Want to be able to run faster, jump higher or just train more efficiently? We’re not all created equal when it comes to exercising, but like any skill, better technique and methods can help you achieve your full potential and who better to talk me through some pro training tips than former Great Britain Heptathlete and Bobsledder, Caroline Pearce.
1 MAKE IT ENJOYABLE
Above anything else, Caroline encourages you to find a sport which you’ll enjoy and believes you’re more likely to stick with it if you’re engaged! Think about how you want to train, do you like exercising alone or with a friend, do you enjoy a team sport or mixing it up? Do you like things organised or prefer a more casual approach? The key here is to do what you love, and love what you do!
2 THINK ABOUT IT
Visualise your end goal, top athletes know a positive mindset makes a world of difference. Create a vision board of images and phrases which inspire you, pin up images of workout clothing that motivates you, or if your goal is more aesthetic, pin an athlete’s body you want to aim for, whether it be a long jumper or a sprinter, think about what they do to get those bodies and reinforce positive self-talk, breathing exercises and meditation, which are all useful tactics and a good motivator for the goals you set.
3 KNOW THY WAY
Caroline says we all have an inner athlete inside us wanting to high-jump it’s way out onto the track but give it some direction and write your goals down. Remember to break them down into smaller short-term goals, which are achievable and realistic.
4 EAT CLEAN
Make a conscious effort to eat the right foods to suit your training, remember that everything you put in your body is fuel so Caroline advises you to ditch the preservatives and chemicals and adopt a diet that’s as clean and healthy as possible.
5 WARM-UP SMART
At the commencement of any exercise your body needs to make a number of adjustments including elevating your breathing and heart rate, increasing blood flow to the muscles to supply them with more oxygen and preparing your muscles for stretching. Caroline says that in a warm-up, athlete’s often mimic the movement patterns they’re about to perform at a lower intensity and dynamic stretching is one way to do this. If you want to sprint, begin walking, then increase the intensity to a slow jog, progress into some skipping drills and high knees. Caroline says that specificity is key, so make sure to warm-up the muscles you’re about to use properly.
6 MIX IT UP
Athletes have a lot of variety in their training schedules, one day could be spent in the gym working on strength conditioning, the next could be out on the track running through sprint drills and plyometric exercises. Caroline advises that in order to keep your body guessing and avoid the dreaded ‘plateau’, which happens when your workout stays the same, the best thing to do is to mix up your training and don’t be afraid to keep pushing yourself, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve if you give yourself a chance.
7 JUMP TO IT
The best bang for your buck! Plyometrics are quick, explosive exercises which help to enhance power and give you short bursts of high intensity. Try bounding, high knees, squat jumps, lateral cone jumps, burpees and skipping, Caroline’s tip here – double leg skipping is just like doing hundreds of jumps, while alternating legs is less intensity on the joints. If that wasn’t reason enough to start incorporating plyometrics into your training schedule, maybe this will tip the scale – because of the high intensity and the elevation of your heart rate during exercise, you actually burn more calories in recovery, meaning you generate a metabolic ripple effect that will burn fat for many hours after your workout has ended!
8 STABILISE YOURSELF
A must for all athletes is to dedicate work to muscle and joint stabilisation, an area Caroline feels is massively overlooked. Decrease the risk of injuries and imbalances to your ankles and knees by incorporating stabilising exercises into your routine. Without good stabilising muscle function, physical stress from daily activities can cause damage. Incorporate more unilateral exercises into your training such as single-leg balances, single-leg squats and step-ups.
9 ADD SPEED & INTENSITY
Nearly all athletes, whether it be track, netball or football, require a basic level of cardiovascular endurance and one way to build this is by introducing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your workout. HIIT training can best be described as any workout which alternates between intense bursts of effort with short recoveries, such as a hill sprint followed by a walk back down.
Caroline’s book ‘Better Body Workouts for Women’ available online at Amazon
Caroline’s DVD box set ‘TOTAL BODY COLLECTION’ available online at Amazon