5 Items You Shouldn't Forget for Competition

For every sport competition, we have our typical packing list of must haves: uniform, food, water, lucky socks. But the more we compete, the more we find ourselves in situations where we didn't have what we needed. And even though we try and buffer for most situations, not everyone knows what to pack just in case. Here are the 5 items you should never forget to bring with you to a competition.

Athletic Tape

There are basic uses for tape that don't require you to become an athletic trainer. You can tape your fingers when they've been jammed, or for joint areas when you need extra support. Other than its intended purpose to tape injuries, the uses for athletic tape can be endless! It can be used for a headgear strap that broke and needs a quick repair, for shoe laces that cannot be loose, for your teammate who ripped their singlet strap, or to repair a broken hair tie when it was your last one! Athletic tape is useful due to its ability to be ripped into half its width. I'm sure you will find even more creative uses than I have!

The Emergency Kit

Your kit should include any medicines (cold medicines for overnight trips) or personal necessities you may need when you have a weekend at a competition. What is often overlooked are the things we think we can buy if we end up needing them, like feminine hygiene products. We never think our period will start during the middle of a tournament... and then it DOES! First thing in your kit should be extra underwear for that unexpected leak, or even for after the competition is over. Bring a variety of tampons, pads, and period underwear (it's the hot new thing, check out Thinx Panties). You never know what you will prefer on the day of competition, and you don't want to be without the options. Even if you've brought more than enough variety of feminine hygiene products for yourself, you'll always have a teammate who has forgotten her own supply. She most likely also didn't anticipate beginning her period on the day of the tournament!

Extra Tee Shirt

I was told years ago by a coach the importance of feeling fresh after the morning warm up before competition, and to always have new clothes to change into. Since then, I always have extras so I am not sitting around in my sweaty warm up clothing. At the very least, having an extra tee shirt to change into after the warm up will help give the mentality of further prepping and preparing to be fresh for competition. Anything that gives you a psychological edge over your competition is always a good thing. 

Rehydration Convenience

If you are depending on a coach or parent to get to a store and get the hydration you need, that might be your first mistake. Depending on others to provide what you know is best for you could result in you not having enough for the day, or ::gasp!:: the wrong type of drink entirely! Now that may sound sarcastic, but having proper hydration is critical. If someone bought the team Gatorade and you only like Powerade, becoming dehydrated helps no one. Be responsible for what you know you need and have it with you in travel packet form. This way it's conveniently always in your competition bag and you can easily mix it into water.

Massage Recovery Tools

Today we have much better understanding about how the body works and how to recover in between workouts. Competition is no exception. After sitting in a gym all day, re-warming up in between matches, and wrestling multiple times in a day, it's important to help those aches and pains. There are a lot of tools you can utilize, but I have a few favorites that work best. A mini travel foam roller, tennis or lacrosse ball to roll out tight areas and knots, or a massage stick roller are amazing products. You can see me hauling almost all my massage tools to each competition. See below for my favorites!

Choosing Underwear for Female Wrestlers

As combat athletes and especially wrestlers, we face a very different set of challenges when it comes to choosing our workout gear. Being in tight fitting leggings, shorts, or competition singlets requires us to look at our undergarments from a different perspective. Gone are the days where we can wear our favorite lucky neon pink undies for competition... especially if we appreciate some modesty. When it comes to wearing spandex, we have to know how "sheer is our gear" before we get into a stance. I have had my fair share of undergarment faux pas, at practices and competitions. Here are my recommendations to help you navigate the world of sport and underwear!

Color

Look for underwear that is the closest to your skin color. Trying to match the color of your underwear to the color of what you are wearing will not always prove successful. Spandex is skin tight and you don't want to differentiate your underwear from your skin. This would be like giving someone x-ray vision to what you are wearing! Unfortunately, the underwear market isn't as diverse as it needs to be to fit all skin colors. You may have to do some digging, but once you find underwear that works for you, ask the company to provide more skin tones. Most likely you're not the only one looking for that product! 

