Sports Training & Conditioning Zone!

Are Your Athletes Burning Out?

Brett Bartholomew By Brett Bartholomew, performance specialist at EXOS

As mentioned in last month's article, Inside EXOS' NFL Combine Prep Program, we train all our athletes—youth, college, pro, and tactical—using a systems-based approach to Mindset, Nutrition, Movement, and Recovery. While each plays an equally important role in building well-rounded, durable athletes, Mindset and Recovery are often the most overlooked by athletes.

We live in a society where we seem to always be on the edge of extremes in training, eating, working, and everything else. It's all too much. Pushing day after day with no break seems normal because it's all around us. It's not normal. Finding a middle ground gives the mind and body time to refresh, rejuvenate, and rebuild. In the end, this makes for a better athlete.

During training, athletes are breaking down their muscles and fuel stores. It's during their downtime that the actual building of muscle occurs, making a fitter, stronger, more powerful athlete. We want to introduce a stimulus, stress the body, let it recover and adapt, and repeat. That's how you get the best results. Send athletes home after each session with practical, simple ways to let their body recover, like a hot/cold shower or foam rolling.

Physical recovery is essential, but it's the mental part that matters most. Athletes often seem indomitable, but, like everyone else, they need time off so they don't lose interest in training or burn out. If they consistently push day after day and their training plan is too rigid, they'll become stagnant and eventually their anxiety and stress will show in their performance.

Specific recovery time depends on the athlete and the type and amount of training. Taking a few days a week to rest or participate in recreational activities like jogging or playing hoops can keep the body and mind fresh. Between the end of the season and getting back into training, a two-week period of active recovery is paramount. However, if there is too much downtime (three to six weeks), the body starts to lose endurance, power, muscle, and strength.

While we implement these strategies with elite athletes and teams at the top of their sports, they're relevant to anyone. Everyone needs time to recover and refresh from work, daily life, and sports. Are you giving your athletes the downtime they need? If not, start today.

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