By: Young Cho and Pauline Baltazar
As summer edges closer with every passing day, and with it, swimsuit season, everyone begins to notice the extra weight they gained over the winter to keep warm. The coveted Sports Illustrated swimsuit model body may seem out of reach, but the only way to get anywhere close to that perfection before summer is to exercise right away.
Starting, however, can be hard, and knowing what to do, even more difficult. To help you begin your journey to a great body, we rounded up some of the school’s finest athletes and asked them for tips on how to get into shape.
For those just beginning to exercise, perhaps the most important thing to remember is to take it slow and to not overwork yourself.
“Don’t try to become a super athlete in a week,” track captain Sang Wook Ha (’14) said. “Set a goal that’s realistic.”
Instead of 100 push-ups and sit-ups or five miles every day, basketball captain Jashley Francisco (’13) says to “start off with whatever you can do and work your way up”–even if it is just a few laps around the track.
The hardest part about being fit is simply getting started and adjusting to the new changes you are enforcing on your body. Do not feel discouraged if a six-pack does not surface after a month of training. The longer you discipline yourself, the more benefits your body will attain.
Foods that boost your metabolism
Aside from the obvious abstinence from junk food and excessive amounts of sugar, it is critical to maintain a balanced diet, particularly focused on protein and carbohydrates in order to stay fit. Depending on your focus of exercise, you will have to adjust how much of what kind of foods you eat. For example, a weight lifter might eat more protein for muscle while an endurance runner might eat more carbohydrates for energy.
Proteins, such as those found in meat, fish, nuts, and milk, are especially important for building blocks of muscle. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and are beneficial to health as long as you choose complex carbohydrates rich in fiber like brown rice, black beans, and whole wheat pasta.
During football season, football captain Jeffrey Truong (’13) eats a lot of muscle-building and hydrating foods such as beef, steak, berries, bananas, and oranges. While Truong avoids soda and junk food, he makes sure to stock up on water and juices.
While it is not obligatory to have a strict diet plan and cut out any foods that are remotely unhealthy, it is important to make sure you have a healthy calorie intake. Also, while a dancer might not have as many calories each day as a football player, it is still important that all athletes get all the nutrients from the basic food groups daily.
When volleyball captain Christian Pacificador (’13) needs to get in shape, he allows himself about 2,000 calories per day based on his height, weight, and age. He uses an iPhone app, the LiveStrong MyPlate Calorie Counter, to record what kinds of food he eats and how many calories they are then subtracts it from his recommended daily intake.
A run a day will keep the laziness away
Running is often seen as boring and monotonous among athletes and non-athletes alike, but it was named by the most athletes to be their top exercise for staying in shape.
The usual sit-ups and push-ups were also popular, along with lunges and other exercises that do not require gym equipment. To squeeze a workout into your daily life, running back Alvin Kim (’14) suggested that you should try walking up the stairs, on your toes, and if you are at home and don’t have weights, try using water bottles instead.
“Working out doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym or anything,” Kim said.
Most of the sports-enthusiasts said that they exercise outdoors or at home, which can be a good alternative to a gym membership, since fees can get expensive. Dumbbells and resistance bands can be used instead of weight machines, and good old-fashioned running around always beats a stagnant treadmill.
Low-impact alternatives, like yoga or pilates, are an easy way to stay in shape without building bulky muscle by using very little equipment. Rather than purchasing exercise videos, free workout videos and diagrams can easily be found online.
Drugs help you fail
Drugs are banned in the rule books of several sports, but are still used by athletes of all skill levels. The use of drugs comes with many harmful, long-term side effects on fitness.
Steroids, the most commonly used drug among athletes, are commonly taken in hopes of improving performance and building muscle and strength, though they may cause ligament and joint injury, liver disease, HIV, and heart problems.
Other drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine, affect memory, judgment, and perception meaning that athletes can expect a weakened performance when it comes to time, coordination, and reactions in games.
Alcohol is extremely dehydrating, slows down the replacement of muscle, and shrinks muscle tissue. Mentally, it can impair concentration and reaction for up to 72 hours.
The reckless use of drugs and alcohol is guaranteed to be the downfall of many professional athletes’ careers. While you spend hard and laborious hours trying to get your body in shape, drugs and alcohol can tear all that down within days. Instead of running miles around the track, you could be running bills and fevers in a hospital.
Stretching goes a long way
Overwhelmingly, the athletes we interviewed stated that stretching is the most important way to avoid injuries. Cross-country and track captain Kenneth Trejo (’13) explained that you should stretch for at least 20 minutes before a workout, while softball captain Kaitlyn Williams (’13) added that stretching after the workout is also important so your muscles don’t hurt.
Stretching was not the only important safety measure mentioned.
“Make sure you are doing the exercise right,” basketball captain Jashley Francisco (’13) said. “Always ask questions.”
Hydration also seemed to be another overriding theme in injury prevention, with nearly every athlete mentioning the importance of water for both health and performance reasons.
Another essential part to fitness is rest. It is perfectly normal to feel sore after exercising as it is an indicator that you have pushed yourself hard enough to break down muscle tissue, and soon, you will have brand new muscle growth. Remember, muscles grow when you are resting and not working out.
Motivating oneself can be just as difficult as the actual exercises, which is why several players suggested working out with friends or exercise buddies. They found that when working out with a friend, each person becomes responsible for both themselves and their companion. Additionally, friends provide some much needed entertainment and verbal motivation during grueling workout sessions.