Seamless Thong, Briefs or Bikini 

Stick to the underwear cut that is most comfortable for you. By finding underwear that has a seamless style, you wont have to resort strictly to a thong in order to prevent underwear lines. Briefs or hipster style will cut lower along the hips than a bikini style, which helps with the "no see" look. A thong can be ideal if you often are dealing with adjusting your underwear during practice or competition. However, never purchase a string thong as it has a thick seamed side and will be seen through spandex. Be sure to find a thong with a wider side, and avoid lace on any kind of underwear you choose. Below are some examples of seamless underwear. 

Sweat and Moisture Wicking Fabrics 

It is important to not wear cotton underwear for workouts and competition. Conventional thought told us that because cotton is absorbent, it would be the best material when sweating. However we have learned while cotton may absorb, it doesn't wick the moisture away from the body. This means moisture stays close to the skin, which increases bacteria and may lead to an increased risk of yeast infections. Choose breathable fabrics specifically designed for sport: combinations of microfiber, polyester, nylon, or spandex. The other advantage to sweat wicking fabrics are their convenience to wash and quickly dry if you have any accidental leaks during your period.

Spandex shorts

Your other alternative for practice and competition is wearing black spandex shorts underneath your singlet or workout gear. Now you can wear those lucky neon pink panties and not worry about them showing through! Spandex shorts are thicker underneath your gear, so be sure to find ones that are light and do not bunch as your move. They should have similar properties to the underwear you choose: moisture wicking and breathable.

Whatever undergarments you choose, make sure to have a trusted girlfriend do the "stance check." Can they see your undergarments through your spandex? Underwear isn't something we often discuss, but so many girls have questions about! Bring me all your questions about this topic if you want to see me write more on this subject! 

 


The Struggles of Pregnancy Fitness

I inherently had high expectations coming from my full time job of working out as an elite athlete, to being a pregnant athlete. The first trimester symptoms of pregnancy honestly blind sided me, and I was forced to let my active lifestyle take a backseat. I felt very guilty about not working out, which didn't help my already wavering state of happiness. Listen, it's okay to not feel happy and glowing and positive about all the new changes and hormonal shifts during pregnancy. I give you permission :) When you feel sick and you feel unmotivated, its hard to be happy about your day to day. And for any active female or person, it can be difficult to turn off the voices in your head that tell you to keep going.

I had to come to terms with being okay with not working out like I had anticipated. For myself, I knew the most important thing was to be happy and to have a balance. I think anytime you're in the heat of a phase, especially one where you're not feeling positive, it can be very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I talked with my husband, my friends, and my sports psychologist about what was going through my head. 

Once I was in a place where I felt better and I could start working out again, I began adding hikes to the routine (the perks of living in Colorado). I was really surprised at how quickly I fatigued and became out of breath. My first reaction to my fatigue was, woa woa, this is not right, slow it down. In that moment, I understood the women who feel like working out is a negative addition for them and for their baby. And when it comes to protecting the life growing inside you, there is no compromise. Maybe I wouldn't be able to work up to how I was training as an elite athlete. Would I just fall into the category of another pregnant woman who decides working out is not for them because it's a bit more challenging?

I didn't give up, and continued to try more things over time... but slowly, very very slowly. I began to add what I knew I would be comfortable with. Simple weight training exercises that I knew would also challenge my newly repaired shoulder. My favorite exercise has always been push ups. I feel like they are the most challenging and most rewarding exercise you can do, and all you need is your own body weight! I think that is so freaking cool!

Once I was cleared by my physical therapist, I was excited at the opportunity to start killing it at pushups again! However, by that time, I hadn't anticipated having a 30 pound weight vest attached to me and what that would mean for my progress. Once again, thoughts, worries, and expectations flooded my head. I had to bring myself back to what I've learned in sports psychology, and to what I can do right now. What I think I should be doing doesn't matter. That has now become the most important tool in helping my progress. 

