For most people, working out is simply a way to improve health and longevity. And that’s probably its most important function. But let’s be honest, there is another level. Having worked with so many people, from so many different backgrounds, we can honestly say that food is only a small part of what gets you there. Think about the most athletic people you know – do they tend to be too restrictive with the way they eat? Some people find it frustrating, but it’s actually the missing piece for a lot of people. These top notch athletes must be doing something different right?
Since we work with professional athletes all of the time, we know what makes them tick. So, here’s a list of some of the things that we see professional athletes do that our other clients don’t.
1. They don’t look for a quick fix
The best athletes have been working on their health for a long, long time. They’ve been dedicated to their craft for years, or in some cases decades. It’s simply unreasonable to give up on a dream because you couldn’t make it happen in a matter of weeks. Likewise, if you’re dissatisfied with your results, you won’t improve by throwing in the towel. You need to be in it for the long haul.
2. They know where they are, where they want to go, and how to get
The best athletes move from goal to goal, constantly setting their sites on new horizons to maintain a sense of interest along the way. Even if they aren’t competing, they are training for something.
If you find yourself in a state of listlessness with no clear direction of where you’re going, do not despair. Set a goal like putting 50 lbs on your squat or PRing your Fran time, give yourself a realistic deadline (3-6 months), and commit to it. Picking out a sport to compete in and entering a competition is a great way to motivate yourself and remain accountable too. If competition doesn’t seem worthwhile because you don’t want to embarrass yourself, remember that your first and foremost competition is you.
3. They don’t try to reach their goals by cutting calories.
The best athletes are rarely looking to be in a calorie deficit – they view food as a way to enhance work capacity and they focus on maintaining and building the muscle they are earning in the gym.
4. They don’t obsess over their abs
An ultra endurance athlete, elite powerlifter, and beer enthusiast once said “The best athletes I know don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about how to get abs; the work they do ultimately just lands them in that spot.” Our opinion is very similar. We believe that form follows function, and that if you want to look athletic, you need to BE athletic. Stop worrying about your abs, focus on performance, and things will fall into place.
5. They don’t worry about putting on body fat due to overeating
Fat is easy to lose but muscle is hard to gain. Most athletes spend a good part of their life chasing the latter and so they don’t have to worry so much about the former. For that reason, the best athletes in the world actively seek out weight gain. They do this by lowering their activity level and building their bodies for a specific result. In that process, they often intentionally put on a bit of fat.
The best way to say it is “ass moves mass”. Want to squat more? You need to put a lot of quality work into developing your quads and glutes, perfecting your form, and increasing your work capacity. That cannot be accomplished in a Calorie deficit, and it’s a lot harder to do if you’re worried about your scale weight.
6. They don’t feel guilty when they miss workouts
The fittest people take time off or reduce their work volume as part of the plan to get better. When you’re pushing the limit of human performance, rest isn’t just beneficial – it’s necessary. Yeah, if you’re chronically missing workouts and you haven’t been to the gym in months, you might want to do something about it and work on your time management…but don’t feel guilty if you have to push a workout a day late or you miss one session after months of consistency. Consider it extra recovery and get back at it hungrier than you were before.
7. They constantly seek out new information and develop a broad
Elite athletes honestly don’t have access to any training, nutrition, or motivational materials that your average person doesn’t – especially with the invention of the internet. But they are constantly studying and applying new methods. Start following some nutrition and training blogs. Read them religiously. You can also go talk to your favorite physical therapist – they have years of training and experience dedicated to this exact thing and are ready to help you reach your goals.