The Vancouver Winter Olympic Games are but a distant memory for most of us. But for the athletes dreaming of a chance to compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympic games, the prepration and training has just begun. Here are some tips for the weekend warriors on how to apply Olympic training priciples to ever-day work outs.
Three words come to mind when describing what it takes to become an Olympic athlete, specifically, an olympic gymnast, Fearlessness , Passion and Dedication. Many young girls fall in love with the sport and enjoy training but very few have the natural talent and drive to make it to the Olympic level. It's not only the fact that Olympians are born with a certain set of physiological gifts, although that's a big part of it. It's also their commitment to their sports and the way they train. Many Olympic gymnasts such as Shannon Miller started training at the age of six. They train six days a week, from four to seven hours a day. It's common for athletes to invest four to eight years training before making an Olympic team.
How do Olympic gymnasts train? During the first hour of every practice, they go through conditioning drills such as running, punching, squats, jumps and flips. Then they do exercises for specific parts of the body such as the midsection (crunches, knee-ups on hanging bars) and upper body work (lot's of handstands)
Tips for the every-day-person:
You do not need loads of equipment to train. The gymnastic coaches come up with hours and hours of different things using just the body weight to develop a strong gymnast. To develop balance gymnasts practice the calf raise (go up on your toes and then come back down flat on your feet) tones the calves and strengthens the core. Have you ever run barefoot? Gymnasts do it all the time (indoors of coarse). They also run on the balls of their feet, lift their knees and sometimes run backward. These variations look silly, but they build strong calves, quads and hamstrings. In conclusion Olympic gymnastic training includes tons of stretching, aerobics, strengthening and conditioning.
In addition to their training routines many Olympic Athletes meet with a "team", usually including a nutritionist, exercise physiologist, and sports medicine specialist to discuss their strengths and weaknesses and accordingly tweak their diets, overloading and recovery techniques. Also, Olympic athletes need to get plenty of sleep, which is one of their main recovery techniques.
Now we know a bit about how Olympic gymnasts train but what does it really take to become an Olympic athlete? Olympians get there by Sticking It Out. A lot of people try and give up. Many of us make New Years resolutions to get in shape and for this reason gym memberships swell after the holidays. A month later those same zealous newcomers are nowhere to be found.
Olympic Recipe for Success
Believing in Yourself and not giving up is crucial. There is a great quote at the beginning of the book My Child, My Hero, written by Claudia Miller, Olympic champion Shannon Miller's mother. In the book she describes in detail all the years of hard work and dedication that preceded that moment of Olympic glory: " If you believe in yourself, have dedication and pride and never quit, you'll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards!"
Having Courage and Tenacity to push beyond self imposed limitations. Many Olympic athletes stay mentally tough and focused by practicing visualization techniques to deal with the stress of competing. Prior to a competition they visualize step by step what they want to do and how they want to carry out the contest. This kind of mental training helps them deal with the often over whelming atmosphere surrounding them. We can also use visualization to achieve our goals by seeing ourselves successfully sticking to our workout routines and imagining that the results have already been achieved. By visualizing our success we increase the chance of achieving our fitness goals.
Be Consistent: If you do a lot of training and then stop you will not get the same effect. Making sure you are committed to a schedule is going to be the biggest part of success, whether it's training to be an Olympic gymnast or training yourself to stay in shape.
Published On: March 16, 2010