When you’re a sports fan, it doesn’t matter if you prefer the NBA, figure skating or the Olympics—you’re sure to admire the performances of athletes who work inconceivably hard to achieve greatness. It’s practically impossible to watch without feeling compelled to hit the gym and try some new training method, hoping to achieve your own gold-medal performance. So what’s the latest buzz in the training room?
Like many athletes, I was recently looking for a leg up on the competition. I was preparing for a fall marathon and already working hard on my running and speed work, but I wondered if by tweaking my diet, I could gain an edge. As a registered dietitian and sports nutrition coach, I was aware of several successful elite athletes who practiced vegetarianism.
Some of the questions most frequently asked of sports dietitians deal with food and fluid consumption before, during and after exercise. Indeed, athletes are bombarded with nutrition misinformation, resulting in confusion about what they should eat or drink during training or, more crucially, during competition. This article provides science-based guidelines on food and beverage choices that are easy to understand and adopt and that allow athletes to maximize their potential.
client: Dana | personal trainer: Michael Piercy, owner, The Lab | location: West Caldwell, New Jersey
Injury. When Michael Piercy, owner of The Lab (Performance & Sports Science), first met Dana in the summer of 2008, she presented with a rare condition described by doctors as “functional movement disorder.” According to The Lancet Neurology (2012; 11 , 250–60), functional movement disorders are included in a wide spectrum of neurological disorders and are difficult to both diagnose and treat.
Speak with enough personal trainers at the start of their careers and you’ll quickly notice a common aspiration: They want to train professional athletes. Of course it’s fine to dream big, but it’s important to remember that professional athletes are extremely rare individuals. Consequently, pro athletes are neither as numerous nor as varied in age, gender or ability as everyday adult athletes.
Many young athletes dream of earning a scholarship to play their sport of choice at a reputable college or university. To realize that dream, they will often train extensively. Recent research found that hard training while young may lead to significant physical problems later in life.
“People say, 'I'm going to sleep now,' as if it were nothing,” said comedian George Carlin. “But it's really a bizarre activity. For the next several hours, while the sun is gone, I'm going to become unconscious, temporarily losing command over everything I know and understand. When the sun returns, I will resume my life.”
Athletes typically train during the offseason to improve their performance and reduce their injury potential during the regular season. However, the results of a study from Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Technology (2012; doi:10.1186/1758-2555-4-26) suggest that preseason fitness levels may be unrelated to the potential for injury during the regular season.