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Best Training Tips of the Year

Scott Wachter

The coaches at Core Performance have provided hundreds of innovative tips for all types of fitness and sports performance goals. Use their best advice to take your training to the next level this year.

1. Prepare Your Body to Perform

Ever feel like you’ve hit a wall just five minutes into your workout? “Think of it as an oxygen debt,” says Alwyn Cosgrove, author of The New Rules of Lifting. “Your body isn’t able to transport oxygen to your muscles quickly enough so it builds up lactic acid and you start to really feel it.” The solution: Always perform a dynamic warm-up, before you run, bike, lift weights, or play sports. “By ramping up the intensity slowly, your body uses oxygen efficiently so you’ll avoid sputtering out early,” says Cosgrove. Try this 7-minute routine before your next training session.

2. Train Fast to Move Faster  

“Quickness isn’t just about how big and strong your muscles are, but how efficiently your brain can communicate with your body,” says Anthony Slater, head performance specialist at Core Performance Center. At the end of your warm-up (a.k.a. Movement Prep), tack on a couple “rapid response” drills. Watch videos of three super fast moves to add to your routine.

3. Update Your iPod

Here’s a simple way to improve your running performance: Add up-beat songs to your iPod. British researchers found that runners who listened to songs with 120 or more beats per minute (BPM) boosted their running capacity by up to 15 percent. Download our collection of 120+ BPM tunes.

4. Train Your Abs a New Way

Ditch the strict diet of sit-ups, and do more squats. Research has shown that the overhead squat engages your entire pillar—everything from your hips to your shoulders—and it’s far more effective at activating your abs if you do it right. To learn what makes this exercise so effective and how to do it, read "The Best Core Exercise You’re Not Doing."

5. Get a Grip

If you can do a pull-up (watch this video for proper technique), try modifying it to give your hands, wrists, and forearms a greater challenge. Drape two towels over a pull-up bar, so that both ends are hanging down. Then perform pull-ups by gripping the towel instead of the bar. If it’s too hard, hang from the pull-up bar for as long as you can. If you can do it for one minute, try wearing a weight vest or using only one hand to make it even more difficult, says performance specialist Nick Anthony.

6. Harness Your Body Weight

No access to a gym doesn’t mean you can’t get in a great workout. By learning how to utilize your own body weight better, you can get an effective and challenging training session anywhere. Check out the "No-Weight Workout" for ideas.

7. Hit the Showers

You can actually speed up your body’s recovery process by alternating between hot and cold temperatures in your post-workout shower. Sue Falsone, director of physical therapy at Athletes’ Performance, says it works because “the blood vessels dilate and constrict, so there's a pumping action. This increases blood flow, which is important for muscle recovery.” Build up to longer durations under cold water if you work out in the morning. It’ll leave you feeling energized, focused, and ready for the day.

8. Hoist Iron to Run Faster

Dedicate yourself to lifting weights if you plan on pounding the pavement. “Since you run with your whole body and not just your legs, you need to strengthen it all in the weight room,” says Paul Robbins, a metabolic specialist for Athletes’ Performance. This is especially important as you undertake a new goal like completing a half-marathon. Your weight workout can help reduce the risk for running injuries and increase strength and power that you need to finish faster. Click here for key pointers.

9. Train on One Leg

Work on balancing your strength by training your legs with unilateral movements, or exercises that work your legs individually, such as split squats, lateral lunges, single-leg squats, and single-leg Romanian deadlifts. Performance specialist Craig Friedman says that these movements not only strengthen each leg individually, but also improve the overall strength of your legs together to give you better stability, balance and power.

10. Prepare for Your Next Workout

Pay attention to sleep, massage and nutrition. While this may not seem like a training tip, rest and regeneration will help your body bounce back stronger the next day and stay mentally and physically fresh. Falsone suggests mini sessions of daily regeneration. Even five minutes of foam rolling and five minutes of stretching can go a long way in reducing injury risk and maximizing performance. Read her guide to squeeze regeneration into your busy schedule.

Tags: Total Body, Training, Sports Performance, Resistance Training