The 5 Pillars of High Performance: Introduction
When it comes to high performance, I firmly believe it comes down to the five fundamental pillars, which I am going to delve into in this article. I have intentionally refrained from prioritizing these pillars in any particular order, as all of them play an integral role in the lives of individuals I admire who have achieved remarkable success. If you’re determined to elevate your life to the next level and optimize your performance, I strongly recommend embracing all five of these pillars.
Pillar 1 of High Performance: Strength Training
Research unequivocally supports the immense benefits of strength training. It’s not limited to combatting osteoporosis and sarcopenia; the advantages are multifaceted. Engaging in strength training empowers you in various aspects of life, from effortlessly ascending stairs to comfortably lifting your children or grandchildren. To be precise, strength training entails lifting weights exceeding 70% of your one-rep max. To achieve genuine strength adaptations, it’s imperative to push your limits. Therefore, activities like pilates, yoga, and soul cycle classes, while valuable in their own right, do not measure up to the rigors of true strength training.
Pillar 2 of High Performance: Recovery & Sleep
The second pillar, although widely discussed, paradoxically boasts the lowest compliance rate. We all acknowledge the significance of obtaining 7-9 hours of sleep each night, yet it frequently takes a backseat in our busy lives. Many of us might even be fortunate to secure a mere 6 hours of sleep nightly. We tend to cite a multitude of excuses for sleep deprivation, but in reality, we should be finding excuses to prioritize our sleep. It’s worth noting that insufficient sleep and inadequate brain recovery during our twenties and thirties can often lead to the onset of conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia later in life.
Pillar 3 of High Performance: Nutrition
Let’s keep this uncomplicated: CONSUME MORE WHOLE FOODS. A straightforward rule of thumb is to focus on the items located around the perimeter of the grocery store. We understand that life can get chaotic, time can be in short supply, and sometimes we succumb to the allure of a Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast sandwich paired with a sugar-laden large coffee. Do you find yourself in this predicament? Be honest with yourself; such choices won’t provide the fuel you need for your day. Once you slip into the cycle of poor nutrition, it can swiftly escalate. The simplest approach to break this cycle involves two key steps: 1. Keep unhealthy options out of your house. 2. Commit to meal prep. I can assure you that once you commence this journey, it becomes progressively easier. Just like anything else, taking the initial step is the most challenging.
Pillar 4 of High Performance: Aerobic Base
Aerobic base training encompasses workouts designed to boost your aerobic threshold, enhancing your capacity to sustain prolonged, steady-state efforts. You may wonder why this is crucial. For those aspiring to be high achievers, I presume you have an array of aspirations. With a robust aerobic base, you’ll experience better overall health, expedited recovery, and the ability to engage in a wide array of activities, whether it’s a 5k run, skiing, hiking, leisurely strolls with your dog, romantic walks with your spouse, or leisurely bike rides along the beach. And for those with more ambitious performance goals, a well-developed aerobic base equates to increased work capacity and a heightened ability to recover. For a deeper insight into this subject, explore Jonah Rosner’s work.
Pillar 5 of High Performance: Progressive Overload
In the realm of performance enhancement, a consistent pursuit of progress is paramount. One of the frequent pitfalls observed among athletes is the lack of gradual progression or abrupt spikes in intensity and volume that ultimately lead to injuries and time on the injured reserve list. When discussing the concept of progressive overload, it’s crucial to consider the following factors:
- Intensity: The percentage of effort invested in the task at hand.
- Volume: The product of sets and repetitions, representing the total workload.
- Density: The quantity of work accomplished within a specified timeframe.
Pragmatically, it’s unwise to push for progress in more than one or two of these aspects simultaneously. While it might be manageable initially, the body’s capacity to endure stress is finite. On a week-by-week basis, a modest 5% increase is the target for sustainable growth. Excessive spikes in intensity can predispose athletes to injuries. Furthermore, incorporating periodic de-load weeks is advisable; the frequency of these de-load weeks may vary, but I recommend implementing them every 4-6 weeks to allow the body to super-compensate and thrive. Stay tuned for more insights on this topic!
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