1. Light: Bright light will give our body more energy. Light is a very powerful message to the brain. Not all light is created equal. Sunlight seems to be the best but isn’t always available to us. There is lots of merit to timing your workouts with your competition time. That might not always be possible. The benefits of morning workout seem to have the most scientifically positive effects on us for the remainder of the day.
2. Music: The double edge sward. Pleasing sounds can distract us from the pain of a workout. Music can also help energize us while we workout by releasing feel good chemicals in the brain. The chemicals elevate our mood and dull pain, which is a nice combo. It can also make us susceptible to external noise during competition. If you need to be able to tune out noise during competition use ugly music during your workout as a training method for focusing the brain and blocking out external stimulus.
3. Mental approach: Instead of focusing on the pain, muscle fatigue and thinking, “this hurts! I wanna quit!” try altering your mindset and view the workout as a sign that your body is growing stronger and changing for the better. Reminding yourself of the results of a workout can be very helpful when struggling through a punishing workout.
4. Hydrate: Coming into a workout hydrated is important. Good hydration optimizes our overall blood volume. Oxygen is carried through the body in our circulatory system and keeping that system full helps our performance.
5. Sleep & recovery: These two things sound similar but are different and apply themselves differently to athletes. Younger athletes (teenagers) need much more sleep than the average adult. The average teen needs between 9-10 hours of sleep a night. Most teens suffer from a chronic lack of sleep, which leads to decreased mental performance across the board. Conversely most grown ups need about 7-9 hours of sleep a night to be at their best. I know there is no scientific consensus as to why we need sleep; I just know that it’s important to all kinds of increased performance. Recovery: The older an athlete becomes the more time is necessary to let your body recover from intense exercise. A 40 year old that works out like an 18 year old increases his chance of injury dramatically.
6. Electronic Devices: Screen time is associated with physical and operative changes in brain regions involving emotional processing, executive attention, decision-making, and cognitive control. These kids tend to be more impulsive, temperamental, and can’t pay attention to the same level as their peers with less screen time. In brain scans doctors can see the actual undeveloped or changed parts of the brain.
7. Dynamic Warm Up: Warm-ups are meant to activate your muscles and prepare them for competition. But there a are many more reasons to do a dynamic, not static, warm up before exercise and competitions: it prepares your cardiovascular, neuromuscular and muscular systems in an integrated way and starts the release of all the beneficial chemicals exercise and competition need and provide into the blood stream. This has been shown to enhance performance and may also reduce the risk of injury.
8. Don’t forget a cool down. If you stop exercising abruptly, blood can pool in your extremities, which can lead to lightheadedness and fainting. While I can find no scientific evidence this appears to effect adults more than kids. There is evidence that cooling down, keeping your heart rate from dropping down to resting rate after a workout helps with recovery. It helps remove all the damage from the body caused by the workout.
For older boys that wrestle another benefit of exercise is loss of appetite. This can help get your weight under control and cut out food cravings.