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How To Train Like An Olympic Athlete

Originally Posted: July 24, 2012

Barbara Brenseke

Be the first one out of the blocks! (Photo: Stefan Schurr/istockphoto)

With the Summer Olympics taking place in London, there is no better time than NOW to learn how to train like an Olympic athlete. Whether you are an athlete or want to look like one you need to train like a superstar! Athletes don't just work out—they train for strength, speed, explosive power, coordination, quickness, and core strength.

Ever wonder how athletes stay in such great shape all year round? Aside from the fact that being fit is basically their job, they adhere to strict training regimens in both the on and off-seasons. But their total fitness isn't just a matter of hours logged in the gym—it's also a function of how they train. Olympic athletes know better than to just repetitively drill a single activity. Just because you specialize in the 1,000 meters doesn't mean you only run to train. In fact, any serious athletic endeavor involves training not only for strength and/or speed, but for explosive power, coordination, quickness, and core strength. Bring all of these focuses together in a single workout and you'll be training like an athlete.

Mix It Up!

A truly balanced and comprehensive athletic training session will not only target all major muscle groups, but will challenge them using different methods, all tackled at high intensities to really push out of an athlete's comfort zone. In a comprehensive athletic workout, look for a combination of the following major modalities:

1. Strength Training: The most standard kind of weight training, this simply means using resistance to build muscle mass.

2. Functional Training: Strength training often involves exercises and methods not found in nature; how often do you do a leg curl in real life? Functional training works the muscles used in daily life as they are used in daily life—in multiple planes of motion, rather than in the restricted fashion required by machines, and often multiple muscle groups at once. This involves work with stabilizer and core muscles in addition to major muscle groups.

3. Plyometric Training: It's not just what you do but how you do it that makes a difference in training. Plyometrics focus on quick, powerful, explosive movements to train both strength and the speed of nervous system reactions.

4. Core Training: You're only as strong as your core, the complex of muscles supporting your back and center. Core training focuses on strengthening these muscles, improving your base of support as the foundation for greater strength gains throughout the body.

5. Cardio Training: Get your heart rate up and keep it up to increase overall fitness. This doesn't only mean running on the treadmill. If you speed up your strength workouts, and use supersets where appropriate, you can elevate your heart rate, burn fat, and build strength all at once.

If you're currently living an exerciser lifestyle, you're ahead of the curve, but why not set your sights higher and train like an athlete? All it takes is making a decision- taking action, right now.

Barbara is the owner of Train For the Game in Bellmore. She is a strength and conditioning coach who works with athletes and people of all ages.

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