Patrick van Luijk is an Olympic athlete and owner of RunningMates. Born in 1984 to a Jamaican father...
How to get the most out of training28 April 2015, by Patrick van Luijk
Patrick van Luijk is an Olympic athlete and owner of RunningMates - a business consultancy providing sports-based motivational and personal training.
Everyone wants a perfect body.
Achieving this goal depends on much more than just your body type, it is also depends on your attitude, how effectively you use your time, and the guidance you receive.
Here are five factors to remember when working towards your training goal.
1. Know your body type
One thing to do before you start training is to ask yourself the following question: "Do I know my body?" Or to be more specific, "Do I know my body type?"
Let’s find out. In the following image are three different body types:
› Ectomorph is lean, with narrow shoulders and hips.
› Mesomorph has a more musclar form.
› Endomorph is broader, with wider hips and shoulders.
There are not many people who have purely one body type, most people have a mix where one type is more dominant than the other. Try to recognise yourself in one of the three categories. If it is hard, try to think about how you would look without training.
The main reason to ask this question is to know what you are starting with and to use this knowledge to achieve the desired results for your body faster, easier and in a more healthy way.
2. Set realistic goals
Some people see and are inspired by photos on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook of models, athletes and the big transformations that normal people make. And they want that change, they want a body just like that.
The reality is that your body type is bound by nature. Yes, everybody can gain muscle, lose weight or get lean, but your body is going to react according to your original physical type, whether ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph.
It is possible to stretch the boundaries of nature, but do not expect to jump from an endomorph to a mesomorph.
3. Time is precious, use it effectively
Time is another important aspect to consider, as usually (and probably even most of the time), there is not much of it. Therefore using time in the most efficient way is often a key to success.
Athletes, models and even actors are training every day (often more than once a day) in order to create a body that suits them perfectly. That is a part of their job.
However, most people who want to train have a busy daily life - from work to family, to social obligations. In the little time left there is also a desire to work on one's health.
Therefore, making sure that the time spent training is effective and of high quality is really important.
A lot of people only think about training and forget important aspects such as massages and mobility for recovery. Every time you train you damage your muscles, so it is wise to help them to recover.
4. Don’t underestimate the importance of technique
One of the most important pillars within training is technique. In amateur training this part is highly underrated.
For Olympic athletes technique is key. In high level or professional sports the difference in talent, strength and insight is extremely small. By using their technique the right way, athletes lower the risk of injuries and increase the effectiveness of their skills.
What not to do in training - an example
For an example let’s take a favourite recreational sport which is easy to do and fits easily into the daily schedule: running. Now, let’s apply the previously discussed points and create a situation: imagine you start to train.
You hear everybody talking about running, you enjoy being outside and it’s easy to do after work. So you buy yourself a pair of shoes and start running, day after day.
It goes well and you start to run longer and faster. Suddenly you feel a minor pain, but choose to ignore it. You might guess what happens next... An injury that stops you from continuing to achieve your goals.
After you spend some days analysing what happened, you probably think you did too much when you last trained. If injuries happen often, or for longer periods of time, then you lose motivation. And motivation is key to training.
But pushing yourself too much during training is usually not the reason for your injury. The real reason for a training injury is a combination of:
Because you are still running with the same technique you have used since childhood.
› Bad defense
When placing so much strain on your body it is also very important that you improve recovery by massages and mobility.
› No guidance
Every person is unique. Training programmes should be adjusted to the person and not the other way around.
A lot of Olympic athletes understand the benefit of tailored programmes, work-outs and exercises over longer periods of time. That is why they would make excellent personal trainers.
5. Avoid injury with a variety of sports
By setting your goals high and taking no time to work on recovery, the reaction of your body or technique, it is just a matter of time before you get injured.
Also if you want to perform better in the sports you do, or if you want to get a fitter and stronger body, you should not limit yourself to just one type of sport.
Exercises like weightlifting, running, mobility work, stretching and jumping will improve your physical capabilities and recovery. What’s more, a body that is trained too specifically will become increasingly injury prone.
Keys for successful training
Even though you have probably heard and seen numerous examples of people who were forced to quit training due to an injury, and who failed to achieve their goals, it is not a reason to give up. Not just yet...
The keys to training success are knowing your body type; setting a realistic goal that is specifically in line with you; using the little time you have wisely; and learning from - and being guided by - the best about sports techniques as well as how to recover your body.
All of this will help you train injury-free and will keep you motivated until you achieve your goals - and go beyond them!
That’s how you get the most out of training!