Our top five bitesize chunks of training advice will help you get more from your sessions, train harder and avoid injuries.
From the best athletes in the world to regular gym-goers, the following five points are applicable for all.
Take these onboard and you can’t go too far wrong:
The natural human instinct is to keep on training and training, pushing yourself as hard as you can.
Ultimately, though, if you adopt this approach – you will eventually grind your body to a halt.
Adequate rest allows your body to fully recover from intense physical activity, reduce inflammation and give muscles the opportunity to build and regenerate.
Rest in-between sessions will help your body stay fresh and avoid injury. As will practices like using ice baths or simply a foam roller.
This is applicable to the very best athletes – from Cristiano Ronaldo to Andy Murray – rest and recovery is absolutely vital to high performance levels.
MIX UP YOUR TRAINING ROUTINE
Variety is the spice of life and all.
Avoid getting bored or fed up of your training programme by mixing things up as much as possible, changing training locations and disciplines.
For example, if you’re a runner – mix up your running routes to keep your workouts fresh and mind active.
If you’re a gymer, the same rule of thumb applies, i.e. complete arm sets one day, legs the next – it’s generally just good to keep your brain guessing and you’ll see the long-term benefits.
AVOID USING YOUR MOBILE PHONE
This is a classic and just common sense.
Okay, so we’re all guilty of looking at our phones during a training session sometimes, but try and just keep your phone in the changing room.
Constantly checking and replying to messages, changing music track and not switching off from the world will slow down the intensity of your training dramatically.
By using your phone, you could spend up to 20 minutes more in the gym, instead of an intensive more meaningful stint where you’re working close to your maximum heart rate.
The latter is where you want to be. This will help you increase your lactate threshold point and you will notice the overall impact on your fitness level.
EATING THE WRONG THINGS
Most of us feel hungry after exercise but make sure you top up your body with the right fuel.
Protein is the best post-workout source as it helps to rebuild muscle tissue and aid recovery.
Avoid heavy carbohydrates or fatty snacks after training, eating too much really defeats the object of working out in the first place!
USING THE WRONG KIT
Our final point isn’t quite as important as the four above, but nevertheless, make sure you are well kitted out and prepared for the activity you’re undertaking.
For example, if you’re training for a marathon – buy the right footwear to fit your foot type. Otherwise, you risk injury.
From professional athletes to regular gym-goers, if you feel good with what you’re wearing it will boost your confidence.
Research has also shown that it can have a positive impact on performance.
By eating the right snacks, you can eat your way to a flatter stomach.
There’s a myth that to get a washboard stomach you have to do hundreds of sit-ups per day and skip snacks/meals – but simply put, it’s all about consuming the right types of food.
Try these top five snack choices for starters:
Yes, indeed – you did read this right.
Dark chocolate is packed with various minerals such as potassium, zinc and selenium – all of which can boost your overall health.
The consumption of cocoa can also reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the body and because dark chocolate contains less calories, it has more weight loss benefits than normal dairy milk varieties.
Recent studies also found that dark chocolate can help blood flow and prevent white blood cells sticking to the walls of blood vessels.
Chocolate, obviously, is high in fat – but if eaten in moderation, the darker variety certainly has its advantages.
Studies have proven that eggs are a great protein-rich food to have for breakfast and will make you feel fuller throughout the day. As a result, you’ll resist the urge to eat and eat.
The fact they are extremely fulfilling, especially when you start your day with eggs, means you’ll likely to need less calories to keep your energy levels high.
Although high in regular fat, Avocados contain monosaturated fatty acids – which reduce so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Avocados are also rich in important minerals such as vitamin E, iron and potassium.
In addition, the fruit contains fibre, including both soluble and insoluble types, enabling the slower breakdown of carbohydrates into your bloodstream – spreading out energy stores over the course of your day.
The sub-heading is slightly mis-leading as other fruits apply here, too – such as grapes and strawberries.
