How to train like an Olympian | Total Performance Physical Therapy

How to train like an Olympian

August 1, 2012

With the Olympics upon us people are flocking to try to capture the inner athlete in all of us.  Most people want to train like an Olympian, but what does that mean.  Do they all do the same thing?  The answer is both yes and no, there are inherent things that go across the board, general principles really but without adhering to these principles, it makes any workout a waste of time.

1.   Set goals.  I’m sure many of you roll your eyes or blow this statement off with a ‘yeah, yeah’.  Or some respond with a broad answer, ‘I just want to workout’.  That just won’t cut it.  Whether you training for the Olympics, going to put on a few pounds, or try to look good in that swim suit, you have to set goals and you have to work towards them.  This is the biggest downfall to most people’s workout program and it shouldn’t be.  Without goals we wind up losing focus.  We go to the gym to gain size, but instead of being focused and lifting an extremely challenging weight for just a few reps we wind up lifting an easier weight for multiple reps.  Our goal is to lose weight, we go and sit on the elitcal for an hour not really doing much of anything.  Without goals, you lose.

2.  Focus.  When you are in the gym to workout, focus on that.  Shut the work stuff, kid stuff, relationship stuff out and focus on the task at hand.  So many people are consumed with ‘going to the gym for an hour’.  Here’s the thing – you can go the gym for 20 minutes and if you are focused and have your goals you can accomplish more than what most people do in an hour.  Then you can leave and actually go deal with the work/home/relationship issues that you are focusing on.  But when you are working out or at the gym, do it, get it done and do it right.

3.  Stop if you feel pain.  Yes I know this sounds counterintuitive for the greatest athletes in the world.  The don’t stop, they push through.  However, this is a grave misconception.  What people don’t see is the entourage that goes along with the world’s most elite athletes.  They stop the minute they feel anything off and immediately consult with doctors, physical therapists and trainers.  The difference between them and us, is that those people are standing there waiting for them.  We have to make an appointment.  But they listen to their bodies.  They know how important it is for them to run at their peak.  They know that they can’t do that if they are injured.  People always tell me, after being injured and treated and understanding what is going on with them, that I have made them hypersensitive to their body.  They can tell when any little thing is off.  This to me is a great compliment.  Getting people to understand and listen to their bodies means that they will be able to stop problems before they grow into something debilitating, that will take them out of the game.

4.  Nutrition.  Here’s where we all need to use a little common sense.  While Olympic athletes are equipped with nutritionists to plan their meals and some have chefs to help them create their meals, we need to be our own nutritionists.  And this is as important as working out is.  We don’t need to worry about every little calorie, every little ounce but we need to make smart choices and you don’t need a degree in nutrition in order to do that.  FYI – Nutella top ingredients sugar, oil, cocoa, hazelnuts – it is not good for you, consider yourself warned.  This is for most foods. We don’t need to be obsessive, everyone knows that a salad is better than french fries, grilled chicken is better than fried chicken, etc.  Make the right choices and you will notice a change in your energy level and commitment to working out.

5.  Find your passion.  In many ways people have become drones, just ‘putting in’ time at the gym because that is what society has told them.  Find what you enjoy.  If you hate running, don’t run.  Running is not the magic exercise.  I can’t run on the treadmill.  Hate it with a great passion so I don’t.  Doesn’t mean I don’t work out.  I enjoy working out.  I enjoy my circuit routines, which depending on how I feel I can switch up on a daily basis.  Find what you enjoy.  If you are me, you have a short attention span so I do short burst workouts.  I can focus and push it for a minute, I can’t push if you tell me to do it for 30 minutes straight.  I was a sprinter for a reason.  There are so many forms of exercise, you need to find one that works for you.

I’m sure when you started to read this article you were hoping for exercises to make you look like Ryan Lochte or have the body of a female gymnast.  If you click here, it will take you to some ways to start actually training.  But without these basic principles, your workouts will fail and you will not train at all much less not like an Olympian.