Since then, I have gained much more confidence in what I am capable of and what my body can handle. To my surprise, it's a lot! I do not feel fragile, but I do feel different. And different is okay. Doubt of capabilities can creep in to even the most elite of athletes. 

It is very easy to fall towards the camp of not working out while you're pregnant. It can be scary and intimidating when you feel so very different from your normal self. But there are still ways to incorporate exercise, even if it's slowly. Just as your baby is growing slowly over 40 weeks, you have plenty of time to incorporate the types of activities that make the most sense for you. And you may be completely different at every stage of pregnancy. This gives you the opportunity to adapt when you feel different. One of the biggest lessons from being a professional athlete is learning how to be adaptable with change. You may never have a perfectly scheduled rhythm, and who is to say that's not okay? 

5 Minimalist Items You Need for a Home Workout

It can be tempting to fall into the trap of accumulating workout gear in order to get a good sweat at home. I decided to put together the 5 items that I have personally used for years and LOVE. They are good quality, long lasting, and minimal! There is no reason to have endless amounts of un-used workout gear that take up space in your home. For me, it is so important to be able to put everything away after I am done. By minimizing the workout gear clutter, you will find you can focus on and enjoy your workouts so much more!

1. Foam Roller

If you haven't jumped on the band wagon yet for foam rollers, its time to stop being such a skeptic! It is fast becoming the go-to tool for muscle prep and recovery for all workouts. Also called self-mayofascial release, it supports immediate body improvements and is a universal tool used for every part of the body. Think of it as an alternative for getting soft-tissue work done by a therapist on your fascia, or first layer of soft tissue. For most of us, its not practical to get weekly or daily massages, and a good foam roller can help in that absence. Its benefits include relaxing and prepping tight muscles, increasing blood flow, increased range of motion, reduced muscle tension, and increased recovery post workout. 

A good foam roller is a must for getting effective results. As effective as a basic soft or high density foam roller can be, you will quickly find that your body will adjust to the smooth surface. As you improve and adjust the intensity of your own workouts, your foam roller should be able to adjust to the next level along with you. The best option is going towards a sports medicine-style foam roller with grids that allow for next level focus on your muscles. The best on the market are the Trigger Point foam rollers. They carry multiple sizes, and I in LOVE with my 26" roller and the mini size. The mini allows for compact travel and is great to pinpoint problem areas. The 26" Trigger Point Roller is a fantastic investment to use before and after all of your workouts. This product is worth the extra price, as it does the job of many tools advertised. This product will last you a lifetime, and you don't run the risk of a less expensive foam roller made of expanded polypropylene (EPP) loosing its shape over time.

2. Bands

Therapy bands or exercise bands are must for your at home workout. Not only are they extremely versatile, but they can allow you to complete more movements with resistance than weights ever can. They also provide a huge range of resistance strength, from light to heavy, which help simulate using heavy weights. It comes in handy if you are traveling for business or for competition. If you are ever in a tight spot, you can conveniently travel with your bands so you can get a workout in anywhere. There is a ton of variety available, but the best bands to start out with (and best bang for your buck!) is TheraBand. They are thin, lightweight bands that allows you to do a wide variety of exercises. They are color coordinated which is super convenient, so you can record your progress as you increase resistance colors. The beginner set allows you to increase resistance as you shorten your grip on the band, and you can control the tension. You can tie the two loose ends to change the tension and to utilize a different type of workout. These are thin, so I would not recommend looping over something stationary and leaning back for a body weighted pull-type exercise. The only problem any kind of silicon rubber band is the possibility of loosing tension over time, or ripping. Take care of your bands and they will take care of you!

