Welcome to 2012, STACKletes. We hope you enjoyed your time off over the holidays with friends and family. But since we're not inclined to believe the end of the world is nigh, there's no reason you shouldn't be back in the gym working hard to improve your athletic performance. Here are a few ways to help you get back into the weight room grind.
1. Make a Schedule
We've all had days when we say, "I'll work out some time after school," but set no firm time frame to hit the gym. As the day goes on, we find excuses to delay the workout. First, we're hungry and have to eat something. Then we need to let our food settle. While we're waiting, maybe we play a video game, until we remember the homework that's due tomorrow. Before you know it, it's time to hit the hay.
Procrastination will not help you get to the next level. Creating a schedule will. And don't simply schedule your workout; schedule your entire day, even planning out meals so you're fueled up and ready when it's time to get moving. Take your entire day into consideration: classes, studying, extra-curricular activities and family time. After a couple weeks, your body will become acclimated to the schedule, and you'll be back in the grind before you know it.
2. Set Goals
Your workouts won't go anywhere if you meander around the gym, setting loads with no rhyme or reason. To see noticeable gains in your performance and have them translate onto the court or field, you need to set both short-term and long-term goals. An example of a short-term goal: "I will complete three full-body workouts per week this month." Long-term goal: "I will shave a second off my 40-Yard Dash time by the end of June."
Your short-term goals should lead directly to the achievement of your long-term goals. In the 40-Yard Dash example, if your short-term goal is to perform more speed drills or to up your workout difficulty level each week, you should have no trouble hitting your long-term target.
Goals give you focus. You need to create your goals and write them down. Tell your teammates and coaches about them so they can hold you to 'em. (Learn even more about setting goals.)
3. Change It Up
We've all seen the guy who does the same beach body workout every time: Bench, Squat, Curl, repeat. Athletes know they are not in a swimsuit competition. Your body learns and remembers. If you do the same workout over and over, your body will recall the muscles it needs to recruit to execute the movements, and you will be buying yourself a one-way ticket to a plateau. (Read up on how to avoid plateaus.) You need to change up your workout at least every three to six weeks, using a mix of explosive and stability exercises along with traditional strength training. You need to keep your body guessing—corny, but true.
The New Year is what you make of it, and 2012 is yours for the taking, STACKletes. Make a schedule, set goals and add variety to your workouts. This could be your breakout year.
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