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4 Simple Things Top Athletes Do To Get In Amazing Shape

Fitness and yoga guru Kent Katich knows athletes. A collegiate basketball player himself, he has worked with the likes of the USMNT’s Jermaine Jones, the NBA’s Kevin Love, MLB’s Giancarlo Stanton, and the NFL’s Eddie George. Throughout his experiences with these men, he has built up a knowledge base on how athletes should take care of themselves. Katich’s focus might be yoga, but he has universal knowledge of what you and every other athlete - no matter what the sport you play or how old you are — should be doing in order to elevate your fitness and get in amazing shape.  

We were lucky enough to speak with Katich at length about his fitness philosophies. During the call, we picked his brain about what basic routines every athlete can benefit from. Don’t worry, he didn’t tell us to do an hour-and-a-half yoga class three times a week (although that would help) or to make kale the focus of your diet (which would probably help, too).

The tips that he had for us are simple things that everyone, not just professional athletes, can and should do to get in amazing shape – and stay in shape for life. After all, we all have to perform, maybe not under bright lights or in front of tens of thousands of fans, but performance is performance. 

Indeed, after hearing what Katich had to say about sitting, we average folk might need to listen to these tips more than our professional athlete counterparts.

“If you total up all the time you're know, typically you wake up in the mooring, you sit down, and you have your breakfast. Alright, well you’re sitting; now your hamstrings and your hip flexors are in an unnatural position. Then you’re gonna sit in your car. Then you’re gonna probably sit some more at lunch, and then you’re gonna sit in a movie theater. Then you’re gonna sit on the couch, and then your gonna sit at work. Then you’re gonna sit on a plane. Then you’re gonna sit — it’s just constant and it's not conducive to taking care of your body.”

We don’t know about you, but we were standing by the end of that quote. It’s clear that we all can use some help when it comes to taking better care of ourselves.

The following four tips can be applied by anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are running around in a recreational league, fighting for a first team spot at Arsenal, or simply going about your daily business. Read up and pay close attention to how Katich advises professional athletes maintan their fitness – and how the rest of us can get in amazing shape. One of these might just give you the boost you’ve always looked for. 

4 Simple Things Professional Athletes Do To Get In Amazing Shape

1. Eat Right

Get In Amazing shape with delicious dishes like this one: peppered smoked salmon, grilled asparagus, and eggs.

No one said it had to taste bad. Photo: @AirForce_Carl | Twitter

“90% of who we are is about what we eat,” says Katich, and he doesn’t necessarily mean that in a philosophical sense. Eating right, according to Katich, can make or break a workout. If you put a bunch of greasy burgers into your body before a work out, you’ll have to work a lot harder to get results. “It’s just not efficient.”

While Katich acknowledges that attitudes towards junk food are changing (it used to be a real badge of honor to eat all the bad food you wanted was and still perform), he believes young athletes need to continue pay attention to what they put into their bodies, and push even further towards a healthier lifestyle.

So how should you alter your diet?

Some quick research will tell you that cutting out fast food and empty calories from your diet — such as burgers, french fries, pizza, and candy — is a great first step. Removal of all processed foods from your diet is better, and cooking from scratch, although not necessary, is even better still.

Cooking from scratch allows you to control everything that you put into a dish, and thus into your body. Plus, you get to learn how to cook.

2. Sleep

Get in amazing shape by not getting bad sleep like this guy who has his dog's paw in his face.

Interrupted sleep = poor sleep. Photo: @pascalmeier74 | Twitter

Seems simple, right? Well, it is, but that doesn’t mean that you are doing it right, or should we say, enough. A lot of young athletes, Katich says, don’t respect their sleep cycles like they should. They stay up late playing video games, going out with their friends, and doing other things young people tend to do late at night. All of these habits lead to bad sleep habits, and the consequences of poor sleep are real. 

“Unfortunately, I’ve seen guys really mess themselves up by not sleeping properly,” said Katich. “I’ve seen some guys ruin their careers.”

Sounds like sleep should be taken seriously. 

Lack of sleep has a cascading negative affect on athletes. It renders them unable to train well, which prevents them from reaching their potential, which in turn stops them from performing on the field come game day.

While the necessary amount of sleep you should get every night is debated, 7-9 hours of sleep is widely accepted as a good amount. 

But again, the hard part isn’t sleeping. It’s being disciplined enough to get to bed every night when your friends, video games, and the night life are begging you not to.

3. Establish A Conditioning Routine

Get in amazing shape by improving your conditioning. Get better than this overweight guy struggling on the track.

You can make sure your's is better than this guy's. Photo: @WePIaySoccer | Twitter

Katich definitely subscribes to the old philosophy that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. 