3. Weighted Medicine Ball

I've used weighted medicine balls in my training for years. Most of the time I would utilize a larger, soft shell medicine ball used for dynamic movements, plyometric, throwing, and partner exercises. But when it comes to my home gym, I have to be able to maximize my workout in a much smaller space. Using a smaller rubber shell ball allows for dynamic work without needing huge amounts of space. Using the rebounding and rolling capabilities, I can get creative with my at home workouts. These rubber medicine balls are extremely durable, and I can't see them needing to be replaced at any time. Find a mid-range weight (I recommend between 8-12 pounds) that will allow you to be versatile in your workouts and use it for more than just med ball slams. 

4. Jump Rope

There is no reason to have to invest in bulky equipment like stationary bikes, treadmills, or row machines. They take up space in your home and in your mind. They become a constant reminder that if you don't use them, you don't get your money's worth! Hands down the best way to add in cardio and agility is through jump roping. I love a basic jump rope, which is why I chose the one below! I am not a big fan of the jump ropes that have metal clamps exposed for adjusting. They don't allow any kind of dynamic rope turning and get twisted if you try. If I slip down on the handle, I risk getting rubbed by the metal or the exposed end of the rope. Give me simplicity and I'm a happy girl! The rope below gives the best of both worlds, with comfortable handles and no catching or hinging  problems. It still allows for height adjustment by unscrewing the handles from the rope. Everything is hidden in the handles and you get to choose your color! 

5. Tabata Timer 

I love tabata or interval workouts for home!  The best way to time myself has been using my Gymboss Interval Timer. I have used many tabata or interval timers apps on my phone, but I continue to go back to my Gymboss. It allows me to have the timer clipped right to me if I need to move around the house (or at a gym) to create my workout, which makes it so convenient! No more worrying about moving my phone near me to hear the timer, or if I want to check what set I am on but my phone is across the room. I have often used an interval app in a busy gym, and I never feel comfortable moving from exercise to exercise with it laying on the floor. I especially HATE having a big beeper on that would be distracting to others around me. Not to mention, a phone call or text message interrupting the timer or throwing you off your game. That is so NOT needed in the middle of a great workout. The Gymboss has a vibrate setting so no one needs to know my interval times but me! I bought mine in 2009 and it is still going strong! 

The Gymboss allows you to choose the number of sets, your work time, your rest time, or if you just want it to time you continuously. You can change the alarm duration as well as how loud the beep is, if you add vibrate, or use only vibrate. This little guy gives you complete control and complete focus on your workouts! 


Related Posts

What You Need to Know About Getting NASM CPT Certified

I am officially as Certified Personal Trainer! Starting with registering back in November, I've been navigating my way through human sciences, nutrition, and program design. If feels great to say I've accomplished this milestone! Are you also thinking of taking a route towards personal training? Here are some tips to help you know where to begin and how to prepare for the test properly:

 

What Do I Need to Begin?

You need a passion for sport sciences and a passion to apply your knowledge to help others. Mine came from years of being trained by others as a professional athlete. I learned so much through being trained, but realized when I wanted to explain what I learned to others, I didn't always have the answers. I personally don't plan on working at a gym, but this could aways change. My motivation was to provide more material for my awesome readers and subscribers of LuchaFIT, and to work one on one with people trying to reach their goals. Your end goal doesn't have to be working in a gym, your motivation for personal training can lead you to many opportunities. 

 

How Much Background in Sports Science is Needed?

The more you have, the better! My background boasts solely of what I have learned being a professional athlete, because my undergraduate degree is in business. Just realize that you may need to focus on science concepts a little longer while you are studying for your certification. It is not a deal breaker in any way if you lack any formal studying or training in human and sports science.

 

Which Package Should I Buy?

ALWAYS look for their 20% off packages. NASM is consistently running deals. Take advantage of paying in installments, they are interest free and helpful on your wallet. 

