3 ways to train like an elite athlete

It’s 7 a.m. and the stage is set—equipment placed, warm up and stretching exercises scheduled and hydration plan posted. Soon, elite athletes from around the world will arrive on the field for an Indy Eleven practice.

As the head athletic trainer for the Indy Eleven, Brian Gerlach of Community Sports Medicine not only has everything prepared for a great practice, he also has an injury prevention strategy for the team.

Brian helps athletes stay at the top of their game. So we asked him, What can amateur athletes learn from the pros?

Have a hydration plan

Water is an important part of every workout. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade are also an option, but, “Unless you’re exercising for more than two hours a day, you probably don’t need the sugar that’s in most sports drinks,” Brian explains. Water is the way to go.

Bring a water bottle with you on your run or to the gym, and make sure that you take water breaks.

If you want to replace electrolytes, salt can help. “Add a little salt to your diet to get the electrolytes you need,” advises Brian. They will help your body absorb water.

Don’t skip the warm up

Jumping into a workout can strain your muscles and lead to injury. “At age thirty, the risk for muscle strains goes through the roof,” Brian explains. “A proper warm-up becomes even more important.”

Start any workout with several minutes on a bike or a brisk walk. Ease into your activity. Then, start stretching.

Do active stretches

Stretching also prevents injury. Be sure to stretch all the muscles you are going to use in your workout.

Brian recommends active stretches—holding your pose for 3-5 seconds. This will engage your muscles and prepare your body for your workout.