While not everyone aims to be a part of the Olympic games, there is no reason why some of the training principles cannot apply to most people’s exercise approach and program.
The first and most important takeaway from Olympic athletes is their mindset. The mindset of any Olympic athletes is such that they strive to be the “best” they can be. It may not be possible to be the best in the world at something, however it is still possible to strive to maximise YOUR own potential and aim to achieve YOUR best possible health.
Training in cycles
When it comes to exercise training, athletes structure their program in cycles. This is done for a number of reasons. Firstly it allows the body to continue to develop and progress – whether it be our strength, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness or balance. All of these attributes need variation to continue to improve. Without this variation, the body (and our progress) tends to plateau as our body feels it has the necessary capabilities to deal with the constant level of stress it has been exposed to.
Secondly altering your program into cycles of different exercises and intensities allows the body to recover appropriately. When we exercise, we often develop slight damage to the tissues which then requires the body to start healing and build upon existing strength of these tissues to withstand future stress. Each tissue in our body has a threshold. When this threshold is reached excessive or repeated stress can cause significant damage leading to injury. Regular changes allow us to avoid taking the body beyond this threshold, thereby reducing the risk of injury.
The final important takeaway from Olympic training programs is the importance of nutrition! Olympic athletes realise that their bodies are a temple, and as such they need to foster their greatest asset by ensuring that they stay well hydrated and eat nutrient rich foods. It is certainly true when they say that we are what we eat. It is important to eat a variety of seasonal fruit and vegetables, and where possible reduce the amount of processed foods we consume. This is complemented by ensuring that you have enough water throughout the day. While it may seem like alot, most people require somewhere between 1.5-2.5L of water everyday for healthy body function.
So while you are watching the Olympics and admiring the incredible talent and skill that the athletes competing display, think about your own journey to become the best that you can and how you can implement some of their training methods to help you along that journey.