Thursday 16 August 2012

How to Look Like An Olympic Athlete Part 2

Last time, I gave 5 lessons that we can learn from Olympic athletes. If you missed part 1, check it out HERE.  Now, here is part 2...

6. Increase your total weekly training time
For Olympic athletes, training is a full-time job. While most of us already have full time jobs and families, we should do what we reasonably can to move more. This summer, I completed my Precision Nutrition certification. In it, they talked about the importance of increasing weekly physical activity time and how effective this is for physique transformation. Most people with great physiques are getting 5+ hours of physical activity (high and low intensity) per week. Forget the “3 minutes a day to great abs”.

7. Improve rest & recovery
At the elite level, most athletes understand the importance of rest and recovery. Better recovery = better results! Many Olympic athletes get 10-12 hours of sleep a night. Many are eating well over 5000 calories per day. Recovery sessions (e.g. light cardio) and recovery practices like massage are the norm.

Now, I know that you are saying, “I have a job!”, “I have kids”, there is no way I can get that much sleep or afford regular massage therapy. I know, I get it, I’m with you. However, the take-home message is that recovery is really important. If you are serious about your goals, you better be serious about recovery. The question to all of us is: are we taking the time and making the sacrifices to make our recovery better than it currently is? Here are some simple things you can work on:
  • Try to get at least 1-2 hours of sleep before midnight
  • Do some low intensity activity (e.g. brisk outdoor walking) to reduce stress and improve recovery
  • Do daily foam roller and mobility work
  • Get a massage when you can
  • Increase your intake of natural, whole foods
8. Get coaching
Behind virtually every great Olympic victor is a great coach. We all need and can benefit from a skilled, experienced training/nutrition coach. Let someone else worry about the program so you can focus on the application.

9. Ask for family support
Reaching goals is not a solo effort. As a parent, I get moved when I see the parents of Olympic athletes cheering and crying in the stands as they watch their son/daughter win a medal. Never underestimate the importance of family support in the pursuit of your goals. Once you have established your goals, sit down with your family and close friends and let them know what your goals are and talk about how they can support you and how you can support them with their goals.

10. Be patient
Thanks to all the silly fitness and weight loss ads, most people think that if they are not in shape by Tuesday, the program/diet stinks. Unfortunately, we have all been bombarded with advertising lies promising us that we can get in shape super fast if we buy this miracle program/piece of equipment/diet book. As a result, we to start believing that this is a realistic norm. Remember that every body you saw during the Olympic Games was the result of years (often decades) of hard training.

Olympic athletes have mastered delayed gratification. They have made tremendous sacrifices to achieve Olympic victory. Have the discipline and patience to stay with your training for the long-haul. Also, when you do reach your goal, don’t forget the celebration.

In conclusion:
We all come in different shapes and sizes. We all have to juggle training with other life responsibilities and ensure that we have our priorities straight. While you may never compete at the games, these tips will help on your way to looking and feeling more like an athlete!

Note for fitness professionals:
Check out my upcoming workshop: How to Look and Feel Like an Athlete.

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