Training Advice for a Stronger 2024
The new year and another 52 weeks of training are upon us. As an athlete, each year of training is important. Athletes only have so many years to train and compete in their sport, so each training year must be as productive as possible. Ideally, each training year should result in an elevated level of performance both in the gym and on the playing field.
Nowadays, with social media, many athletes are constantly searching, scrolling, and looking for the newest method, idea, or shortcut to help them reach their performance goals. However, the truth is that many of these athletes would benefit from focusing on mastering the basics, becoming rigid in their discipline, and dedicating themselves to training.
At Westside, we have always been forward-thinking about strength training and sports performance. Over the years, Lou and Westside Barbell have been responsible for countless innovations and new approaches to training. However, our innovation came from need, not because we were looking to avoid the work that must be done.
As 2024 begins, we recommend all athletes review their mindset, execution, and discipline. Before going and changing up your entire approach to training this year, be sure you are doing all you can do in and out of the gym to ensure training is successful.
Below, we will discuss ways to improve your training without significantly adjusting your training plan.
One of the most critical aspects of recovery is getting enough sleep each night. Unfortunately, some athletes do not adhere to a proper sleep schedule, and this pattern of behavior quickly begins to limit training productivity and overall training success. No matter how genetically gifted or capable an athlete may be, no athlete can defeat the effects caused by a poor sleep schedule.
While we understand responsibilities such as work, school, or family can limit the amount of sleep an athlete can get, adhering to a healthy sleep schedule is one of the quickest ways to improve your training and overall quality of life. If you are an athlete constantly missing sleep time goals, adjusting your schedule to allow for more sleep will help take your training to the next level.
If you cannot achieve, at minimum, a solid 6-8 hours each night, we recommend trying to take at least one nap per day. While naps are a lower quality sleep than overnight REM sleep, the additional rest is better than running on a limited sleep schedule. If you struggle with going to sleep or staying asleep, be sure to review the supplements you are taking and consider lowering your stimulant intake.
Nutrition and Hydration
After sleep, nutrition and hydration are essential to successful strength and conditioning training. Without proper nutrition and hydration, it doesn't matter how much sleep an athlete gets; their gas tank and ability to improve will be severely affected. Evaluating your approach to nutrition and hydration should be one of your first moves if you feel your training has been suboptimal.
Each day, athletes must strive to consume enough calories and drink enough water to ensure training is productive and growth is possible. An athlete's abilities will be limited without adequate hydration and caloric intake, and training quality will ultimately suffer. Just a day or two of missing your calorie or hydration goals can begin to affect energy levels and reduce the effectiveness of your training.
While every athlete has their own personal calorie and hydration needs, all athletes must remain disciplined and meet them daily. Additionally, it is important to note that the food and water you consume on the training day will have little immediate effect on your workout. What matters most is how disciplined you are with your calorie and hydration needs in the few days leading up to each training day.
This is why discipline is essential; an athlete must constantly keep their gas tank on full or risk the chance of lessened training effectiveness and potentially ending up with a strain or injury. Just like a vehicle running out of fuel, when the tank is empty, you're sitting on the side of the road (or on the sideline watching others train and compete).
Fortunately, many resources and experts are available to help figure out your nutritional and hydration needs in person and online. If you struggle with developing a diet that serves your training needs, consider hiring a professional to develop a plan. This will save you time and ensure that you are following a diet plan optimized for you and your training plan.
Maintaining an adequately spaced training schedule is another important aspect of strength and conditioning training. Too often, athletes make on-the-fly adjustments to the dates and times of their training sessions, leading to issues with recovery and energy levels that limit training productivity and effectiveness. No matter how gifted of an athlete you are, you can't outwork a poorly structured or scheduled training plan.
At Westside, our best athletes always stick to their training plan. This means not only are we sticking to the actual workouts, sets, and reps we have planned, but we are also training on the same days each week with strictly scheduled recovery timelines. If you want to become as capable as possible, discipline and commitment are required. This means showing up ready and recovered each time a training session is scheduled.
While life may call for the occasional adjustment to be made to the training schedule, it is vital to avoid making a habit of this behavior. It can be a slippery slope, and the slack you give yourself one day can result in slacking or adjusting the training schedule to fit your needs becoming a regular occurrence.
Becoming a dominant athlete requires total dedication. The best athletes in the world make their life fit their training schedules, while less-than-stellar athletes make their training schedules work around their lives. Do you want to become the best athlete you can be, or do you want to have a good time and chill out every day?
Discipline isn't always comfortable or easy, but a life of discipline and dedication is always more satisfying than a life of self-indulgence and fun times you forget about in a month. If this sounds like too rigid of a lifestyle, consider taking up shuffleboard.
Don't Waste Time
While it's true we have our entire lives to train, it is also true that most athletes have a limited window of opportunity to improve their strength, speed, body composition, and sports performance. Each sport has peak ages, and at that point, an athlete either has or hasn't done what they need to do to reach their sporting goals. Time waits for no one, so making each training day count is important.
The feeling of accomplishment provided by a life of dedication to training and strict discipline is much more rewarding than so-called "good times" with people who likely could care less about your sport or athletic abilities. Don't expect an average person to understand what you are doing or to help you accomplish your goals.
You must dedicate yourself to the process and eliminate the habits and behaviors that hold you back and limit your success.
In 2024, be honest and hold yourself to a higher standard. Even if last year was very productive, imagine how productive this year can be if you further increase your discipline and dedication. As athletes, we can never reach a point where we think we have it all figured out or are as good as we need to be. Your competition is training to become better than you, so becoming complacent will only lead to your defeat.
Live a disciplined life, dedicate yourself to your training, and check every necessary box that leads to improved performance daily. If you can manage to do these things, there is no doubt that 2024 will be your most productive year of training yet.
Simmons, L. (2007). Westside Barbell Book of Methods. Westside Barbell.
Verkhoshansky, Y., & Siff, M. C. (2009). Supertraining. Verkhoshansky.
Zatsiorsky, V. M., & Kraemer, W. J. (2006). Science and Practice of Strength Training. Human Kinetics