Follow these 5 easy steps, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a slower, weaker, burned-out athlete.
1. Don’t Sleep
Arguably the easiest step to becoming a worse athlete, don’t get enough sleep! Most already do this without even trying. But while sleep is important for human beings in general, it is essential for athletes. While you sleep, your body metabolizes glucose, which helps your muscles recover from a hard training session. So if you’re getting less than the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night, your muscles won’t recover as quickly. Awesome, right? But that’s not all—lack of sleep can also lead to moodiness and anxiety, which can affect your performance on game day. Bottom line: don’t sleep enough, and you will DEFINITELY be able to tell a difference in your athletic performance – the wrong kind of difference.
2. Don’t Rest
Rest refers not to sleep, but to taking a purposeful break from training. And it’s one of the quickest ways to deteriorate your athletic ability. Taking rest days—complete days when you’re not even doing active recovery or cross-training—gives your body a chance to repair small tears in muscle caused by resistance training, and build new muscle tissue from protein ingested after training. Your muscles need a pause from the constant breakdown that occurs when you strength-train in order to rebuild themselves stronger. By skipping your rest days and going all-out in the gym 24/7, you’ll be on your way to developing symptoms of overtraining: extreme muscle soreness, extreme fatigue, depression, and susceptibility to illness and injury. Awesome, right? So build in rest days or you’ll be the coolest athlete wearing a knee brace or missing practice from a sinus infection.
3. Don’t Eat
Yeah, just stop eating. Your body needs the nutrients and energy in food to do basically everything: repair organs, fight off diseases, and build muscle. If you really want to see a decline in your athletic performance, simply stop eating enough calories to maintain your high activity level! Not eating enough is a simple, easy way to sabotage your athletic career—closely followed by eating the wrong stuff. Meeting your calorie requirements solely with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos will definitely leave you not feeling like sprinting for your full 90-min soccer game. 2,500 calories worth of Vanilla milkshake never makes my long runs any easier. Oh, don’t eat after training either. Physical activity depletes muscles of glycogen, made from carbohydrates, so if you want to make your muscles sore and mad, don’t eat anything within 30 minutes to 2 hours after training.
4. Don’t Warm-Up
Make sure you go into practice, the gym, or the competition completely cold, and you’ll be well on your way to injury and decreased performance.
5. Don’t Train on a Periodized Program
Periodization programming peaks athletes for their sport at just the right time. DO NOT do this if you hate being amazing. Don’t train on a periodized, customized, sport-specific training program. A periodized program means that your workouts change depending on the day, week, and season of your athletic year—off-season training looks a lot different from pre-season training, because your body needs different types of conditioning for these phases. To train to perform during a given season, you must be using a periodized training program. If you go into the gym and do the same workout, same rep count, same weight, over and over again, your body will stop responding to the stimuli of training and you will plateau!
And there you have it! 5 easy ways to instantly become a worse athlete. Practice each one faithfully, and I promise you will never be the best athlete on your team—and that’s a guarantee!