Train Like an Olympian

Train Like An Olympian - Set a Goal and Make a Plan

Work with a Coach
Work with a Coach. Rana Faure/Getty Images

Nearly all Olympic athletes design their workout plan using S.M.A.R.T. goals, a simple technique that provides structure for short- and- long-term training goals.

Part of this goal-setting approach is to establish a realistic and measurable goal, design a workout schedule that will meet that goal and stick with that schedule. All the while you will track your progress and modify your plan as needed.

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Train Like An Olympian - Build a Foundation of Fitness

Build Fitness
Build Fitness. Adam Gault/Getty Images

Depending upon what your current fitness level is, it can take as long as six weeks to build a solid fitness base. This period involves slowly building endurance, strength, flexibility and cardiovascular conditioning. Start your training program with slow, steady aerobic sessions and light weight lifting. If you don't know the Principles of Exercise Science, this is a good time to brush up.

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Train Like An Olympian - Eat Right - Sports Nutrition Advice for Athletes

Sports Nutrition
Sports Nutrition. Ross Land/Getty Images

Olympic athletes know how to eat and drink for sports performance and recovery. It can be a complicated process and many athletes work with nutritionists and coaches to find the perfect balance of calories and nutrients that work best for them. Even the most complicated food plans, though, share these sports nutrition basics.

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Train Like An Olympian - Perfect Your Sports Technique

Sports Skills Drills
Sports Skills Drills. Drew Kelly/Getty Image

It's important to build a solid base of fitness before progressing to the next level of training. What comes after basic training, though? Olympic athletes have a plan for going from general fitness to competition-level fitness. This is the time to work on sports-specific skills, efficiency and power, without losing general conditioning. Learn the four important steps to build upon base fitness and get ready for competition.

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Train Like An Olympian - Build Strength

Build Strength
Build Strength. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Building strength and power for your sport can provide the extra boost you need to set a new personal best. Strength training as little as three times a week is enough to build power and mass. A well-planned routine of as little as five strength exercises can be all you need.

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Train Like An Olympian - Rest and Recover the Right Way

Stretch After Exercise
Stretch After Exercise. Graham Mitchell/Getty Images

Olympic athletes never underestimate the value of rest and recovery in order to achieve peak performance. Stretching, massage, sleep and general downtime are often used by Olympic athletes to recover from their demanding workouts.

Overtraining can easily occur in athletes who train frequently and at high intensity. It's important to watch for the signs of overtraining and listen to your body when it is calling for rest.

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Train Like An Olympian - Peak for Big Events

Peaking for Races
Peaking for Races. Sami Sarkis/Getty Images

Olympic athletes time their training and rest to coincide with the Olympic games. They use the term peaking to describe being in the absolute best condition (physical, emotional and mental) at a specific time for an event or race. You can use that same principle to get ready for your major event or competition as well. Although peaking is not easy to do and requires experience and planning, there are simple steps you can take to make peaking much more likely.

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Train Like An Olympian - Get a Coach or Trainer

Get a Coach
Get a Coach. John Howard/Getty Images

Nearly all Olympic athletes work with a coach or trainer. It's a partnership that allows the athlete to focus on training and competition while the coach handles the workout details, schedules and "to-do" lists. This is exactly what your coach or personal trainer should do for you. The benefits of hiring an expert to help you reach your goals are immeasurable and you don't need to be an Olympian to reap the rewards of this relationship.

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Train Like An Olympian - Mix It Up in the Off Season

Cross Training
Cross Training. Tim Barnett/Getty Images

You may not realize that Olympic athletes change their program during the off-season to rest more, train less and participate in sports other than the one in which they compete. Why?

When you do the same thing day after day you get very good at it. You may also become physically and mentally stale, bored and prone to injury or burnout. If you always do the same type of workout, you may eventually hit a plateau and fail to see any additional improvement. Olympic athletes use the off-season to mix it up and modify their workouts every few weeks or months. They often choose sports very different from the one in which they compete and change the intensity of exercise and the amount of rest between workouts.

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Train Like An Olympian - Develop Your Mental Game

Mental Preparation
Mental Preparation. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

More and more Olympic athletes are turning to the power of the mind to give them a competitive edge.

In the past, a handful of athletes would use mental rehearsal and meditation before competition. Today it's the norm, and research continues to support the idea that it may be possible to improve sports performance and even speed up healing by using specific mental skills and techniques, including imagery and self-hypnosis.

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