They all contain anthocyanins, which is simply a pigment that gives fruits like berries different colours. Importantly, though, the pigments (plant chemicals) attack belly fat in your body and will help you get that flat stomach you’re after.
It’s a cliche but one apple a day can help keep the doctor away.
Eating an apple is a perfect snack and contains lots of fibre and vitamins, which will stem the flow of hunger in your body.
There’s practicing what you preach and then there’s what Shelton D’Costa does. When the physical education teacher isn’t spreading his knowledge to children at Cambridge International School, he’s heaving a discus or shot put as far as he can.
After spending his day teaching and coaching kids in various sports, D’Costa lives the life of an athlete. He trains hard, travels around the globe and competes against hundreds in the Masters Athletics circuit – international competitions for veteran athletes aged 35 and above – all in the name of love for athletics.
The Kerala-born 45-year-old represents his home country of India and has already bagged nine medals, including eight gold, in the two years since joining the circuit.
Despite his impressive success, D’Costa returns to his day job after every meet, back to a normal life of juggling work and family with his passion.
“To be honest, this isn’t on the glamorous side of athletics,” D’Costa told Sport360.
D’Costa’s international journey began two years ago, but his passion for athletics goes back to his younger days. In college, he trained with a national coach and went on to break records at the university level before representing his state in national competitions. He didn’t get on the podium at national competitions, but reaching that level in a country with over a billion people was an achievement in itself.
Still, D’Costa’s athletics career came to a natural end and initially, he moved on to the hotel industry, only to realise three years later that he wanted to help others go further in the sport than he ever could.
“My parents didn’t want me to be a teacher because my mother was already a teacher. I worked in the hotel industry, but I always knew this is what I wanted to do,” he said.
“I prefer coaching to teaching. Teaching for me, I’m really not able to relate with teaching cricket or football or basketball. I prefer giving myself to what I know. All I know is athletics and athletics is what I breathe.”
What D’Costa didn’t know was that his career would have a second life – and that too a successful one.
It began with D’Costa qualifying for the Indian team by ranking third in the country’s selection, despite not having much time at all to prepare and train.
“I had gone with only a two-week notice, so I knew I could do better with further practice,” he said. “I just worked out after that for all these international competitions.”
D’Costa’s training wasn’t without challenges, however.
Dubai may have facilities aplenty, but finding one which suited his discipline was the biggest hurdle to his improvement.
“The only challenge I’m facing is, as a thrower, it’s very difficult for me to execute my throws on the grounds here in Dubai, because most of the grounds are turf,” he said. “They wouldn’t allow discus or shot put to land on the turf because it will ruin it. To find a place like that was a big challenge.“Luckily my principle hooked me up with a ground at GEMS Modern Academy.
It wasn’t easy, but D’Costa’s training paid off as in his first international competition at the 32nd Ritzbury Mercantile Athletics Championships in Sri Lanka, he broke two meet records with a distance of 38.20 metres in discus and 11.84m in shot put.
With funding from GEMS to compete across the globe, he followed that up with a strong performance in the Australian Masters Athletics meet in October, 2015, winning gold in discus, shot put and throws pentathlon, along with bronze in outdoor pentathlon.
More gold came in the 19th Asia Masters Athletics Championships in Singapore, with D’Costa earning the top spot on the podium in discus in May of last year.
Last month, D’Costa added his seventh and eighth gold when he reigned supreme in discus and shot put in New Zealand.
Unfortunately for D’Costa, he also left Whanganui last month with a hairline fracture, suffered on his final throw, putting him in crutches for the immediate future.
The injury puts him in doubt for the World Masters Games, taking place in Auckland in late April, but D’Costa still has his sights set on being a world champion in discus.
In his mind, three or four metres separate him from the top, considering his personal results as compared to previous winners.
To fully commit himself, D’Costa is considering taking some time off from teaching to raise his level of training. Regardless of what he achieves going forward though, D’Costa has already proven those who teach, can also do.