Alternative Methods for Traditional Sports
One question we often receive is how popular are alternative methods in sports, and the answer is it really depends on the sport. Sports that are now deeply rooted in science typically are more accepting of alternative methods, provided they are backed by quantitative evidence. For example, given the popularity of running and cycling, gaining an edge often relies on nutrition, training structure, and optimal recovery times.
On the other hand, maybe you are participating in a more traditional sport. By this we mean sports that have extensive history and are somewhat “stuck” in tradition (rather than traditional meaning popular). In this article I will refer often to boxing as a traditional sport, mainly because that is what I have more personal experience with.
Boxing as a Traditional Sport
A few years ago I decided to supplement my running training with something way different, just to mix things up. I didn’t want something COMPLETELY different, for example powerlifting, but instead something that would complement running quite nicely, and vice versa. I was definitely able to achieve this with boxing. At first I had a membership at a gym, but since then I have picked out a pair of my own boxing gloves and a couple odds and ends I can use at home, like a jump rope.
The first thing I noticed when I started boxing was how crazy of a workout it is. I was already in good shape from running, so that definitely helped, but two days later I could barely move my arms. However, I’ll save the description of the workouts for a different article. One of the next things I noticed was how old-school the gym was. I’ve seen newer ones that are more modern and function more as a fitness gym, but this strictly-boxing club was definitely dated. It didn’t make a difference, except for the fact that this was also apparent in the training regime.
Regarding nutrition, one of the first things the head trainer told me when I started, which he would tell everyone, was “Eat a well-balanced diet, but no potato chips, coffee, or white bread. As much as I agree that these food items aren’t healthy (except I love coffee), it left me wondering why only these items. The trainer had trouble explaining why this was the case, and understandably so, as he isn’t a nutritionist. Simply put, he said that seems to help see the results that they want to see. I guess I can’t argue with that. Here is some help with nutrition for sports performance.
Then, I would try to chat with others, especially the competitive fighters, to see how they structured their own training and diet regimes. They echoed the same observation that I did, in that there isn’t much of a push to advance the science in boxing, at least on a level accessible for all boxers. They mentioned anything they learned about alternative medicine came from the high-profile boxers who are signed to blockbuster matches. To my surprise, a lot of these fighters actually are very interested in alternative methods for training and have taken it upon themselves to learn more.
Take Timothy Bradley for instance. Although not necessarily an alternative method in some other sports, Bradley switches to a vegan diet when training for fight, which is definitely unorthodox in the boxing world. Given how grueling boxing can be, this may come as a surprise to many, but Bradley actually self-reports consistently higher energy levels, he finds it less difficult to make weight, and in general has seen a boost to his performance. He has even had vegan smoothies named after him at various smoothie bars.
In terms of the gym that I was part of, many of the recreational and competitive boxers alike had starting trying acupuncture to help recover from both acute and chronic injuries. Most had success and have incorporated into their training regime. However, like I said previously, this was at their own discretion and was not recommended by any of their trainers.
If you are an athlete in a sport that exhibits traditional characteristics, like boxing for example, you may want to consider spending some time browsing information about alternative methods for training and recovery, as well as diet. We acknowledge that this isn’t always suitable for everyone, but you never know what beneficial information you can stumble upon when thinking outside the box, or in this case, thinking outside the generally accepted ideologies within that particular sport.