Watching the world’s elite athletes compete in the Olympics can be inspiring. And even though they make it look easy, the talent, athletic ability, and passion of the competitors is a rare combination. However, there are ways to incorporate the Olympians’ training regimes into your own exercise routine, says Chris Sebelski, assistant professor of physical therapy and athletic training at Saint Louis University. Here’s five ways you can work out like a world-class athlete:
1. Set realistic goals. “Olympians train four years for one moment,” Sebelski explains. “We tend to say general statements about how we’re going to get in shape, but those aren’t very concrete goals, which makes it difficult to commit.” Set small goals for yourself for a realistic training program, like creating an exercising schedule for the week.
2. Enlist others. Even though athletes compete on their own, most have a team of nutritionists, personal trainers, and coaches helping them along the way. “It takes a village to create an Olympic athlete, and I think we forget that,” says Sebelski. Find other people to help you meet your goals, whether it’s someone you can work out with, or someone to help keep you accountable.
3. Be self-aware. It’s easy to make excuses about why you’re not following through with your exercise routine, especially with other responsibilities in your life, but Sebelski says it’s critical to think about the excuses you’re making. “Olympians have to be completely dedicated to their sport, which can be hard. A lot of people say they don’t have time to exercise, but then they spend an hour or two in front of the television. It’s difficult to stick to a routine, but owning up to the mistakes you’re making can help you meet your goals.
4. Have a back-up plan. There are circumstances when even Olympic athletes can’t carry out their normal routine, but that doesn’t mean they abandon it altogether. With the extreme cold temperatures this winter, it’s understandable to want to stay inside and hibernate, but that’s not an excuse for abandoning exercise, Sebelski says. “If your normal exercise routine is to walk outside for 45 minutes a day, that’s obviously not an option when it’s freezing outside. Instead of giving up, create a back-up plan for days when your normal exercise routine isn’t feasible. In this case, you can walk up and down the stairs or go, walk around the mall, or follow an exercise video.”
5. Embrace an Olympic attitude. Being an Olympic athlete takes not only athletic ability, but also a strong sense of passion and determination. “You have to commit your time, energy, and focus to meet your goals,” explains Sebelski. “It takes strength and discipline to say no to distracters and temptations, but we can draw inspiration from the Olympic athletes to focus and commit to our plans.”