“If you’re in better condition that somebody else, you’ve got a lot better chance. I don’t care how talented you are; I would rather be in better shape than somebody more talented.”

You need to have good stamina if you want to be able to compete. John Stockton, says Katich, one of the greatest point guards in the history of the NBA, was famous for his conditioning. He couldn’t out sprint or out jump anyone in the league, but he could outlast anyone; he just kept going.

Again, it all comes back to training. An athlete with poor conditioning simply won’t be able to train as hard as a different athlete with good conditioning.

Katich said that training hard doesn’t necessarily mean running 5 miles or spending an hour on the stationary bike. He prefers interval sprint training, as it offers a more efficient work out. 

He advises that athletes get off bad surfaces like concrete and asphalt and get on a track or some other surface that reduces the impact on joints. Once on a good surface, you should focus on your form and getting your heart pumping. Doing all of this will ensure that you get the work out that you need and improve your conditioning.

4. Commit To A Stretching Routine

Get In Amazing Shape: Ronaldo's Stretching Routine

Guess what? The best athletes in the world like Ronaldo do lots of stretching. And not just touching their toes. (Photo: @MEGSkinBody | Twitter)

Streching is often one of the most overlooked aspects of working out, says Katich, and that is extremely detrimental – especially for young people.

“I think what’s been missing, with the younger people, is the impatience.”

Athletes don’t want to spend time sitting still, holding a pose. Katich understands that, and wants you to know that stretching doesn’t have to be a marathon.  

“It doesn’t mean you gotta stretch for an hour. It doesn’t mean you have to go to an hour and a half yoga class — it’s great to go through one of those — but one of the cool things I thought we did with our athletic [yoga] series is each guy has four twenty minute routines.”

The yoga series he is talking about is one he partnered with Gaiam to create, featuring all the of the athletes mentioned in the introduction of this article: Jermaine Jones, Giancarlo Stanton, Eddie George, and Kevin Lose. Katich built a twenty minute stretching routine with each of them, and twenty minutes, he says, is all you need. 

The stretches in your routine don’t have to be the equivalent of rocket science, either. As an example, soccer players should focus on targeting their hamstrings, calfs, quads, ankles, feet, and hips. Most players learn suitable stretches when they are with their teams doing pre game warm-ups, but Katich has some specific, yoga-influenced stretches that he believes every soccer player should perform. 

Downward Dog 

This is one of the most practiced yoga poses, and for good reason. Katich says it is “a must do” no matter what sport you are in. It targets the hamstrings, achilles, feet, and back of the shoulders. It also gets your head below your heart, something that Katich says is beneficial. 

You can find a full 20-minute stretching routine here.

Thread the Needle 

This unorthodox looking pose will help open up your back and shoulders. 

You can find a full 20-minute stretching routine here.

Side Angle

This pose works across your body, relieving stiffness in the shoulders and back, as well as stretching your groins and hamstrings. It strengthens your legs, knees, and ankles. It stretches and tones your abs.  

You can find a full 20-minute stretching routine here

Hero Pose

This simple looking pose can actually be quite hard if your body is not prepared for it. It involves sitting on your own heels, and does a great job of stretching your thighs, knees, and ankles. If the pose proves to painful or strenuous, Katich suggests placed a ball between your feet and under your butt to ease the difficulty of it. 

Now, these four streches might seem stupid, unnecessary, or even impossible if you are not familiar with yoga. They are not. With practice and dedication you can learn how to perform them well. 

If you feel like you need added help, more onsite, or just want to learn more about yoga in general, you should really check out Kent Katich’s Athletic Yoga series. In it, he makes yoga accessible for a new generation of athletes who want to elevate their game, or for young people who want to get in amazing shape as part of a healthy lifestyle. These are not superfluous tips. These videos can have a real impact on how you perform on the field, and will help you carry out the tips outlined in this article. 

There are four video in the series, and they are all worth checking out. You’ve just seen three clips from them in the suggested stretching section above. One we know soccer fans will love features Jermaine Jones of the USMNT. You can check it out below and get the full video, which offers a series of 20-minute stretching routines.

Get In Amazing Shape: Athletic Yoga With Jermaine Jones

We all need training, this is just a version of it that no one else has; it could be the leg up you need. 

At the end of the day, we know that these tips might seem like simple common sense. If you think that, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is junk food a part of your diet?
  2. Do you consistently get enough sleep before you train or go to work?
  3. When you train, do you commit to high intensity workouts that will build a strong heart and stamina?
  4. Can you stretch for twenty minutes without repeating a stretch once?

If you answered "no" to any of these questions, you can benefit from the four tips above to get in amazing shape. You need to take care of your body, because if there’s anything that you should take away from the advice of Kent Katich, it’s that your body is the key to your success. 

Follow me on Twitter: @yetly

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