Work Out Like a Professional Athlete: 3 Fitness Rules You Must Follow

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty ImagesRichard Sherman (#25) of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates with his teammates during the 2013 NFC Championship Game.

These Seattle Seahawks players all live by certain fitness rules | Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Ever wonder how athletes from the NFL, NBA, and other professional sports leagues maintain their frames? These individuals are at the pique of their physical prowess — you’d be hard-pressed to find more fine-tuned human specimens anywhere on Earth. That’s the result of a number of factors, including the fact that in the United States we have food and water in abundance, a market demand for athletic competition, and a system that allows for individuals of all backgrounds to work their way to the highest levels of their chosen sport.

To really put things in perspective, we’re lucky that we even get to see these guys play every week, especially considering that in other parts of the world, war, famine, and disease are rampant.

With that in mind, you can still take advantage of your (what are hopefully) relatively peaceful and abundant surroundings. If you want to emulate our nation’s top athletes, it’s going to take some serious work. Whether your goal is to look fantastic, fend off body fat and build muscle, or actually join the ranks of these athletes through one channel or another, it’s going to require dedication and discipline.

The important thing to remember, if you’re really serious about building your physique in the mold of Lebron James or Marshawn Lynch, is that there is one big difference between professional athletes and the rest of the population. The key term here is “professional” — that is, building and maintaining a body meant for tomahawk slam dunks, or smashing through defensive lines is literally these guys’ job. They can spend all day working out, meeting with dietitians, and consulting with physical trainers because they get paid to do it.

Whereas, on the other hand, most of us have to find the time to make it to the gym outside of work and family obligations, and also pony up the cash for professional consulting, or fitness center access. Right off the bat, you’re at a disadvantage. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

In order to work out like a professional athlete, you should stick to three primary fitness rules.

1. Make fitness a priority

Man wearing gym clothes and a gym bag grabs fruit and a bottle of water for after his workout

Heading out for a workout should become routine | Source: iStock

If you want a body like a professional athlete, your first priority is to make fitness a priority. Though we should be taking our level of physical fitness seriously in any case, this becomes particularly important for athletes. Their bodies are, after all, the tool with which they make a living. Imagine never upgrading or cleaning up your computer, if you’re someone who writes or stares at spreadsheets all day?

If your body is your means of making a living, you’re going to make damn sure you’re taking care of it. Making fitness a priority means that you’re subscribed to a locked-in workout regimen, following a focused diet, and that you’re not cutting corners. It’s not always fun, and it’s going to be incredibly time consuming — but that’s what it takes.

2. Set your goals

You don’t want to go at this flying blind; you’ll need to actually set some goals to guide your odyssey. For example, do you want a body that is built to punishment, like that of an NFL running back? Or do you want to focus more on flexibility and mobility, like that of an NBA point guard? Or perhaps you just want to build up a solid level of toughness and durability, like an NHL defenseman? Establishing, in your head, what you want is the first step.

Once you know what your goal is, you can design workouts and a diet to help you get there. If you want to focus on mobility and flexibility, there are certain workouts and exercises you’ll want to emphasize. If it’s muscle you’re after, your plan will be different. And the same goes for your diet.

3. Adapt

runner sitting in the grass holding a leg injury

Injuries happen, so you have to be willing to adjust | Source: iStock

Finally, you’ll need to be able to adapt on the fly — like professional athletes do in the heat of the moment. If you suffer an injury, for example, you’ll want to adapt your workouts and exercises. Of course, if it’s serious enough, you’ll need to take a break so that you don’t permanently injure yourself. But if you’re experiencing some bumps, bruises, or soreness, you can swap some workout elements for others, to ensure that you’re not losing ground on your quest for an athlete’s body.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger

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