Fitness

Train Like An Olympian With These 7 Tips

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There have already been some really memorable moments from the 2016 Summer Olympics. Like the French Gymnast that broke his leg (have you watched the video? It’s pretty gnarly). USA winning over 40 medals so far, Michael Phelps leading his 4×100 relay team to victory, which resulted in him receiving his 19th gold medal (and since then has received even more). Kirsten Armstrong winning her third consecutive gold a day before turning 43. And so much more.

These people make sprinting while simultaneously jumping over hurdles, double backbends, synchronized dives, snatching hundreds of pounds, 90 mph tennis serves, rowing, etc look almost effortless. And there I am, watching in awe of the talent they possess. They are motivating, and inspire many to push themselves to new limits.

Athletes go through rigorous training to get to the level they are at today. Many professional athletes have been perfecting their sport since they were just a wee one. While some are naturally gifted athletes, there is one thing that rings true: consistent practice is necessary to become a pro in their sport. Just like all other things, practice makes permanent. Consistency is key to get to the level they are at today.

While you may not ever get to the level of an olympic athlete, you can benefit from learning about how Olympians train. The discipline and programming can help you in all aspects of your life: to fight, to push yourself past limits, to believe in yourself, to show up, and to be disciplined.

With the Olympics in full swing, we figured that this was the perfect time to look at how Olympians train to compete in their events, and what tips and tricks you can take from them.

How to Train Like an Olympian

1. Find a workout you love:

Professional athletes work out hard, and they work out often. But they are able to motivate themselves to get into the gym and put in work because they love what they do. They want to work to be the best that they can be, so they put in the time.

Try new exercises, classes, fitness challenges or sports that excite you so that you are able to motivate yourself to get to the gym more. You will also be more committed to train when you love what you are doing.

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2. Set a goal and make a plan:

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Many athletes plan their training schedules a year to four years in advance to make it possible to reach their performance goals. Everything they do is results-driven, and once they set a goal, they will work on what they will need to do to reach it.
Say an Olympian wants to set a goal to medal. They will then break that goal down into different processes. They will plan out tasks and time periods and work on smaller goals along the way, until it’s time for them to compete for gold.
Setting and working on goals is a great way to create accountability and propel you forward. Breaking down large goals into smaller, more attainable goals is also a great way to make an insurmountable mountain look more like nice rolling hills.

3. Try Different Training Methods:

Some Olympians go to extremes to make sure that their bodies and minds are ready to compete, and so that they can gain an edge over their competitors. Here are some methods competitive athletes swear by:

CROSS-TRAINing

Too much repetition isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes you need to switch things up to see better results and so that you don’t get too bored. Varying workouts is important because you will work different muscle groups, and will help you to reach a higher level of fitness. Cross-training will also help to prevent injury.

TRAIN TOGETHER

Training in a group is a great way to create competition and encourage you to keep on going. Training with others helps to keep you motivated, and push you to work harder.
Find a friend to work out with, go to a class, work out with a trainer, or watch motivational workout videos, and you may notice that you are more inclined to keep on going, and work out harder.

High Altitude Training

Many athletes, especially endurance athletes, look to train at high altitudes. This type of training forces the body to adapt to the lack of oxygen by increasing the mass of red blood cells and hemoglobin. When training at a high altitude, your body will have to work harder to run, lift, or jump. So when you return to sea level, you will have more endurance, due to an increased mass of red blood cells.

4. EAT RIGHT:

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Food is fuel. Athletes must be careful about what they choose to eat, as food can either fuel their bodies or slow them down. Athletes get a good breakfast in, and eat very frequently. Most eat five or six smaller meals a day. They also drink a lot of water and consume a lot of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, organic dairy, and consume healthy fats.
Athlete or not, fueling your body with nutritious food is important to maintain a healthy weight, reduce risk of disease, and to promote better health.

5. Mental Preparation:

Attitude is key. You may be a really skilled athlete, but if the pressure gets to you, you may choke. Many athletes work with sports psychologists so that they are able to handle the stress that comes along with competing. They may also have personal routines to work on their mind game leading up to competition.
Mental training isn’t only important for olympic athletes. Getting through the last mile of a grueling run, completing those last few reps, getting up in the morning and getting to the gym, and eating healthier, all take some mental prep. As you train your mind and convince yourself that you can do something, as you work to believe in yourself, find confidence in your abilities, overcome obstacles, and handle adversity, you too can find that you have the mental strength of an athlete.

6. Quality Sleep:

Many athletes know just how important a good night’s sleep is to perform at their best. Experts say it might even be the most important thing to do to boost athletic performance. Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night but an athlete may need even more. Because they are pushing their bodies so hard, they will need more time to recover.
Less sleep increases the possibility of fatigue, poor focus, and low energy during game time. The quality and quantity of sleep obtained could be the difference between winning and losing.
Athletes rely on sleep to perform at their best. Usain Bolt, the most decorated sprinter of all time, said, “Sleep is extremely important to me. I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body.”

7. PROPER RECOVERY:

If you have watched any of the swimming events at this year’s Olympics, you might have seen large circular bruises on athletes backs, shoulders, arms, and legs. And by now you probably already know that many athletes have been “cupping” which will result in these bruises.
Professional athletes know just how important proper recovery is so that they can perform at their best. This practice will help to increase blood flow to the affected area and can help to relax their muscles to accelerate recovery. But this practice can be beneficial to all, even if you are not an athlete. Cupping is also believed to draw toxins from the body, and stimulate circulation and the immune system.
Other forms of recovery include:

  • Sleep
  • Stretching
  • Massages
  • Nutrition
  • Active Recovery
  • Icing
  • Drinking Plenty of Water

The Takeaway

Okay, so most of us won’t be competing in the Olympics. But regardless of that fact, in order to get good at anything and see results: consistency is still important. In order to reach our health and fitness goals it is important to consistently train and eat good, nourishing foods. To get good at our jobs: we must study, read, practice, and learn. In order to get good grades on an exam: we need to study. You get the point, right? Practice, practice, practice.
Consistency is key. If you learn to adopt some of these techniques you may find that you are more motivated to reach your fitness goals, that you have more energy, focus, and strength, and that all around you are happier and healthier.

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