An Olympian Workout for the Everyday Man
Four years ago, more than 219.4 million Americans tuned in to watch the Summer Olympics in London, making it the most-watched event in U.S. TV history, according to Nielsen. And with so much debate swirling around this year’s Summer Olympics, more athletes might be tuning in to watch with the rest of America instead of competing.
Whether they’re on the screen or at home, it’s safe to say Olympians are some of the most in-shape people in the world, but Randy Turner, manager of the Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth Fitness Center, wants you to know you don’t have to be an Olympic contender to train like one. In fact, it’s pretty easy to incorporate these athletes’ exercise routines into your own.
“Start including squats in your routines,” Turner said. “Every athlete does them and they work the total lower body.”
Turner suggests beginners start off slow by performing body squats where you use just your bodyweight to lower into a deep squat then return to a standing position. More experienced exercisers can add weight to their squat with dumbbells to increase the difficulty.
Need something a little lighter on your joints? Turner suggests taking up swimming.
“Swimming is a good exercise also,” Turner said. “It keeps your heart rate up, builds endurance and allows you to exercise by taking weight off of your joints. Work your largest muscles in your body like your legs and you will burn more calories.”
If after watching the Olympics you usually feel a little more motivated to get active, you’re not alone. Turner said the fitness center sees a slight increase in memberships or some inactive members getting back into the gym once the Games are over, but the key is to keep that motivation up for an extended period of time.
“People get excited and motivated but lose the enthusiasm after a few days or weeks because of muscle soreness, kids, work, etc.,” Turner said. “We give everyone a complimentary personal training session and we try to introduce them to other members and encourage them to attend our aerobics classes. The more active we get them and offer them support then the more likely they are to continue.”
Sure, staying motivated is easier said than done, but Turner said even professional athletes get in a rut. The trick is to still workout even when you don’t feel like it and setting realistic goals. Keep in mind the athletes you’re seeing on TV have been training several hours a day and dieting for years.
“You need to ease in to exercise,” Turner said. “You are not trying to relive your glory days. You are not going to see results overnight. But there are still important exercise principles you can learn from. Schedule a time and do it. The athletes you see on TV work out even when they do not feel like it. There are days you are going to feel the same way. Schedule a time and do it.”
Don’t let an injury derail you either. Anyone who exercises long enough will probably deal with common sports injuries like shin splints and sprained ankles, and that includes Olympians.
“Do not let this stop you. A lot of the time it is because you are doing the exercise wrong, wearing the wrong kind of shoe, not resting your body long enough in between workouts, etc.,” Turner said. “This is another good reason why it is important to get with a trainer and get set up on a workout specific to your needs and wants.”
We identified some of the most watched sports during the Summer Olympics and broke them down into a workout plan just about anyone can do.
Want strong, toned legs and arms with a fit midsection like a gymnast, swimmer or volleyball player? Incorporate these moves into your workout.
Squats. Squatting strengthens the overall body, even though it is categorized as a “leg day” exercise. The movement engages your shoulders, back, abs, glutes, hamstrings, adductors, lower back and quadriceps.
Bench press or pushups. The bench press and pushups strengthen the chest, shoulders and triceps.
Planks. The plank exercise helps strengthen the midsection and inner core muscles that support your joints.
Pullups or lat pull machine. Performing pullups or lat pulls work your back muscles and biceps.
Lunges. Lunges target most, if not all, of the muscles in your lower body. In addition to improving strength, lunges also improve flexibility in your hip flexors, which helps your body maintain alignment and reduces your risk of back pain and injury.
These five exercises will give you a total body workout, and every Olympic athlete performs them.
Don’t know where to start but want to get active? You’re in luck, because during the Olympics, the Fort Worth Fitness Center will be waiving the enrollment fee and offering two free personal training sessions to ensure everyone gets off on the right foot.
“Most of the Olympic Games you see on TV you can do too,” Turner said. “Just remember, take it easy in the beginning, gradually increase your intensity level and have fun. Get outside and enjoy the weather or when it gets hot come in to our fitness center.”