Remember when Ben Johnson got busted for steroid use? How about the whole Barry Bonds episode in Major League Baseball? The point is people overwhelmingly felt cheated and taken advantage of; because these athletes that they trusted and looked up to turned out to be nothing more than liars. Steroids and other performance enhancing substances are simply forms of cheating. They provide an unfair advantage over athletes that are clean and not using.
With competitive sports being as high speed and fast paced as it is today; many athletes are simply looking for an edge or a shortcut. The bottom line is there are no short cuts. Today’s athletes can get the competitive edge however. Here are some ways that a competitive athlete can get the edge over their competition.
1. The mental edge – There is no greater weapon than that of the mind of someone who is mentally focused, disciplined and sharp. The ability to stay convicted and abstain from all of the shortcuts like steroids and other illegal drugs is integral in gaining the edge, discipline and mental endurance to be able to to take the harsh punishment of the long road and keep moving forward. The focused and disciplined mind is what will direct the athlete to the winners circle.
2. Proper training – There is no substitute for training smart and hard. The right training and taking all of the necessary steps never short cutting is where the athletes individual skills are developed for competition. This means not taking days off, just because of boredom; which also goes back to the “Mental edge”.
3. Strength training – Its necessary to develop the corresponding muscles used in the athlete’s particular sport. If the athlete trains in an endurance event then the strength training should focus on high repetitions. If the athlete is a powerlifter then explosive movements should be practiced. The bottom line is that the muscles of the body need to be trained correctly.
4. Cardio conditioning – The heart and lungs are key in athletic training these two organs help determine how efficiently the athlete utilizes oxygen. Also cardio training helps prevent or prolong the crippling effects of fatigue.Proper cardio training aids in speedy recovery!
5. Diet and nutrition – This is very important!!! Everyone has heard of the expression you are what you eat. This is a true expression. If you eat lots of fat; you will be. If you eat sugars, then you will experience constant ups and downs in energy spikes. An athlete should eat a relatively lean diet rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and protein!! Bottom line don’t go overboard and stay balanced.
6. Hydration – The body is comprised of 75% water. When one exercises they lose water in the form of sweat. When the body loses water it also loses salts and other essential nutrients / electrolytes that keep the body’s batteries charged. Water also helps transport the nutrients of the food in your stomach being digested to the right areas of the body where they are needed.
6. Rest and recovery – You can train as hard and as often as you want; but if you don’t get proper sleep and rest enough; you will pay the price. Everyone is different. some people need only 6 hours of sleep and others need 12. Find out how much rest and sleep you need and apply it to your training program. The bottom line here is sleep is when your body replenishes, recovers, repairs and builds. You need rest.
Most athletes train extremely vigorously on a pro and semi pro level. Hard intense training causes the body to use and lose key nutrients and minerals which must be supplemented in order to keep up to healthy levels. Training is stress and many top athletes put extreme amounts of stress on their minds and bodies. Stress can tear the body apart slowly. Along with diet training and rest, there are supplements. Supplements are just that they help supplement what you already do naturally.
7. Supplementation – There is a vast array of Protein Creatine, vitamins B, C, etc. etc. on the market. These supplements are out there because with intense training and a proper diet alone the body can not bring it’s level of these supplements up to needed levels alone. Supplements are not Steroids and they are not performance enhancing drugs. they should be used with caution and doctor supervision.