When you hear Esports you don’t tend to instantly think fitness right? The stereotypical view is that gaming and fitness are opposites that don’t attract or go together, and we can see why.
Esports essentially is turning gaming into a spectator sport and brings the experience of watching professional sporting into a digital sphere, with viewers watching video gamers compete against each other. Meaning that those who compete are now a new kind of Esports Athlete.
With the growing popularity of gaming, individuals like Esports athletes and gamers have a higher screen time, which is in turn associated with low levels of physical activity. This low level of activity can lead to a greater risk of health-related issues but that doesn’t have to be the case, incorporating fitness into your life as an Esports athlete can make you an overall better gamer.
Benefits of using fitness in Esports training
Last longer with more energy
Esports athletes will know that it takes a lot of energy and concentration to stay in top form for the number of hours required in both training and competitive gameplay. We all know how quick your reactions need to be in a fast-paced, high-pressure game. There are multiple things for an athlete to focus on, from weapon or equipment choices to individual and team, strategies. This long period of contraction is extremely demanding on your brain.
So where does fitness come in? If your body is struggling physically this will have a higher impact on your mental ability to push through demanding periods. Regular exercise with a variety of training methods both resistance and cardio can help keep your body and mind healthy. The increase in overall fitness helps you become more efficient and effective in all other aspects of your life, leading to higher energy levels and helping you even into a long gaming session, so throw out those energy drinks and hit the gym for the mental boost you need.
Healthy body, healthy mind and higher performance
Exercise in general is a great way to increase your mental health and wellbeing. Those who are more physically active tend to have better mental well-being, exercise and fitness help you to produce and regulate the chemical messages in your body (neurotransmitters) including those feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine.
The increase in these hormones leads to a better overall mood, and feeling good mentally and physically too, with this increase many esports athletes can see a significant increase in performance output. The physical and mental improvements can lead to better and faster decisions, a crucial skill for any serious gamer.
These effects take time but with a consistent fitness plan, Esports athletes can see improvements over time, not to mention some additional benefits such as better sleep and recovery
Manage stress better
When you’re in the depths of a game and the final moments are counting down, it can be a win-or-lose moment for you. As a serious athlete, you need to be able to keep calm in the face of your opponents.
We’ve all been there whether on a digital or physical sporting battlefield when your heart is racing, sweat is building, and you need to keep a cool head to make sure you’re still making good decisions and reacting at top form. Although this is fun, it is also stressful, and stress can have an extremely negative effect on the body if you aren’t able to manage it efficiently.
With stress comes the release of other neurotransmitters such as adrenaline, this amazing hormone is our fight or flight response. The benefits are great, but it can also be easy to allow the hormone to take control and let go of rational thought which can lead to the difference between a win or a loss.
Well, regular exercise can help you manage this stress response, known as the cross-stressor adaptation hypothesis, it means that regular exercise leads to adaptations in the body's stress response systems allowing you to cope more efficiently when under mental stress. Meaning better decisions and being more prepared to take the victory.
Exercises to help stay fit for Esports
You don’t have to go all in if you’re new to fitness, incorporating a mixture of cardiovascular, strength and mobility training can help keep you fitter and more ready for your next Esports competition.
Running - Cardio circuit
Start working on your cardiovascular fitness with this easy running circuit. It can be done on a treadmill or out on the road 1-2 times a week: grab your trainers and let’s get running.
- Warm up - Take 5-10 mins to stretch and start a small jog to warm up all your joints and muscles.
- Section 1 - Run for 5 minutes non-stop - depending on fitness level you want to be running at around a 5-6 PES*
- Section 2 - Walk for 5 minutes non-stop - depending on fitness level you want to be running at around a 2-3 PES*
Repeat this circuit for 3 rounds to reach 30 mins of exercise - you can increase or decrease the work time in order to progress or regress the workout. If you don’t enjoy running, why not try a bike?
Full body strength circuit
Strength work can benefit everyone - it will help with overall physical and mental fitness. Try this circuit 2-3 times a week.
- Warm up - Take 5-10 mins to stretch and jog or bike to warm up all your joints and muscles.
Complete the below circuit for 3 rounds, move from one exercise straight onto the next and rest 2-5 mins between circuits.
