Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Strength and conditioning and Nutrition mistakes

5 Nutritional and Strength and Conditioning
Mistakes to Avoid in the Sport of Triathlon

By Justin Levine, Owner, Head Fitness Coach at
California Fitness Academy, www.justintrain.com

The sport of triathlon is a very specific event that is growing as we speak. Many individuals are embarking on the lifestyle of constant training, continuingly watching what goes into their bodies, and always finding that slight edge over the competition. Below are five mistakes that triathletes are consistently making on a daily basis. Work on correcting these mistakes and watch your performance soar.

1. Not lifting any weights. This is probably the most common mistake among triathletes. Most triathletes think lifting weights will get them bulky and inflexible. But in all actuality lifting weights the correct way will enhance your performance, reduce injury, and correct imbalances. The sport of triathlon is very demanding on the body. Overuse injuries occur because most individuals are not functionally strong. They can swim, bike and run all day long but have them do a push-up and it will be extremely tough. You need to be a strong athlete, all around. When you think of lifting weights to enhance your performance, do not think of excessive weight lifting; instead, think of hip mobility drills, shoulder stabilizing exercises, single leg squats, chin-ups, push-ups, single leg dead lifts, and core stabilization work (plank/side plank are the most common exercises to increase stabilization of the trunk). What you do in the gym will assist you out in the water or on the road. So put together a plan and execute. Talk with an educated strength coach with experience in endurance sports strength and conditioning and he/she will guide you in the right direction.

2. Not eating enough protein. Again, this is another regular mistake among triathletes. The common triathlete definitely eats plenty of carbohydrates: Pastas, fruits, breads, vegetables, and rice are your main source of energy throughout the week. It is vital to stay at full tank with your carbohydrates but it is also very crucial to eat plenty of protein. Protein will help you increase lean muscle mass, burn unwanted body fat, and recover faster and more efficient after long training sessions. When you have more lean mass and less body fat, you race faster. I have clients who suffer in their workouts and do not recover properly because they are eating a low amount of protein. A general guideline for triathletes for protein intake is eating at least ½ - ¾ of a gram per pound of body weight. So a 150 pound female should eat 75-112 grams of protein a day. The more training someone is doing, the more protein should be consumed throughout the day. Figure out your nutrient needs and you will increase your performance.

3. Overtraining. Most triathletes are “A” type personalities and want to do everything it takes to increase their performance. A huge limiter to getting better at the sport of triathlon is overtraining. Too many athletes spend way too much time spinning their tires and never moving forward. They dig themselves into a hole that is very hard to get out of. They are constantly training hard. But the question is, “are they training efficient?” I learned that training smart and not “hard” is definitely the way to go. You must be able to read your body and know if you have symptoms of overtraining. Interrupted or inconsistent sleep, nagging injuries, lack of performance, daily fatigue, decrease in appetite, lack of motivation to train, and persistent muscle soreness are just some symptoms of overtraining. Remember, training should be fun, positive, and keep you healthy. And unless you are a professional, this is not your profession, so you need to know when you body is not feeling 100%. When you get to that point take some time to rest and recover, which brings me to my next point.

4. Rest/Recovery/Regenerate. This is also a limiter to increasing your performance. You have to remember that no matter how many training hours you put in, if you get hurt, you can’t train. When you can’t train, you can not get better. So resting and recovering is an important aspect of the sport that needs attention. You must schedule rest days during the week. The body is not meant to train 24 hours, 7 days a week. You need time to get off your feet, rest your mind, and rest your body. If you do not schedule rest and recovery time, you will quickly burn out and will lose the motivation to train and ultimately get hurt. Regeneration is also significant. Foam rolling and massage, consistent stretching, active release techniques, and ice baths are just a few recovery techniques you must implement into your training regimen on a daily basis. The body can be a fined tuned machine but if it breaks down you will not be able to get to the level you set out for. So pay attention and listen to your body.

5. Forgetting post-workout nutrition. I have many clients that workout extremely hard. Then I ask them what their nutrition plan is after the workout is over and they give me a blank stare. Most people will wait or forget to eat after a workout is completed. You are defeating the whole purpose of working out if you do not have a post-workout meal planned. When you workout, you break down muscle tissue and deplete muscle glycogen. In order to recover properly, and start preparing yourself for your next workout, you absolutely need a post-workout recovery meal. You have a 30 minute window after a workout is over to replenish what your body depleted during the workout. Some good, quick choices to choose from are: a glass of low fat chocolate milk, a whey (fast acting) protein shake, a piece of fruit with a glass of milk, or a protein bar that is a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Once you get in your post-workout meal within 30 minutes, then you can have a more substantial meal, like a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, a lean chicken breast with some brown rice and vegetables, or some yogurt with some fruit. You will see the difference in your training, your performance, and your overall vitality by being consistent with your post-workout nutrition plan.

The sport of triathlon is a great way to stay healthy, fit and energized in your daily life. If you continue to train hard, remember to train smart. Work on your limiters and weaknesses and strive to get better. Be patient, be consistent, and stay motivated and you will be on your way to success.

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