By: Martin Ebner
Ever wondered how Olympians train in order to reach their peak physical performance? With so much pressure riding on each and every athlete taking part at this years Rio Olympic games, finding the perfect training plan is essential and could be the difference between simply taking part and winning the gold.
Now, you may not be aiming to break any world records this summer, but that doesn't mean we can't all benefit from some of the secrets of Olympic training.
1 – Warm up and cool down
Your warm up and cool down should be just as important as the central portion of your workout.
How to warm up:
Dynamic warm-ups such as lunging, skipping, plank and rotational exercises are great for coordination, flexibility and injury prevention.
Use a combination of stretching and flexibility exercises, foam rolling and massage (If you can afford it). By having a cool down following a tough workout session, muscle pain will be reduced and your body will be less likely to tense up in the hours / days to follow.
2 - Train dynamically
Think - Run, jump, hop, throw, spin and twist. Instead of using fixed pieces of equipment where the balance aspect of the exercise is taken care of for you, use medicine and swiss balls, Kettlebells, incorporate rotational, diagonal and unilateral (1 sided) exercises into your workouts. There exercises will help you physically prepare for whatever physical challenges are thrown at you.
3 - Lift heavy
There’s an old misconception that lifting heavy makes you slow. In actual fact, it’s quite the opposite. By lifting heavy you gain mass strength, and strength = speed and power. Aim for 1-3 “big lifts” per week (think squats, bench press and deadlift). 3-4 sets of 2-5 repetitions should do the trick!
4 - Hire a coach / Personal trainer
All athletes have at least one coach. Coaches help structure workouts, offer motivation and accountability.
Research shows that by having a certified professional by your side, you can drastically help improve results.
5 – Hit the bars, Not the alcoholic serving kind
There’s a reason that Urban calisthenics is gaining in popularity. Pull-ups, muscle-ups and dips are all fantastic exercises for building a strong upper body. By using these 3 exercises, you can build explosive strength, improve posture and speed up your metabolism.
6 – Train with a buddy
All athletes train as part of a team. At the end of the day, the olympics are as much a competition amongst countries as it is athletes. Training with a friend, partner or as part of a group can offer motivation, accountability, healthy levels of competition and most importantly, FUN!
7 – Exercise in the am
If you’re the sort of person that post 9-5 prefers a refreshing pint over a treadmill, it's time to rise and squat. If athletes can do it, so can you! By training early in the day, there’s less distraction and the physical activity early on leaves you feeling energised throughout the entire day. You can also have that pint after work guilt free! It's win win.
8 – Hydration
Did you know that being dehydrated by just 10% can drastically impact sports performance? To avoid this, Consume 500ml of liquid per 1 hour of exercise and consume a sports-drink to replenish electrolytes.
9 – Sleep
For olympic-level performance, a good nights sleep is absolutely essential - not just for athletic performance but for good health too. Sleep Is something that many of us overlook, relying on just 5-6 hours a night.
The best way to get a good nights sleep is to set a routine and stick to it. Get into bed before midnight and set your alarm for the same time each day. Avoid caffeine after 5pm and try de-stressing by reading a book or meditating in the 30 minutes leading up to lights-out.
10 - Mental Preparation
You think you are stressed at work? You cannot even begin to imagine the amount of pressure placed on these young athletes to perform at the highest level. Envision training for 4 years for a 10 second race. I think you get the picture!
We can all benefit from better mental preparation. Try visualising yourself succeeding at something you feel passionately about, read inspirational stories of success, find a quote that applies to you and put it above you bed or work space.
There you have it, fellow health enthusiasts. With these 10 techniques, you can improve your physical performance and get you one step closer to reaching your fitness goals.
Stay tuned for our next article - How to eat like an olympian