With the Olympics coming soon to Tokyo in 2020, there’s no doubt that a good amount of training and work are put into place for the athletes competing. Although most of us won’t be professionally competing in the Olympics, there are a few things we can learn from the world’s top athletes on achieving amazing results and how they put forward their best in competition.
So whether you are looking to get active or searching for inspiration from an Olympic-style training programme, incorporating some of the below tips into your training can help optimise your workouts for better results, physically and mentally.
So how will an Olympian’s training strategy benefit me?
These strategies include improving core strength, flexibility, fat burning, building lean muscles and increasing bone density. As a result, following these tips can improve your overall lifestyle and physical fitness.
Olympic athletes spend an enormous amount of time training to reach their peak physical condition. Not only that, they also have a team of elite coaches, nutritionists, doctors and scientists behind them to help. Each training programme adopted by Olympic athletes, therefore, consists of scientifically-backed strategies helping them achieve gold, silver and bronze at the Games.
We’re not saying that you should go to extreme lengths to reap the Olympic benefits, but instead, consider some of these tips as even for non-athletes, adopting these strategies can gain similar performance benefits.
5 takeaways from an Olympic-style training
Here are some key tips you can take from an Olympic-style training programme, helping you to enhance your overall health, performance and wellness.
#1. Don’t just focus on one training aspect
If you’re training for a specific cause like running a marathon, it would make sense to primarily focus on the goal of running. However, professional athletes follow a mix of different exercise types to help keep their body well-rounded and strong.
Incorporating some other form of exercise in addition to your main regime can help build up your body to work more efficiently, perform better and be stronger.
#2. Actively prevent injuries
For professional athletes, injury prevention is the most important aspect to consider in their programme as an unlucky injury can deny an opportunity in a prestigious event.
Injuries are more likely to happen when you undergo rigorous training. However, incorporating the right warm-ups and stretches can drastically reduce the chances of injury. Most warm ups consist of cardiovascular exercises and stretches to help the body prepare for movement.
Furthermore, injuries can also be caused by using the equipment incorrectly. If possible, you should work with your coach or a professional to help you use the equipment correctly and safely.
Lastly, it’s important to keep yourself hydrated to help prevent muscle spasms (which can result in injuries). When in doubt, always listen to your body and try not to over-train as it can do more harm than good.
#3. Pay special attention to your diet & nutrition
Whatever athletic training style you follow, it’s important to fuel your body appropriately. As different sports have different energy requirements, it is important to make sure that you’re consuming enough calories in order to fuel your training programme.
While it is possible to roughly estimate your energy requirement with a fitness tracker, the best way to optimise your diet with your workout is to consult a dietitian, who can give you professional advice based on your individual circumstances and training regime.
#4. Make sure you rest & recover
Although many believe that Olympians may train round the clock, that’s far from the truth. Resting is an important training strategy to help your body recover from training. It helps your body muscles, bones and connective tissues to rebuild and recoup from the stress of training.
Some of the most effective recovery plans for athletes include sleep, massage, stretching and hydrotherapy.
Lauren Gibbs, who is part of the USA Women’s National Bobsled Team, uses some of these recovery tools and techniques:
- Using foam rollers, lacrosse balls & compression boots
- Cold tub & hot tub
- Soft tissue work (massaging soft tissues)
- Dry needling to ease muscular pain
- Pilates & stretching
- Relaxation techniques & sleep study
#5. Don’t forget your mental health
The truth is Olympic-style training can be both physically and mentally exhausting. In fact, mental health disorders can affect up to 35% of athletes at some stage in their career. If you aren’t achieving your goals as fast as you’d like, it can be very demotivating and mentally tolling. This is why you need to pay special attention to your mental health.
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has recently opened up about his struggles with mental health. In an interview, he stated that after every Olympic game, he believed he fell into a major state of depression and anxiety. Fortunately, the Olympic committee has begun to recognise the impact of mental health and started to introduce programmes to help handle, detect and support athletes in this aspect.
If you are feeling demotivated or even depressed as a result of your training, we recommend following these tips to deal with the stress.
How OT&P can help
No matter what training regime you chose, incorporating some of these aspects (even just a little) into your exercise routine can help optimise your performance. Just be cautious that you are not overdoing it and exhausting yourself. Always listen to your body and stop if you need to.
If you’re looking for well-rounded advice to help with your training, please feel free to get in touch.
AT OT&P Healthcare, we have a dedicated sports medicine clinic to help patients by offering a range of sports advice and counselling. We also offer sports-related guidance for performance enhancement, injury prevention and training, as well as other considerations such as diet, functional medicine and mental wellness.