Squats with Dumbbells - 10-15 reps
- Hold the dumbbells by your side, keeping your head up, and back straight, and drive your bum back and down. Maintain tension throughout the movement.
- Continue to lower down until your hips are in line with your knees at 90 degrees. Hold at the bottom of the movement for 1-2 secs before driving through your feet into the floor to push yourself back up. Keep your core braced throughout, at the top hold for 1-2 secs and repeat.
Seated Shoulder press - 10-15 reps
- Sit on a bench (if needed use back support), Rack the dumbbells on your shoulders, one on each side. Brace your core and start by pushing the weights up towards the ceiling.
- Once your arms are fully extended above your head, hold for a second and then slowly return down. Try and stop when your elbows sit at 90 degrees.
Reverse lunges with Dumbbells - 10-15 reps
- Hold the dumbbells by your side. Start with your feet hip-width apart, chest upright, and start by bracing your core. Take a big step backwards with your right foot, and slowly lower yourself by bending your left knee towards the ground until your knee is parallel to the floor at 90°, making sure to bend the right knee until it is also bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Hold in the lowered position before driving back up by pressing through your front foot and returning to the starting position.
- As soon as you stand repeat with the other leg, and keep alternating between legs until you have completed all the reps
- Make sure to keep your core engaged and torso upright throughout.
Laying chest fly’s - 10-15 reps
- Lay down on your back on a bench, making sure your feet are flat on the floor. Pull your shoulder blades back and down and drive them into the bench. Drive the dumbbells up off your chest straight up above the chest.
- Start the movement by lower the dumbbells slightly wider than your mid-chest, slowly down until your arms are in line with your chest and then slowly return to start.
Plank hold - 30-60 secs
- Start on the floor chest down and press yourself up into a press-up position. Engage your core, by pulling your belly button to your spine and engaging your glutes.
- Hold this position for the entire time making sure not to drop your hips. If this irritates your wrists try lowering down onto your forearms.
Mobility is important, especially for Esports athletes. The amount of time spent sitting or in certain positions can impact your joints and muscles, and lead to injury. Try this quick mobility circuit a few times a week to help:
Repeat the circuit 2-3 times and hold each position for 5 secs.
Back to Heel stretch - 10 reps
- Kneel on all fours while trying to keep your back and neck straight but don't lock your elbows.
- Slowly move your bottom backwards to meet your heels.
- Hold and then return to the starting position.
Bridges - 10 reps
- Lay on your back with the heels of your feet by your bum, and arms on the floor by your side. Squeeze your core and engage your glutes.
- Driving through your feet lift your hips up and off the floor creating a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Keep squeezing your core and hold in this position before lowering back down.
Side to side head turns - 10 reps on each side
- Stand or sit with your back straight.
- Breathing slowly start by rotating your chin towards your right shoulder slowly and then slowly bringing your head back to the centre, before then rotating it to the left.
Neck rotations - 10 reps on each side
- Stand or sit with your back straight.
- Drop your chin down till it touches your chest, then slowly rotate your head round to the left, aiming to have your ear down to your shoulder.
- Then slowly rotate round to the right, keeping your chin tucked.
Wrist stretch - 10 seconds on each hand
- Stand or sit with your back straight and reach your arms out in front of you.
- Rotate your wrists up, down, and from side to side.
- Stretch your fingers apart, and then stretch them again before relaxing.
So how is fitness useful in Esports training?
Esports is a mentally demanding sport, and you need to be ready for anything. Fitness and exercise have a role to play in helping you in all aspects of Esports, as well as in your everyday life. Physical fitness helps your body to be stronger and fitter, as well as deal with the physiological stresses of Esports more efficiently and effectively.
Many of the best Esports athletes are now incorporating varied training programs to stay on top of their gaming. From rest and recovery to being able to push for longer and have more energy, to mental wellbeing the benefits of fitness to your gaming are somewhat endless.
Take home message
No matter your level of gaming it doesn’t mean you can bring fitness into your life and see improvements in both your physical and mental wellbeing. The overall benefits associated with fitness can be transferred into your Esports seeing you win more, react faster, and play harder so why not take your gaming to the next level?
*Perceived exertion scale - using a scale of 1-10. Level 1 is the very light intensity you can easily breath and talks to level 10 is the maximum intensity with heavy breathing and unable to hold a conversation.
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