The ability to maintain consistent advances is the pinnacle for every athlete. Here’s the boxes you should always be ticking if you wish to be better.

1 Eat to recover

If recovery is compromised by 50%, performance will be too – the correlation between the two is interchangeable. The most basic level of recovery only occurs when your protein requirements are met every day. For most, this figure will fall somewhere between one and two grams of protein per pound of lean body weight.

Protein quality must be mentioned to highlight the importance of leucine content because it encourages faster recovery via the mTOR pathway, stimulating muscle protein synthesis, which bolsters recovery. Leucine is an essential amino acid to this process, a lack of it will have a negative impact on recovery.

The importance of meeting baseline caloric demands is worth noting. High protein diets alone won’t suffice, there must be enough energy from complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, too. Rebuilding muscle tissue, cells and nerves while also fueling everyday processes is extremely energy intensive, making total calorie intake imperative to recovery.

2 Supplement wisely

The correct supplements underpin biological processes which encourage the body to heal after intense exercise. Muscle tissue is far better equipped to combat catabolism when fermented glutamine and BCAAs are present for support. Both ingredients should be naturally synthesized from plant extract to support the pathways for enhanced muscle recovery without inflammation.

I carry a gallon of water, adding both fermented glutamine and BCAAs to help reduce muscle soreness. To make it taste good, I add KAGED MUSCLE Hydra-Charge, a natural hydration support system which also happens to be naturally flavored.

Recovery and performance declines rapidly if you are even slightly dehydrated. This causes a decrease in stroke volume, which means the heart isn’t able to pump as much oxygenated blood around the body in one beat.

While training, hydrogen ions and lactic acid can attack muscle tissue aggressively. Proper hydration supports the delivery of nutrients to the cells for processing, allowing the body to remove any harmful by-products naturally produced from training.

3 Get quality sleep

Sleep is when the central nervous system enjoys a reprieve from the constant signaling required during the day while performing at peak levels. During intense exercise, the central nervous system conducts something known as spatial recruitment – a phenomenon which involves the activation of more motor units to achieve greater force. This is what all athletes seek when they are lifting a heavy weight or aiming to move very quickly. Ensure you’re getting enough high-quality sleep to promote central nervous system recovery, allowing peak performance to occur daily.

4 Fight inflammation

Vigorous exercise causes inflammation and post-workout muscle soreness and joint pain are signs of tissue inflammation. In the presence of inflammation, muscles cannot generate as much contractile force, nor do they possess the same fatigue-inhibiting properties. When inflammation is poorly managed, a reduction in performance will result.

Daily cold therapy helps mitigate myofascial inflammation by temporarily reducing blood flow into the area, managing any swelling which may occur. Regular visits to an infrared sauna can further suppress muscle tissue inflammation by removing tension. Simultaneously, the body will benefit from the removal of toxins in an infrared sauna which can also help with recovery, furthering future performance.

Specifically, gastric inflammation needs to be reduced to see an increase in performance. GI issues adversely affect nutrient assimilation, preventing the body from utilizing food efficiently. The aftermath is a loss in performance as the transfer of nutrients into usable energy becomes compromised. Avoiding allergens and having a comprehensive gut test done to identify foods your body doesn’t tolerate can help address this factor.

5 Prioritize hormone health

Addressing prolonged cortisol secretion is essential because in excessive amounts it will attack muscle tissue, cause gastric upset and distract the mind. Reducing and managing stress by taking time every day to let the mind and body relax will support your recovery and performance. Mediating cortisol, so it doesn’t catabolize testosterone, consuming enough healthy fats, sleeping correctly, and inhibiting estrogen will all be conducive to this outcome.

6 Analyze your training plan

Only once the previous components have been taken care of should you adjust your training plan.

One overlooked aspect is not tracking your workload. If you track your workload it allows you to analyze everything and performance-based programming requires incremental improvements, which means by definition it is entirely reliant upon knowing the numbers.

Track every set, weight used and the number of repetitions. Having the ability to visually reference your progress (or lack thereof) on paper will make it easier to address any stalls in progress.

The second consideration is not addressing your weaknesses. Performance enhancement generally begins with addressing the weakest link, which by default often facilitate improvements across all facets. So, if bench pressing is your weakness, developing overhead strength, long head triceps power, and scapula retraction will help it improve. Suddenly, your bench press improves, which then unlocks a new level of performance on other lifts as well. Your weakest link will hold you back until it is forced to become stronger.

EXPERT: Kris Gethin is a nutrition consultant, trainer and CEO of Kaged Muscle.