Every couple of years, many of us are glued to our television sets to watch one of the most amazing examples of athletic prowess in the world: The Olympics. We will watch in awe as elite athletes perform seemingly impossible feats and wonder, how the heck do they do that? And, more important, how do they make it look so easy? Maybe it's too late for us to become Olympic athletes, but we can still get inspired by their incredible skill and commitment to reach our own goals. Find out how you can train like an Olympic athlete for weight loss and fitness.
Train Like an Olympian
Fortunately, training like an Olympian doesn't mean running 20 miles before breakfast or spending half your Saturday doing anaerobic sprints. However, even if you're not training for the Olympics, you can emulate the best athletes in the world to get the most out of your workouts:
- Train every day. Many people fall victim to the weekend warrior syndrome: after sitting on a couch all week, you try to make up for it by killing yourself with hours of exercise on the weekend. Instead of setting yourself up for injury, think like Olympic athletes who train every day in order to compete with the best. Exercising regularly not only helps you lose weight, you also maintain a level of conditioning that will keep you strong and fit. Exercising sporadically can cause injury, soreness and the urge to never exercise again.
- Keep your eyes on the prize. Olympic athletes have a specific goal; to compete with the best athletes in the world and win. Our goals may be smaller, but they're just as important in motivating to get us out of bed each day to exercise. When setting a goal, keep it simple, specific and, most importantly, reachable. Remind yourself every single day what your goal is and how you're going to achieve it.
- Be specific in your training. An Olympic marathon runner has to have incredible endurance and strength in order to complete a marathon. To compete, he will have to incorporate specific training such as long runs, speed work and strength training. Whatever your goal, make sure your training fits. If you're trying to build muscle, focus on heavy strength training and getting quality calories. If you're goal is to lose weight, break that goal down into the necessary steps you need to take to get there. What kind of workouts do you need to do? What about your diet? More about how much exercise you need to lose weight.
- Fuel your body for peak performance. We all worry about food and whether we're eating too much fat, or too many calories. An Olympian, however, worries about getting the right nutrients and calories to fuel the most important competition in her life. Instead of looking at food like its the enemy, turn your thinking around and ask yourself, what is the best thing I could eat right now for my workout? What kind of food will put my body at it's very best?
- Know when to rest. Olympians walk a fine line between peak performance and burnout and they know when to throw in a few extra recovery days. Overtraining for an Olympian can mean the difference between winning and losing; for the rest of us it means the difference between a great day and a crappy one. Know the signs of overtraining and when to take a break.
- Have perfect form. Have you ever seen Carl Lewis run? He ran like a thoroughbred with long, loose strides and a tall body. In whatever activity you do, make sure your form is perfect. If you're running, stand tall and relax your upper body. If you're lifting weights, do each exercise slowly to reduce momentum and don't swing your weights. Having perfect form requires you to focus on what your body is doing, rather than trying to distract yourself from the pain.
Whatever you're training for, thinking like an Olympian can help you get the most out of each and every workout. When you find yourself losing momentum or motivation, just remind yourself how much discipline it takes for an athlete to make it to the Olympics. Just a fraction of that discipline can help keep you going every day.