WebMD Feature Archive
10 tips for an Olympic body
Experts share the diet and exercise secrets of Olympic athletes.
Muscled legs, backs, abs, and arms - sure signs of a body carefully sculpted for power, speed and endurance.
However, what does it take to get that Olympic body? And could Mr or Ms Average ever hope to look like an Olympic athlete?
The answer is that you can, if you are willing to invest time in it.
Of course, few people have the kind of time that Olympic athletes devote to their training. However, even if your best "event" revolves around the remote control, all is not lost.
So if you're ready to shape up, here are some tips from the professionals to get you started.
1. Know your body type.
Some of us are built for speed, some for endurance. Finding out what feels natural, and what you're best at, will help you determine which type of exercise will work for you.
Do you like to jump? Sprint? Spend time on the treadmill? Everyone has a unique body composition, and which composition of muscle fibre type you have will determine whether you will have more endurance or speed and power.
Sam Callan, an exercise physiologist who works with USA Cycling, says that all the training in the world can only change you a little bit, hence the reason why Arnold Schwarzenegger probably couldn't have been a long-distance runner.
2. Determine your goals.
You're bound to be better at some kinds of physical events than others, so choose one or two that feel natural and that you enjoy. You'll be much more likely to stick with it, and see success.
Do you want to slim down? Focus on nutrition and a routine of steady cardiovascular endurance exercise, with short bursts of speed called interval training. Do you want to build up your cardiovascular endurance? Try swimming, running or cycling. If it's speed you're after, try adding sprints to your routine. If you only have a short time to work out, try circuit training, which consists of a series of resistance training exercises performed one after the other, with minimal rest.
However, if you have weak areas, don't hesitate to address them with specific training.
3. Eat healthily
Three-time Olympic gold winning swimmer Brooke Bennett says that diet should be the first focus for anyone hoping to improve physical well-being.
"Nutrition is key in anybody's life, whether we're professional athletes or working at a desk", she says. "It's about 80% of our lifestyle".
She believes that content, not calories, should be the focus for any "Olympic body" plan. Besides the obvious - fruit, vegetables, lean proteins and slow carbohydrates like brown rice and sweet potatoes - she also recommends watching the sugar content of the foods you eat. Sugar has a high-calorie count but it's metabolised quickly, so if you're not burning the sugars while working out, you're going to put on weight.