Fitness Secrets of Olympic Athletes
10 tips for training like a world-class athlete
With the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games now less than a year away, there’s no doubt that Olympic-hopefuls are in the midst of extensive and arduous training programs to ensure they are in top shape to compete in the Games’ 26 sports. While Olympic competitors are the pinnacle of athletic perfection, there are several “secrets” of Olympic training that can boost any fitness program, no matter the level. American Council on Exercise spokesperson Todd Durkin offers up 10 tips for training like an Olympic athlete:
Diet and Hydration: For Olympic-level performance and off-the-chart energy, you must eat properly including eating a breakfast of complex carbohydrates and lean protein, then eat again every 3-4 hours and within 90 minutes of working out. Consume half your bodyweight in fluid ounces of pure water and if exercising intensely or for long duration, consume a sports-drink such as Gatorade.
Sleep is absolutely essential: High-level athletes that are training hard need 8-10 hours sleep. Focus on quality of sleep by going to bed before 11 p.m. for optimal hormonal release don’t use a computer or watch TV within 30 minutes of sleeping to avoid affects of electromagnetic waves and make your sleeping environment as dark as possible.
Proper warm-up and recovery: After 10 minutes of a light jog or jump rope session, spend 10-15 minutes on dynamic warm-ups such as skipping or reverse lunges to (improve flexibility, coordination, rhythm and naturally prevent injuries from occurring). After your workout, incorporate recovery techniques like foam rolling, massage and stretching/flexibility exercises to ensure the body remains limber and reduce pain or soreness.
Mental Preparation: Olympic athletes spend a great deal of time psychologically preparing for the big day. Some ways to do this include: rehearse, read inspirational books and quotes, rehearse mantras and most importantly they have a plan that contributes to their success. No matter what the fitness goal is, these techniques can help get you there.
Hire a coach: Great athletes have coaches. People that want significant changes need help with game-planning, motivation, or accountability and a certified professional can dramatically help increase results.
Use an assortment of dynamic exercises: Instead of only using fixed-pieces of equipment, try medicine balls or Swiss Balls and integrate diagonal and rotational actions as well as unilateral exercises. Run. Jump. Throw.
Lift heavy: In order to be great, you must challenge yourself to attain maximum strength gains. Attempt 2-3 sets of a “big” lift of 4-6 reps once a week. In addition to getting strong, lifting heavy will maximize hormonal response.
Pull Up Power: Pull Ups work your large back muscles to help with running speed, improved posture and increased metabolism because the back is made up of large muscles. There are several methods to improve or build up to a correct Pull Up including using a Super Band, having a partner assist you and using a rowing machine.
Train early in the day: Olympic athletes do it. So can you. You are much less likely to get distractions early in the morning that will prevent you from your workout and you will feel great all day.
Train with a partner or in a group: Olympic athletes are known to train together for years before they turn to competing against each other on the big day. Accountability is a big part of success and when you train with a friend, spouse, or even in a small-group fitness class, your adherence to exercise goes up. Not to mention it helps pick up the intensity on those days where you feel you have less than your best.