What does it mean to be an athlete? You already know the answer: it’s a decision! You set a goal and decide to pursue it with determination, dedication and willpower. But what is that goal?
The four characteristics of an athlete
We have defined four characteristics that every free athlete should work on: speed, mobility, strength and endurance.
The goal of every free athlete is to develop these abilities and gradually improve. Therefore, a free athlete does not have just one goal, but four. Part of this is also recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, having the willpower to work on them and growing beyond your limits. A free athlete knows his body and what it is capable of – all by returning to the basics of human movement.
Why bodyweight training?
To reach the aforementioned goals, training with only your bodyweight is the best choice you can make.
You cannot get distracted by machines or heavy weights and you only work with what mother nature gave you: your own body. You do not perform unnatural movements but such which the muscular system is created for. Not single muscles but large muscle groups and chains, working together in a functional matter, are worked. As the sequences of movement can become pretty complex, brain and body need to work together closely The result: more mobility, coordination and agility – more motion intelligence. Firstly, this means that you are able to learn new movement patterns quicker. Secondly, your posture and the way you walk will improve and everyday activities become easier and more natural.
To summarize; your body awareness will improve. Regular Freeletics training will make you not only stronger and more persistent (both in a strength and cardiovascular sense), it also promotes mobility, coordination, stability and balance. These attributes are in turn essential to train all other athletic skills properly.
Why running then?
However, the most intuitive of all movements, for men, is still running. When we run we return to the most genuine kind of motion.
Some of you might know this quote by the running athlete Emil Zátopek. It sounds like a law of nature and in fact it actually is. Anthropologists and physicians refer to man as a “running machine” for good reason. About 70% of your muscles are used while running – more than during almost any other movement.
For this reason, running is a great exercise and an essential part of almost all sports and integral to a coherent training program. To start, every athlete has to have a basic level of endurance which they can achieve through a training program of short sprints, middle distance and longer distance runs.
Basic endurance is a very valuable asset as it improves performance and health of heart, blood circulation and lungs. Running training helps to increase the heart volume and the power of your heartbeat, it makes blood vessels more elastic and increases the lung capacity. Thus, all your bodily organs can be better supplied with oxygen and nutrients, which benefits both physical and mental performance – even at rest. It frees the mind and strengthens cognitive abilities. Not to mention the reduction of stress hormones and the release of endorphins!
What is so special about this combination?
The combination of bodyweight training and running makes your muscles stronger and more persistent at the same time – which stands for greater athleticism. We will let you know more about this process and the different types of muscle fiber involved in another article.
Running training helps you to complete intense workouts easier. As your breathing becomes more controlled and more effective, muscles are better supplied with blood and can regenerate faster. In short: your endurance levels increase – even during the workout.
Vice versa, bodyweight training also improves your stability, balance, coordination and agility for running. You can avoid obstacles easier and faster, your steps are safer. Joints and ligaments are strengthened and work more efficiently. Your running technique continues to improve over time. As you can see, there is a reciprocal relationship between running and bodyweight training; one supporting the other. Freeletics is both!
You can run in all weathers, at any time and anywhere. Fresh air and changing backgrounds even enhance the effects stated above.
Don’t get discouraged if you have difficulties in the beginning – especially with longer runs. Taking short walking breaks is important and can even help improve your performance. The important thing is that you stay moving. Over time, you will need fewer breaks. You already know this from your Freeletics training: after just a few sessions, your stamina improves significantly.
Mother nature has equipped you with the best training device on earth: your body. Be thankful for this gift and show it by making the most out of it: speed, mobility, strength and endurance – the four characteristics that make the difference between an average athlete and a free athlete. Running is not an addition to Freeletics but part of Freeletics. It is not just a nice plus (that can be skipped sometimes), but critical for an effective athletic lifestyle, increased performance and an improved aesthetic appearance.