Becoming an elite athlete requires a wide variety of skills as well as unrelenting focus. While many athletes may hope that the basics of a good diet and well-outlined exercise program will be enough to take them to the next level, here is a look at 12 unique things that every athlete will wish they have tried sooner.

1. Hone Your Cognitive Skills

Modern elite athletes understand that pushing themselves in the gym and sticking to a strict diet is no longer enough to keep up with the competition. Athletes should be constantly looking for ways to improve their reaction times, decision making ability, and other cognitive skills.

2. Do Yoga at Least Once a Week

Stretching is a chore for many athletes, and this means that dedicating 30 minutes to an hour on yoga every single week is almost out of the question for many. What these individuals may not realize is that an hour of yoga may be exactly what is needed to breakthrough a training plateau when nothing else seems to be working.

3. Create a Strict Sleeping Schedule

Setting a strict sleeping schedule and then sticking to it is one of the most important steps for allowing muscle fibers to repair themselves and rebuild. While every single athlete is different, everyone should remember that the more they train, the more sleep they will need.

4. Stop Doing Other People’s Workout Programs

There is no single training program or system that is going to be perfect for every single person. Exploring established training routines is a great place to start, but athletes should take a closer look on how they can adapt their own training program to meet their goals.

5. Always Focus on Mobility

A sizable percentage of one’s training should be spent on pre-workout and post-workout stretching. This is often the single biggest factor when it comes to preventing injuries that will set an athlete back for weeks or even months.

6. Never Stop Setting Goals

There should never be a point in an athlete’s career in which they do not have multiple goals. Setting goals, accomplishing them, and then setting more goals will keep an individual focus and hungry.

7. Get Checkups Regularly

The more time and energy that is spent training the higher the chance of long-term or chronic injuries. Dedicated athletes should be getting thorough checkups at least once a year, but 2 to 3 times a year is ideal.

8. Surround Yourself with Successful Athletes

Just as with any other facet of one’s life, being around successful and hard-working individuals is a great motivator. Even if the athlete is in a different sport, their drive and passion will be contagious.

9. Tweak Your Diet

There is no single style of diet that is right for everyone, and each athlete will need to discover their own ideal foods and supplements. The diet will also need to be altered when one’s goals change or their training has been altered.

10. Always Have Crosstraining Options

When an injury comes up or some other mishap makes one’s training program no longer plausible there should always be a backup option. Crosstraining such as bike riding, yoga, or swimming will allow the athlete to improve without aggravating injuries.

11. Allow Your Body to Rest

Rest days and even rest weeks are a necessity for every health enthusiasts and serious athletes. When the muscles are no longer responding to training it may be time to add a few extra rest days in each month.

12. Record Everything

From the moment that an individual begins to train, it is vital to record all data in order to discover both positive and negative trends. Athletes should have a calendar or planner which details their exercises, at what time of day they are exercising, their meals, and any personal PRs.

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