job as a personal trainer working with the general public to achieve their goals, I also worked with several athletes to help them improve their performance in their chosen sports. The sports ranged from indoor rowing to golf, powerlifting to mixed martial arts. I would work alongside their physios as well as skills coaches to make sure each athlete was working optimally
My personal advantage
Where I feel I have an edge on other S&C coaches, is the fact that during this time, I was also a competitive athlete. I have been involved in sports for over 20 years and competed over the last 15. I have competed in multiple sports from amateur to professional level.
My main background comes from combat sports: MMA, boxing, judo, jiu jitsu, muay thai, karate and kickboxing. Over the years I have had hundreds of competitions, from inter-club level (this is competition between clubs, no audience but you could have several matches in 1 day) to amateur and professional level. I also used to play basketball and rugby for my college. More recently, I competed in physique sports of powerlifting, bodybuilding and strongman.
My exposure to ‘both sides of the coin’ has allowed me to not only understand why coaches get athletes to do certain things, but I’ve also experienced the benefit of doing these things myself. Not only that, but I’ve taken part in a range of sports, That means I’ve been able to witness this application and results process in difference fields, rather than in one solo field.
It’s this experience and knowledge I bring to my clients, and I will be bringing here to this series of articles.
What separates athletes from general population?
There are quite a few factors that go into an athlete’s day to day life. That is why they are high performers. Below I will list what makes them different from average joes and explain how they are able to perform at the levels they do.
This is something that has to be taken into consideration. Some people are naturally gifted in certain aspects. They are also lucky that they chose a sport or activity that allows them to take advantage of this. For example, Usain Bolt, fastest man on the planet. He genetically had the right make up of muscle fibres, limb lengths, leavers and mechanics which make him able to accelerate and build up to speeds most of us physically can’t comprehend. If you look at World’s Strongest Man competitors, they are all naturally giants who will tell tales of their strength as kids without even training.
Now, that’s not to say you can’t work hard to be great. The old saying goes “hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard”. You can still get amazing results if you apply yourself to achieving them.
The day to day life of a professional athlete is all about their performance. This is the typical daily set up of a professional athlete, having worked with athletes on a professional level and knowing some on a personal one:
- Wake up, have breakfast and prep.
- Morning training. This is usually fitness based and can last between 2-3 hours.
- Early lunch followed by a nap.
- Physio or recovery – massages, sauna, hot and cold treatment and 1-1 with a physio (if injured).
- Evening snack (and sometimes evening nap).
- Evening training. For most this is sport specific and skill based over fitness, but fitness will also be an element. If it’s a team-based sport this is where they will work together, or if it is an individual sport it will focus on skill and improving weakness. This session can also last several hours
- Evening meal, wind down and bedtime.
As mentioned above, most professional athletes will receive some sort of recovery treatment daily. This will include sports massage 3-5 times per week, possibly daily hot and cold treatment, and physio sessions if needed.
Nutrition is a big part of recovery so they will have a specific nutrition plan laid out for them and, in some cases, meals provided to them to match their needs.
Essentially, every session an athlete performs will be conducted under the watchful eye of their coach. This means that they have access to their own PT every time they step in the gym. This has multiple benefits: they can get corrective advice on the spot; they get motivated and directed start to finish; someone is there to tell them what to do. That’s not just what exercise to do, but what weight to use and, more importantly, to make sure they do the little things most of us find boring and tend to neglect.
The biggest separation between ‘them’ and ‘us’….
The most important factor is that their sport is their job. This comes with two key points.
First, they get paid to do it
Just think, right now, what is your main reason for exercising? For most of us it’s basically to look good naked (shameful, but true). We want to have less body fat and more muscle tone.
Now, if you were to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being not important and 10 being I MUST do it, where do you rate your fitness goal? Now, consider your lifestyle. You no doubt have a full-time job, you may have a family, you may have a limited spare income, all these factors affect your ability to achieve your fitness goals.
If you wanted to match the lifestyle of a professional athlete, here’s a basic list of things to consider:
- Training twice a day for up to 2 hours each time. Let’s say at least 1x per day with a trainer.
- Having a 45-minute massage every other day.
- Enough food to allow you to perform at high output levels (because of the additional amount of work you would be doing).
- At least 8 hours sleep per night and ideally one or two 20-minute naps during the day.
Considering the costs of the daily PT sessions, three sports massages and the food bill, you would be looking at a rough outlay of £450 per week. Professional athletes get paid to do this stuff. They earn high wages and get the training and therapy as part of their ‘work’. So, as a ‘average joe’, you have to scale back some of our input to match your lifestyle. That being said, the training can still emulate that of an athlete to get the results.
But this is the second key point
If athletes don’t perform, they don’t get paid. In a lot of cases, especially if you are in a team sport, poor performance can lead to you being removed from your team and losing your position. If the team performs badly, you can run the risk of losing your current status. For example, with football, your team could drop to a lower league, which brings lower wages.
Think of it like this, using the above example. Let’s say your goal was to lose 2 stones in 3 months. If you were told you would lose your job in 3 months if you did not achieve your 2 stone goal, I guarantee you would pull out all the stops to achieve that goal. Applying that level of importance and commitment to a health and fitness goal can be the difference between succeeding and failing.
The point to all the above is that anybody, given the right guidance, opportunity and motivation could train like a professional athlete. Now, you may not be able to live the lifestyle, but you can benefit from most of the training methods and techniques in your own training to get better results in a shorter time frame. Setting a goal date always helps to keep you accountable and on track to achieve your goal. You may not end up playing for your favourite team but utilising the information over this series will help you burn more fat, tone muscle, increase your strength and perform better in the gym.
Over this ‘Athletic training for average Joes’ series we are going to cover the following areas:
Understanding the principles of plyometric training and how to schedule and perform them correctly to increase your performance. This is one that I regularly see implemented in training plans but performed incorrectly. I will show you exactly how to do this to get the best results.
The barbell clean
A popular exercise for athletes which can be utilised for any goal. I will explain the benefits and show you the different methods to perform a barbell clean. It can be a difficult one to master, so I will talk you through the different progression methods and explain which one is best to suit your goal. As pointed out in our previous article relating to ‘10 best metabolism boosting exercises‘, the clean or a variation of it appeared 3 times, making up 1/3 of the list.
A method not often seen in commercial gyms, however a very beneficial training method. It will not only increase your maximal strength but also help you beat any technical sticking points in movements. Requiring minimal equipment and, in some cases, just body weight, adding this to your programme can be a real game changer.
High Intensity Interval Training is a great tool for metabolic conditioning. Improve fitness and incinerate body fat by using this method correctly. As with plyometrics, I see people utilise what they think is HIIT but, in reality, doesn’t match the criteria. I will explain how.
Programming of training
Understand the relationship between intensity, volume, frequency and recovery and why less might be more in terms of results. This is probably the most complex part of training for people to understand. I will show you my method to help you fully understand. More importantly, it will allow you to create your own programmes once you understand its application.
This ‘Athletic training for average Joes’ series of articles will help you reap the benefits of incorporating what are considered advanced methods into your own training. Whether you’re
- A gym regular who has hit a plateau,
- A seasoned vet looking to take your training to the next level, or
- A weekend athlete looking to improve your performance in your given field,
the methods I’ll introduce you to, included in full or separately, will improve your results. As explained, at the end of the Athletic training for average Joes series, you will get the opportunity to receive a free training template at the end of the series.
Do you already like the sound of strength and conditioning? Do you want to work directly with me in one of our programmes? Please get in touch to arrange a free consultation.