Sports Reality
PERFORMANCE TRAINING AT ITS BEST Free Sports Performance Consultation

by Jeff Appel

Throughout the years of training athletes it is safe to say that the vast majority have  seen excellent results. The norm is your typical bigger, stronger and faster. They end up leaner, fitter and more resilient. So, what’s up with that 10% or so that doesn’t achieve the results they are looking for?


It is easy to point the finger at the program. It deflects ownership and responsibility and is an easy way to justify why someone is not getting better. However, if it seems to be working for nearly everyone else, then is it really the program? Individual adjustments may need to happen, as all athletes are different. Some may respond better to more volume, some higher intensity, etc.…It takes time to find what works best for each individual, but the program is often the last place that should take blame, especially if the majority is achieving desired results.


First off, a program should not be blamed if it is not followed. The program is not to blame if reps, sets, exercises and days are often skipped. This one is usually easy for a coach to point out, and it should be the first place to look when trying to figure out why optimal results were not achieved.


Effort is the second place to look for poor results. Were the training sessions attacked with tenacity, or was the athlete going through the motions and doing the bare minimum? This is sometimes hard to judge and often takes a deep-down honest look, but suboptimal intensity will result in suboptimal results.  Come into Sports Reality with the right attitude; not one of a slacker or one who is here just to get through the workout. Put forth great effort; you will get out of it what you put into it!


This is the first question I ask when an athlete isn’t progressing as they should, but they are consistent and attack every workout. How many hours of sleep do you average? If the answer is not between 7 and 9 hours per night, it needs to be fixed. This is when your body repairs and recovers. . Thus, regression can be the result. Constantly tearing the body down without recovering will lead you down the wrong path. Also, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day will help you get into a good circadian rhythm, which will result in more energy and alertness when you need it.


While sleep is your repair and recovery, nutrition is your fuel. Are you fueling properly each day? Breakfast, lunch and dinner, with healthy snack in between? Are you filling up with nutrient dense foods like dark green vegetables, potatoes and fresh meat? Or are you filling up with Coke, Oreos and cereal? If you are not eating enough, you will not have enough gas in the tank to train hard day in and day out. Eating properly will ensure your body has the fuel to train hard, recover properly, and ward off illness. A simple way to think about food is – if it used to grow in the ground, grow on a tree, walk, swim or fly – eat it! If it came from a factory – stay away!  Even if you are exercising to your MAX, consuming junk food will keep you from progressing.  If you can't stop eating junk food, don't waste your money or our time.


Stress, to me, is the hardest of all of these. We all have stress in our lives, and much of it is out of our control. What is within our control is how we react to it. When seriously training for something, try to limit the stress in your life. That is much easier said than done. However, find ways to de-stress. What relaxes you? There are plenty of sources online for stress relief. Try some, see what works for you. Examples of proven stress relief techniques are – more sleep, controlled breathing, sauna or steam room, massage therapy, meditation, yoga, pilates, foam rolling, acupuncture, earthing, laughing, praying and even chewing gum. Not all of these may work for you, but a few will probably help. Do what you can to minimize stress. Also, talk with your coach. In times of high stress, you may need to back off on volume or intensity. Training is stress! Too much stress can lead to a myriad of issues.


While this has very little to do with your actual results, this does however have a lot to do with your satisfaction from training. Be realistic. Talk with your coach about realistic goals for you. If you come in running a 5.60 forty, do not expect to ever be a 4.4 guy. If you are squatting 225lbs, your goal for the end of the year should not be 500lbs. If you are in high school and you see guys at the NFL combine running 4.3 forties, and jumping 40” verticals, do not expect to do the same at this point in time. If the guy next to you jumps 80lbs on bench, but you only jumped 30lbs, don’t be upset. You improved! We all develop at different rates and are blessed with different abilities. Compare yourself to where you were. Did you get better? That is the goal.


There are so many more things that can have a direct impact on your results than just training itself. It is easy to be dedicated for an hour or so a few times a week. It is extremely difficult to be dedicated 24/7. The more factors you have on your side the better your results will be.

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