Professional athletes treat their bodies really, really well. That doesn’t just mean getting regular massages to loosen tight muscles (but go for it!)-its about knowing your body, understanding what your sport does to it, and making sure to strengthen and stretch the right muscles to keep yourself in balance. Consult a physiotherapist or coach about the stretches that are important for you to do regularly, or even sign up for a private yoga session to get a tailored routine.
As for cross-training, every sport has complementary activities. For example, high-impact athletes can benefit from a regular spinning session to give their joints a break, whereas swimmers should make sure to get in some weight-bearing routines to strengthen bones.
6. Eat right
The pros pay a lot of attention to their food intake to make sure they’re consuming optimal fuel before a workout and the best foods to help them recover after they’re done. You can do the same by making sure you’re eating nutrition-packed meals all day long and targeting your pre- and post-workout snacks to your body’s needs.
Before a workout, aim for some easily digested carbohydrates, such as half a banana or a carb-heavy energy bar, suggests Brazier, who transformed his personal research on performance-oriented nutrition into Vega, a line of all-vegan nutritional supplements. When you’re done, make sure to eat something light but protein-rich within 45 minutes to speed recovery. “A fruit smoothie with some protein added is good,” he says.
7. Push harder
Remember when you watched triathlete Simon Whitfield compete in the 2008 Olympics? If there’s one thing to take from that performance, it’s how hard he was pushing himself. When’s the last time you gave that much of yourself to your sport? Don’t do it all the time-you’ll be asking for injury-but once in a while, when the moment is right and you’re perfectly warmed up, see how hard you can go.