Have you fallen in love with your sport and are ready to take things to the next level? Maybe you want to see how far you can push it, or have aspirations of actually turning pro. No matter what your goals are, the path to excellence is the same. To become the best, you will have to train like the best. That means hundreds of hours spent in the gym, making sacrifices, using quality training equipment, dedication and plenty of hard work. Do you have what it takes? We are going to find out; let’s talk about how to train like a pro.
Find the Right Gym
If you want to take things seriously and reach the next level, you will have to find the right environment. Your environment can make or break your training, your instruction and your motivation. A serious environment, one where people are more focused on training than socializing, is conducive to progress. In a serious gym, you will also find people that are better than you; this is good. You want to be around people that can show you proper technique and that will share tips on how to help you perform at your very best. When you put a small fish in a big pond, that fish will adapt and grow into the pond. Be the small fish in the big pond (around presumably “bigger” fish).
It’s best to learn from your mistakes and go back to the drawing board plenty of times. Train with partners that can beat you but are willing to explain HOW they beat you. That way you can focus on improving your weaknesses which will improve the overall package. The right environment also serves to motivate you. There are days where you will not feel like training hard. But make no mistake — once you surround yourself with the right training environment, it can be the small spark that ignites your motivation to push through. When you are the strongest/most skilled/best in the gym, you have no motivation to improve.
We all know that there will be nights when you come home from training feeling defeated, both physically and mentally. That sting will be what drives you to improve; you don’t want to feel that defeat again, so you are willing to put on your boxing gloves and push further to avoid that pain.
In professional sports, it seems like one guy gets the spotlight. The fact of the matter is that one guy has a whole team of people propping him up. Finding a good coach can make or break your training. A poor coach can teach you bad habits, some of which might have you leaving the ring feeling disappointed in your performance. Having the right coach can prevent you from learning bad habits and can improve your game tremendously. Coaches build rapport with their trainees and learn their limits — and how far those limits can be pushed. Hard work is an absolute necessity. While some people can rely on natural talent, that only gets you so far. The majority of professional athletes got there through hard work and grinding it out.
Take Mixed Martial Arts, for example, the sport teaches you that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Many times we’ve seen people that are in great overall shape go up against “fluffy” opponents and get beat. Just ask Roy “Big Country” Nelson and the 14 people that he has knocked out in his MMA career — all done with a beer belly. With proper coaching and plenty of hard work, even the seemingly “average” athlete can reach professional status.
Using the right equipment during your workouts can help you stave off injuries. When you’re injured, you cannot train, and your progress stalls. If you’re involved in contact sports, always make sure to wear an athletic cup — this one is a no-brainer. Also, pay special attention to the type of gloves you wear while doing your striking training. Your boxing gloves or MMA gloves should offer plenty of wrist support and thick padding on all of the knuckles. The right equipment will keep you off of the injured list, so don’t skimp on your equipment.
People that are willing to sacrifice and push further will reap rewards that others can only dream of. If you want to become a professional athlete, but you’re spending your time everywhere but the gym, you need to rethink your priorities. Excellence does not come easy; if it did, then everyone would hold the title of world champion — and that title would become meaningless. When you are willing to sacrifice, you can reach territories that remain uncharted to others. If your heart's in it, be prepared to sacrifice for it.
To facilitate long, intense training sessions, you are going to have to prioritize rest above other activities. Don’t expect to burn the candle at both ends for very long before reaching a state of overtraining or sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is clinically proven to increase fatigue and decrease an athlete’s training capabilities. Sleep deprivation also negatively affects an athlete by causing insulin resistance and decreasing glucose tolerance, two factors which can lead to fatigue.
The path to success is not a linear one; it’s filled with pitfalls, obstacles, defeat, injuries — you name it. If you choose this path, it may not always be filled with joy. There will be disappointments, but you must push forward. In the end, the reward will be worth the sacrifice.