How to Train Like an Olympic Athlete and Get Results

Get inspired to reach your fitness goals

Volleyball player spiking the ball
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Every couple of years, many of us are glued to our television sets to watch one of the most amazing examples of athletic prowess in the world: The Olympics.

And it's no wonder. These elite athletes are so fit, they make everything look easy. Just watching a gymnast do a backflip or an ice skater fly through the air might make you think, hey, maybe I could do that!

Except the reality is that unless you're a professional elite athlete, attempting these impressive feats of athleticism could lead to injury without proper training and conditioning.

There's one thing we can do: We can get inspired by their incredible skill and commitment to reach our own fitness goals.

Find out how you can train like an Olympic athlete for weight loss and fitness.

Train Like an Olympian

Fortunately, training like an Olympian doesn't mean running 20 miles before breakfast or spending half your Saturday doing anaerobic sprints. However, even if you're not training for the Olympics, you can emulate the best athletes in the world to get the most out of your workouts:

Train Every Day

Many people fall victim to the weekend warrior syndrome: after sitting on a couch after a long day of work all week, you may try to make up for it by overexerting yourself with hours of exercise on the weekend. Instead of setting yourself up for injury, think like Olympic athletes who train every day in order to compete with the best.

Exercising regularly not only helps you lose weight, you also maintain a level of conditioning that will keep you strong and fit. It also helps your body become more efficient at burning fat.

Keep Your Focus on Your Goal

Olympic athletes have a specific goal; to compete with the best athletes in the world and win. Our goals may be smaller, but they're just as important in motivating to get us out of bed each day to exercise. When setting a goal, keep it simple, specific and, most importantly, reachable. Remind yourself every single day what your goal is and how you're going to achieve it.

Be Specific in Your Training

An Olympic marathon runner has to have incredible endurance and strength in order to complete a marathon. To compete, they will have to incorporate specific training such as long runs, speed work, and strength training. Whatever your goal, make sure your training fits. If you're trying to build muscle, focus on heavy strength training and getting quality calories. If your goal is to lose weight, break that goal down into the necessary steps you need to take to get there. What kind of workouts do you need to do? What about your diet?

Fuel Your Body for Peak Performance

We often concern ourselves about the food we eat and whether we're eating too much fat or too many calories. An Olympian, however, worries about getting the right nutrients and calories to fuel the most important competition in their life. Instead of looking at food like its the enemy, turn your thinking around and ask yourself, what is the best thing I could eat right now for my workout? What kind of food will put my body at its very best?

Know When to Rest

Olympians walk a fine line between peak performance and burnout and they know when to throw in a few extra recovery days. Overtraining for an Olympian can mean the difference between winning and losing; for the rest of us, it means the difference between a great day and a crappy one—which can also lead to injury. Know the signs of overtraining and when to take a break.

Have the Perfect Form

Have you ever seen Carl Lewis run? He perfected his sprinting technique with long strides and a tall torso that seemed to barely move. In whatever activity you do, make sure your practice good form. If you're distance running, hold your head high, relax your face and upper body, use a natural arm swing, and avoid overstriding. If you're lifting weights, do each exercise slowly to reduce momentum and don't swing your weights.

Having good form requires you to focus on what your body is doing, rather than trying to distract yourself from the pain.

A Word From Verywell

Whatever you're training for, thinking like an Olympian can help you get the most out of each and every workout. When you find yourself losing momentum or motivation, just remind yourself how much discipline it takes for an athlete to make it to the Olympics. Just a fraction of that discipline can help keep you going every day.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."