You don’t have to be a professional to train like one. Take a page from an athlete’s playbook for better performance, stronger motivation and fewer injuries. When you act like an athlete, you win.

Train like an athlete for better performance
Athletes understand that when it comes to training and competition you have to go hard or go home. To go hard you must think big picture, whole body fitness. No haphazard training here. Instead, athletes give attention to fitness, nutrition and recovery for best results. You should, too. Fuel your performance with foods that nourish and energize your body. Think lean meats, complex carbs, fiber and healthy fats. Plan recovery days to support muscle growth and reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Avoid too much alcohol and too many late nights. When you train like an athlete you treat your body with more care because you know you must count on it to compete successfully.

Personal trainerAthletes are motivated
Choosing to be an athlete requires focus and dedication. They must train hard, even when they don’t want to. Athletes keep showing up to the mat or track or court because not showing up isn’t an option. Maybe you won’t perform in front of a crowd or win any medals, but when you train with an athlete’s determination, you’re still a winner.

Athletes protect themselves from injuries
When you must count on your body for superior performance, you do everything you can to stay in the game. Athletes protect themselves from injury by doing basic things like stretching, foam rolling, taking recovery days and developing full body strength. Professional runners don’t just run; they also work to strengthen their core for better performance. Football players practice yoga for better balance and agility. Swimmers lift weights to improve their stroke. You get the idea…athletes understand that all the muscles of the body work together. Weak muscles lead to overcompensation and injury. They also reduce performance because you don’t have the power you need to be your best.

Exercise is for everyone. Countless studies have shown that even regular moderate physical activity improves quality of life. There are fewer risks for chronic illness, such as diabetes. And mood improves, too. Exercise can ease depression, anxiety, insomnia and stress. To get the benefits you have to commit to fitness just like an athlete. It doesn’t matter if you’ll never compete in the Olympics – better overall health is a pretty good prize.