We tasked our DNAFit sports scientist with giving us insight into what athletes do in terms of their fitness and nutrition in order to stay at the highest level and always be on top of their game. Below you’ll find helpful tips and tricks to implement into your own daily life regarding what you eat and how you exercise, so that you too can reach peak performance and fulfil your fitness potential.
Fitness testing - most athletes use fitness testing to gain insight into their strengths and weakness by comparing results to other successful athletes in their sporting code. Not only can you spot which areas you can improve but it also helps monitor your progress over a period of time. For non-athletes looking to measure their own results this is important when continuous improvement becomes paramount to success.
Conditioning - look at your current training plan, identify where your efforts are being waste and where you can improve it. That also means being able to remove drills or exercises that don't lead to any steady or incremental improvements in your performance. Having proper training plans in place that help aid your performance allow you more control over training correctly. For example, amateur footballers tend to focus on skills and endurance performance. They often neglect other elements of their fitness such as strength and endurance, speed and power and agility and flexibility, which contribute to becoming an elite footballer.
Nutrition- Food provides you with fuel that helps you to achieve your optimal performance. Are you eating quality, beneficial food or consuming things that interfere with your performance? Choose foods which help fuel your body and improve performance rather than foods that delay your recovery time or have a negative impact on your performance. Good nutrition should provide you with enough energy and nutrients to meet the demands of training and exercise and enhance adaptation and recovery between training sessions. Include a wide variety of foods like wholegrain breads and cereals, vegetables (particularly leafy green varieties), fruit, lean meat and low-fat dairy products to enhance long-term nutrition habits. Also provide adequate fluids to ensure maximum hydration before, during and after exercise. A balanced diet is crucial in maintaining performance levels.
Cross training - have you seen cricket players play football or volleyball? That's a bit weird, right? Maybe on the surface but cross training can be beneficial in improving your performance. Cross training also allows you to vary the stress placed on specific muscles. This serves to condition your muscle groups to react in different ways to different training methods, develop a new set of skills, and reduce boredom that normally occurs after months of doing the same training plan. The adaptation can also be beneficial for your cardiovascular system and aerobic capacity. For example, a runner maintaining overall fitness levels by using swimming and cycling to help improve his aerobic capacity, builds strength and prevents overuse injuries because these activities train different muscle groups in a different manner than just running would do. So don’t box yourself in to one type of training plan. Try new things and expand your skillset in order to maximize your success.
Injury management and prevention - monitoring your training loads is crucial to see what works best for you as well as help you avoid and even prevent injuries. Most athletes have a trainer or sport scientist who helps monitor their training loads, fatigue levels and recovery time to reduce overtraining or burnout, which might increase injury risk and affect an athlete’s performance. Monitoring can be done through athlete monitoring apps or software such as FITSTATS performance. You can monitor your own training as well and by effectively managing your loads, you’ll be more likely to find that optimum training method that just works for you.
Exploring your genes - genetically-matched training is proven to be 3 times more effective than mismatched training. It is used by athletes around the world including Olympian Greg Rutherford and Barcelona FC football players.
Genetic tests for fitness and nutrition can help you to find out the optimum nutrition and training regimen that is suitable to your genes – which are very much responsible for who you are and how you react to your environment.
They can also be helpful in injury prevention and recovery.
You can read more about genetic testing for fitness and nutrition here.