The 3 Pillars of High-Performance Training When Working Out at Home
The coronavirus pandemic has hugely impacted nearly all aspects of our daily life – social, professional, and even our training routine. It’s been a handful of months since the COVID-19 crisis first took control of our lives, and even if the lockdown rules have now relaxed a bit, returning to the gym still isn’t a good idea as the virus is still spreading like wildfire.
Thus, the only option for us is to adapt our workout routine to this new way of life and continue working out at home. For a serious performance athlete who’s used to training at the gym or outdoors, this is a nightmare. But like it or not, this is how things are going to be for the foreseeable future.
Now, you may already have set up your home gym and chalked out a home workout plan that keeps you on the right track with regards to your fitness goals, but if you wish to continue progressing and maintain high performance in your workouts, you can’t forget the following three pillars of high performance training.
Training and Injury Prevention
When working out at home, it is important to focus on building total-body strength and flexibility. Instead of strategically working out each muscle group and doing compound exercises, it is easy to make the mistake of inadvertently focusing on just certain areas of the body each day, due to the lack of equipment or planning.
Doing so will result in irregular muscle development and may even cause muscle strain. So even if you lack proper equipment, your best bet is to plan a weekly workout routine wherein you target all muscle groups, one or two days for each group, with adequate resting time for each group, and at least one day of complete rest. If your goal is to lose weight, include two days of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) along with strength training. HIIT is ideal for weight loss and can be done anywhere, no equipment needed.
But at the same time, it is crucial to have a proper progression. Don’t get ahead of yourself with too many reps or too much weight as overexerting may cause anything from torn muscles or ligaments to excessive, prolonged soreness that forces you to rest for weeks or even months on end, consequently bringing your progress to a complete halt.
Indeed, it is better to progress slowly and steadily instead of burning yourself out and risking a serious injury. Furthermore, the majority of injuries affecting ligaments (knees, shoulders, etc) are a consequence of underdeveloped muscles that can’t provide enough support to corresponding ligaments, along with a lack of proper form. So, make sure to focus on your form when lifting weights and do some stretching to warm up those muscles.
Additionally, another common cause of injury is a lack of flexibility. Strength and flexibility go hand in hand. In order to avoid spending time off due to an injury, see to it that you are working towards better flexibility and avoiding muscle imbalance in your workouts. Also, make sure to choose the right rubber surface for your home training that provides excellent traction and avoids slip related injuries.
Diet and Nutrition
There is an absolute abundance of varying information out there on the “correct diet” fitness lovers should follow. With so much compelling and sometimes conflicting information available, it can be really challenging to pick through all of the noise.
At the risk of adding to that noise, just bear in mind that everyone’s body reacts differently to the nutrients we consume. It is best to spend some time researching what works best for you personally and what nutrients you need the most for achieving your fitness goals. Having said that, there are some generally agreed-upon best practices when it comes to nutrition:
– Find out your body’s сaloric needs regularly and stick to it. Caloric requirements will fluctuate as you change your training routine based on whether you want to bulk or cut.
– Carbs and fats will largely be the source of your energy during workouts. And, of course, protein is a must for muscle recovery and growth. So, make sure to have adequate consumption of these macronutrients.
– Drink plenty of water. Dodge dehydration and muscle cramps by staying hydrated at all times.
While specific diets like low-carb and keto are scientifically proven to help with weight loss, as a rule of thumb, it’s best to fuel your training with the right combination of all macros instead of drastically cutting down on any one of them. That’s the key to sustainable results in the long run.
Rest and Sleep
As already discussed, rest is an important part of high performance training. Sufficient rest and sleep allow your body the time it needs to make repairs to worn-out muscles so you can start tearing them up again without risking injury, as well as replenishing energy stores.
You tear muscle fibers in your workouts and repair and grow stronger muscle while you rest. So, recovery time is just as vital to a fitness regimen, which is why you should pay attention to your sleep schedule.
“We exercise for a purpose: for cardiovascular health, to increase lean muscle mass, to improve endurance, and more. All of these ‘goals’ require sleep,” says W. Christopher Winter, MD, a renowned sleep specialist, researcher, and president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine. “Getting enough sleep can not only give you more drive and strength to maximize your workout, but its effects on concentration, mood, and focus can make you more efficient and better prepared for that workout,” explains Winter.
Simply put, having a complete rest day with no workout allows your muscles to recover and bounce back stronger than before. Luckily, one of the benefits of consistent workouts is a higher likelihood that your sleep pattern will be sound. That is, due to exhaustion, your body will automatically fall asleep at the same time each night and you’ll have an optimal circadian rhythm.
As if the first wave of the virus wasn’t enough, the hasty decision of easing the lockdown by governments around the world has seriously increased the likelihood of another, deadlier wave of the virus and thus, future lockdowns that keep us stuck inside our homes for months to come.
Consistent training habits with injury prevention, nutritional planning, and sufficient sleep are the three pillars of sustainable performance training. So regardless of what happens (whether you return to the gym soon or not), just make sure to keep these three pillars of high performance training in mind, and you’ll always be on track to achieving your fitness goals.