Train like a Champion

It makes zero sense to build a house on an unstable foundation.

The same can be said for athletes. There is no factor more responsible for success than health. In order to attain that health, rest and recovery on top of a solid pre-event or preseason training program can separate an elite athlete from their competition.

Ponder this: Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez missed nearly half of his team’s games last year. Project his numbers over 162 games and you’re looking at nearly 40 home runs and 20 stolen bases.

His wRC+ in an injury-plagued season landed at 191, a smidge below Miggy Cabrera’s 192. If he was the picture of health all year, could he have been better? Would he have been the NL’s MVP? Would the Dodgers have advanced to the World Series and become the champions of the land?

Granted, his injury in the postseason may not have been avoidable — he was hit in the ribs by a pitch — but the value of his health to his countable stats and to the Dodgers is immeasurable as we peer back in time.

Regardless of how strong and fast pro athletes get while training for their respective sports, they can’t help the team from a training room table when injury strikes.

As lightning quick as Reggie Bush is, he was useless to the Detroit Lions in weeks three and 14 when the injury report was released and he was listed as out.

So it stands to reason that the first goal of an athlete in training is staying healthy and on the field.

TR Goodman, founder Pro Camp Sports runs his elite fitness company with dedication to health first, strength second. His clients include A-list celebrities and professional athletes from every major sport.

“Following the advice of conventional training methods, training like a bodybuilder and doing high- intensity training, will only make your body worse!” TR says.

“Isn’t the purpose of working out to allow yourself to be active and prevent yourself from being injured?”

In order for athletes to stay healthy throughout their prospective seasons, they must first recover from the previous one.

Former athletic trainer for the Boston Red Sox Mike Reinold agrees.

“In order to get all that you can out of your off season training, you need to regen your body first,” he told me. “This begins with taking time away from your sport, but there are also other things you can do to reset and regenerate your body.  You body needs to heal and sleep and nutrition are two great things to focus on at the start of the offseason.”  

Mike recommends the following essentials:

  • Get on a consistent sleep schedule
  • Sleep at least 8 hours a night
  • Eat a clean diet while avoiding fast food and processed foods
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

This is all in an effort to get back to a healthy base to begin the grueling training process of an off-season.

I didn’t follow this advice well during my career. In fact, I started many off-season training programs, including swings and throws, only a few weeks after the previous season ended. The result? I felt over-trained in April when the season began, suffering injuries and subsequently losing playing time on the DL, particularly early in my career. If I could go back and do it all over again, I’d have followed Mike’s advice and allowed my body to heal before hitting the intense training regime.

So, in order to be healthy and productive during competition, athletes must first recover. All athletes train hard leading up to competition. The way a performer can set themself apart is by setting a strong base for training through rest and recovery before beginning that grueling training for sport.

I’ll be writing about the building the structure on said base in my next post. Stay tuned!