Wednesday 15 August 2012

How to Look Like an Olympic Athlete Part 1

Once again, we have finished another summer Olympics. In addition to the awe-inspiring performances, many people are equally impressed with the physiques of our Olympic heroes. Since the close of the London 2012 games, I have been reflecting on what training lessons we all can learn from these incredible athletes.

1. Be goal driven
This is an obvious, but important one. Olympic athletes have a very specific goal in mind – win a gold medal. That goal drives them to each brutal training session, dictates their lifestyle choices, determines their nutrition selections and influences every decision they make. Please don't just workout. Have specific, measurable, goals with a deadline. Once the goal is set, let that determine your actions in and out of the gym.

2. Be results orientated
Olympic athletes evaluate their training not on how the workout felt, but on the results it produced. It doesn’t matter how good the program looks on paper, what matters is the results on the score board. Whatever your goal is, have be sure to measure your progress regularly and adjusting training as necessary.

3. Understand genetics
At this level, every athlete is a genetic specimen. However, genetics do not give you a great athletic body, but rather the potential to have one. No one at this level is there just because they have great genetics, but rather because they worked extremely hard and had the necessary resources to actualize their genetic potential.

When approaching the topic of genetics, it is important to have a healthy balance. We must not use genetics as an excuse not to train and eat properly. Every healthy individual can gain muscle, lose fat and improve his/her performance. However, it is also important to realize that there are some things that we can’t change about our bodies (e.g. bone structure, natural somatotype, muscle length, height, etc). Some people will naturally be better at certain events than others and that is one of the beauties of the Olympics is that there are so many events that everyone can find something suited to their body type. Athletes come in all shapes and sizes and they do not all look the same. Click HERE for an excellent blog article on athletic body diversity.

The take-home lessons are: quit trying to have someone else’s body, accept what you cannot change, change what you realistically can (without harming your health), find what you are good at and suited to, find what you enjoy and focus on developing your body to its potential. (Note: most people are far below their genetic potential). Click HERE for more info on genetics or learn more about my upcoming workshop Train Right for Your Body Type.

4. Train for performance
Most people exercise for a beach body, not a high-performance body. However, when the Olympics are on, we see the toned, defined athletic body that most people want. How do these athletes get such great bodies? They train for performance. When you train for performance and eat well, aesthetic improvements are thrown in as a natural by product.

If you want to look and feel like an athlete, quite training like most people in main-stream fitness do. Forget about feeling the burn, isolating muscles, being sore the next day, getting a good sweat on, using the latest fitness fad and the feeling of a “good workout”. Get a training log and focus on improving your performance from one training session to the next.

5. Use the best exercises

At this level, athletes are forced to use the very best exercises to produce the best possible results. Most athletes use predominantly basic exercises (e.g. squats, deadlifts, Olympic-style weightlifting variations, plyometrics and advanced bodyweight exercises). Watch most Olympic athletes train and you won’t see the latest “functional” training equipment that you find in most fitness stores these days.  Click HERE for more info on selecting the best exercises.

Stay tuned for part 2...

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