Components of Peak Fitness
While individual levels of peak fitness vary from person to person, the components involved in helping someone reach their peak fitness are universal. Peak fitness can only be achieved when an athlete focuses on three elements: strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and flexibility training. No matter what type of athlete you are, or what event you are training for, you should include these three elements into your regular training.
To effective strength train for peak fitness you don't have to bulk-up your muscle mass to become a stronger person. Successful strength training will be comprised of exercises targeted at making your body stronger in areas specifically utilized by your sport or activity. If you're a swimmer for example, your strength training will enhance the work you do in the pool by targeting your arms and pecks in a way that helps you pull yourself through the water more efficiently. Or maybe you're a runner who has been experiencing ankle pain. Your strength training should be focused on gradually increasing the strength in your ankles. Your strength training should work with, not against, your main activity to achieve peak fitness.
Cardiovascular Exercise for Peak Fitness
Most athletes are not at a loss for cardiovascular exercise, so the key here to achieving peak fitness is not quantity, but quality. If you're not constantly incorporating some harder work into your cardiovascular exercise routines your level of fitness will plateau. You can accomplish this simply by incorporating segments of high intensity work in the middle of your cardiovascular exercises. If you're doing thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise, after a ten minute easy warm up do two minutes at an 80-90% effort, then slow back down for a minute to allow your heart rate to settle down. Repeat for ten minutes, and then finish with a ten minute cool down. When this pattern becomes easier for you, increase the amount of time you're exercising at a higher intensity, or decrease the time you're resting in between. You'll need to change the intensity of your workouts every four to six weeks to maintain your personal level of peak fitness.
Flexibility Training for Peak Fitness
Flexibility training will give your body the stance to perform more efficiently as an athlete. The more flexible you are, the less likely you will be to suffer a performance related injury, and the easier your body will adapt to and recover from hard exercise. Flexibility training is important to keep your muscles loose, and will both prevent and alleviate cramping. Aim to stretch for at least ten minutes after each of your strength training or cardiovascular exercise sessions. Like strength training, flexibility training will enhance your body's ability to perform more efficiently, thus helping you achieve your peak fitness level.