If you’ve been watching the Olympics lately, you’ve seen some pretty amazing bodies. So how do they do it? Here are six Olympics training tips to get you fit fast:
#1: Build a base: Before you launch into your training program, give yourself 4–8 weeks to lay down the foundations of endurance, strength, flexibility, balance and cardiovascular conditioning. So that you don’t get injured and you can stick with it, begin by understanding common muscle imbalances and how to fix them.
#2: Eat well: Olympians don’t all eat the same thing, but every diet plan is characterized by two things:
- Being aware of what you're eating (preferably through writing it down, or at least by avoiding mindless eating)
- Eating foods that supply lots of nutrients, vitamins and minerals per calorie (for example, whole raw fruit versus concentrated fruit juice).
#3: Technique: Movement efficiency comes from the thousands of hours of practice that Olympians put into their specific sports skills. By repeating movements over and over again, your body can learn how to perform a skill with laser-like efficiency. For your specific sport (like running a 5K, completing a triathlon or moving to the next level in tennis or golf), include at least one or two sessions per week. Focus not on fitness, but on drills and skills — such as running form drills, practicing your serve or visiting the driving range.
#4: Periodize: “Periodization” is the term given to the method of varying workouts so that you can be in the best physical, emotional and mental condition when it really matters. Olympic athletes precisely time their training and recovery to coincide with a peak in their fitness — when they reach the Olympics. If you want to run a fall marathon, work on your strength and muscle balance during the winter, work on your basic endurance during the spring, work on your speed and intensity during the summer, and finally, give yourself a period of rest for the final 2–3 weeks before your event. You wouldn’t do the same workouts all year.
#5: Cross-train: Cross-training means you are including several forms of exercise into your fitness routine that take you outside your comfort zone or work muscles that aren’t being worked during your normal routine. This may include extras such as yoga, running, cycling, swimming or weight training. Not only does cross-training help Olympians to minimize injury, but it can also reduce the injury risks associated with overtraining. Cross-training also helps to keep you from getting bored from doing the same workout or sport over and over again, and offers you a way to condition new muscle groups or develop new skills.
#6: Recover: For an Olympic athlete, the workout doesn’t stop when the last mile, swing, shot, set or rep is completed. Immediately after a workout comes the recovery phase, or a period of time during which an athlete can enhance the body’s ability to bounce back quickly by using strategies such as a good cool-down, ice baths, foam rolling, massage therapy, stretching and a host of other recovery strategies. This allows the body to return to another hard workout as soon as possible.