If you’ve been living under a rock, you may not have noticed that in this month the pinnacle of sporting achievement, which comes around just once every four years, the Olympics, is on again.
This year it is being held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and though records date back to 776 BC, it is widely accepted that the Olympic Games started many centuries before that. The 2016 Games will contest 28 sports in total, and the UK finished third overall in the last Games, London 2012, with a total of 29 gold medals.
This is by far the most successful time for Great Britain at the Olympic games since before 2000, going as far back as the London 1908 Games where we won 56 gold medals.
Besides their fantastic achievements on the world stage, Olympians are as human as you or I. Everyone is different and environmental factors play a large part in how honed our talents become, but we can still learn untold amounts from these sports stars, even without the funding and work capacity.
In fact, the benefits of scientifically proven training ideas are now well-utilised in training studios all over the world, proving that whoever you are and whatever you do, you can benefit from proper, research based training methods.
So how can you further your fitness goals and make use of what some of these great British success stories live by? The Active Lifestyle gathered a few thoughts from the best to find out…
Sir Chris Hoy: “You knew that every day counted and that the medals were not won on the night, but in the years beforehand.”
The man who won six Olympic gold medals reminds us all that besides race day on the world’s biggest stage, those medals were won behind closed doors, away from the eyes of the public. The key point being made here is consistency. Without all the training, eating, and preparation day in and day out, the spectacular wins on the day could not have happened. Dogmatic training sentiments such as Sir Chris’ were first echoed by the great Muhammad Ali who spoke of similar things over 30 years ago.
Another tremendously important factor when it comes to training hard and getting results is simply looking after yourself and that means training correctly. Jenny Meadows, who finished sixth in the Beijing 2008 800 metres, (and who is a world and European championship winner) proclaims that “if you don’t warm up, you’re more likely to injure yourself.”
The importance of a proper warm up should never be understated, and the more used to training you are, the more value you should place on your warm up. If you are a more trained individual then it is likely that you can achieve faster and harder muscle contractions, so with no warm up, your risk of injury is greatly increased.
A gold medal winner in the 400 metres at Beijing 2008, Christine Ohuruogu knows the importance of planning. Her coach Lloyd Cowan said: “In order to get maximum benefits, it is important to plan training into your daily routine, some people like to exercise in the morning, some in the evening – find out what works best for you.”
So, what days or times work best for you when it comes to training? There is no point in committing to four sessions every week in the evenings, when it actually turns out that the best time for you to train is in the morning, and at best you can manage one or two sessions. Setting your expectations correctly allows you to have a plan, enjoy it and stick to it.
An often overlooked part of many people’s raining regime is the mental side, or the non-physical side. “You have to approach the challenges you set yourself with a positive attitude and a belief in your abilities,” says gymnast Louie Smith.
The reasoning behind this is simple, but many people find it easy to forget, and it affects not only your health and training, but also your overall life outlook. If you don’t believe you can do something, you probably can’t. If you believe you can, well that’s half the battle to actually completing it!
The final tip comes from Debbie Flood, a silver medal winner in the quadruple scull at The Beijing Olympics in 2008. “Not everybody wants to do as much training as an Olympian but EVERYONE is capable of getting fitter and achieving in sport!” she said.
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re at or where you want to be. By focusing on yourself, your health and your improvement, you can improve. It’s that simple.
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