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Out-of-the-Gym Habits that Affect In-the-Gym Performance: A Coach’s Perspective

In my role as both a coach and a climber, I've observed that the habits we cultivate beyond the gym significantly influence the way I/my athletes perform during training. Presented below is a compilation of crucial habits, ranked in terms of priority, for those aiming to enhance both performance and well-being.


coach Charlie Schreiber bouldering in Rocklands, South Africa

Sleep 


Recognizing the paramount importance of sleep cannot be overstated. Both the quality and quantity of sleep are vital for any athlete aiming to enhance climbing performance. Inadequate sleep quality or duration can compound over time, leading to periods of reduced performance and an increased risk of injury. The following are my top recommendations to improve sleep and promote recovery:


Consistency:

  • Establish a consistent bedtime and wake-up time to regulate your body's internal clock. This helps those who struggle with falling asleep.

Conditions:

  • Sleep in a pitch-black room, using blackout curtains.

  • Maintain a cool sleeping environment (around 67 degrees).

  • Consider using a noise canceller, white noise app, or a fan near your bed.

  • Invest in high-quality bedding for a comfortable sleep experience.

Approach:

  • Avoid heavy meals and excessive fluids before bedtime to prevent disruptions.

  • Steer clear of alcohol and caffeine, as they can significantly disturb sleep.

  • Minimize exposure to blue lights and screens at least an hour before bedtime.

  • Engage in relaxing activities such as meditation, breathing exercises, or reading to wind down.


Set-Backs Impacted by Drinking, Smoking, Overindulging


Recognize that setbacks, defined as factors hindering your next session's performance, are often influenced by lifestyle choices. Drinking alcohol excessively, smoking, using cigarettes/vapes/marijuana, or overindulging in food, particularly junk food, can impede recovery and damage the body. Consistent good days of incremental gains are the foundation of effective training. These activities have the potential to set you back, making it crucial to prioritize consistent positive choices.


Planning Your Climbing Training Sessions


The adage "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail" holds true. Devote time at the start of each month and week to plan your training sessions. Organize sessions with those who motivate you and prioritize training over less crucial social events. Plan your meals weekly to avoid resorting to fast food due to poor planning. Maintain a list of daily necessities in your backpack, including healthy snacks, water bottles, massage tools, and supplements.


Nutrition and Water Intake

Rather than delving into an extensive discussion of nutritional principles, consider the following strategies:

  • Add electrolytes to your water before sessions to enhance muscle performance and recovery.

  • Strive to stay alkaline to promote health and faster recovery by reducing inflammation.

  • Utilize protein shakes post-workout for faster muscle protein absorption and include post-workout carbs to replenish glycogen.

Aim for high-nutrition foods to optimize your body's performance.


Nature Exposure and Stress Release 


Spending time in nature is not only instinctively appealing but also a proven stress reducer. Just a few minutes outside each day, in addition to providing Vitamin D, can lower cortisol levels in the body. Athletes undergoing intense training often have elevated cortisol levels, impacting cognitive functions and delaying recovery. Incorporate activities that bring joy, laughter, and peace into your life to recharge both your body and mind amidst the stresses of training and daily life.


For more information:


***This article mentions the personal decision to follow an alkaline diet.

If you, as an athlete, want to follow a specific diet plan, we recommend you meet with a Registered Dietitian and talk to your doctor. We support a well-balanced healthy relationship with food.


If you are interested in learning what the research says about alkaline diets here are some sources:

 

You can find this original blog and others like it at https://www.hiddencrux.com/. Posted with permission.


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