Asses where you are in your life and how much time you will be able to devote to studying. They currently offer 4 different packages, all with varying prices based on the materials you will be provided. I went with the most basic package, but I also knew I would have the time available to spend studying. Knowing that there is a lot of material to retain and knowing how well you study entirely on your own (this was my first "online" class), it can be beneficial to take advantage of a package with more resources. While you are in the thick of studying, you will never regret having more resources. It can be a long an arduous studying process, so if you think you will need it, spend the extra money. 

 

What Outside Resources Helped You?

Besides going through every video, activity, quiz, study guide, and test provided by NASM through their online portal, I spend time on as many free quiz websites and resources as I could find. Here's two that were my favorite:

FitnessMentors.com is a great website with a lot of options available to you. They have a free quiz, a free study guide, and some tough NASM test questions and answers that could be a part of your test. They also have tests you can pay for if you went with the most basic NASM package and find yourself needing more study materials.

The other favorite online resource was Quizlet.com. They have online flashcards of many of the chapter terms made by others, and you can make your own flashcards to study from. My favorite was the flashcards of over and under-active muscles. This was a harder area to memorize and I really benefited from finding it on Quizlet.

Besides the resources mentioned, there is a large thread of people discussing their NASM CPT testing experiences on bodybuilding.com, as well as others who have made study guides or areas to study. I had found a lot of these discussions when I first began researching, which were helpful, but later became overwhelming. There are so many opinions and thoughts about the test; whether its the hardest test they've ever taken, the easiest test they've ever taken, or about the million different areas you have to focus on. Reality is, if you have committed to taking this test, arm yourself with resources and dive in. You know what you are capable of, and only you can actually put in the work to retain the information. 

https://www.fitnessmentors.com/free-nasm-practice-test/

https://quizlet.com/30949092/overactive-and-under-active-muscles-flash-cards/

 

What Would You Change if You Had to do it Again?

One simple study tactic I would have done to save myself time would have been to begin writing out my flashcards while I read through the book. Flashcards are so important, don't neglect doing them! You need to know the terms throughout the book. 

Print out the study guide from NASM as soon as you are done reading. I did not get this resource until my last 2 months of studying, but I would have used it right away to help guide my study practices. 

Get through the NASM online chapter resources right away, there is no reason to have to cram that in at the end. They are helpful and get you step by step towards the mid-term and practice tests provided. I didn't realize the 50-100 question tests were hidden amongst the resources. I spent too long thinking the activities and quizzes were silly and time consuming until I realized how nicely it built into the tests. 

 

Just a Few of the Important Focus Areas to Spend Time On:

Terms, terms, terms! 

Over and under-active muscles, the recommended exercises and stretches that focus on these areas

Know the reps, sets, rest, tempo, 1 Rep Max %, and types of stretching recommended for all the levels of the OPT model: i.e acute variables

Know and understand the nervous, muscular, skeletal, endocrine, cardiorespiratory, and digestive systems

Know the calories in 1 gram of carbs, protein, and fat, as well as the daily caloric recommendations

Have your planes of motion down (sagittal, frontal, transverse) , and how they are applied to exercises

aerobic and anaerobic metabolism (ATP-PC, Glycolysis, Oxidative)

Understanding exercises and which level of the OPT model they belong to 

Subjective vs. objective information for assessments

Heart rate zones, when to use them, and the 

How to progress and regress exercises 

Hydration and dehydration concepts

Know your muscles, I used this book: https://www.amazon.com/Human-Body-Coloring-Book/dp/0756682347/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1498584222&sr=1-1&keywords=the+human+body+coloring+book

Retake the quizzes, midterm, and tests from NASM. You will never regret it because its easy to think you understand a question after you see what the right answer is. Make sure you know this information! 

So many have said this and I will say the same thing, it's not about memorization, its about retaining and understanding how to apply what you are learning. If you don't understand a concept, make sure you do the research so you do. Having done the work to have a well rounded understanding of concepts helped me on the test when it asked something I felt I didn't know the exact answer. 

 

Best of luck!