Over the course of the next two weeks, new records will be posted in a variety of winter sports. These exciting feats of athletic prowess are often made possible by innovations in physical training.
Since the first recorded Olympics in 773 B.C., dedication to a physical regimen of diet, exercise and good health habits has been paramount. Like their ancestors, modern Olympic athletes train year-round for their events and begin at an early age. Even in ancient Greece, many had access to the services of a personal trainer who was generally a retired athlete. What have changed dramatically are the training techniques used today.
When reviewing the training regimens of winter Olympic athletes, three recurring patterns, in addition to their sport-specific workouts, are universal: cross training, resistance training and core training.
Cross training simply refers to training in different ways to improve overall performance. Skating, sledding and skiing participants cross train by cycling. They will do this on the road during the off-season and by using a stationary bike during winter months. A stationary bike is also a good way to warm up cold muscles immediately before an event.
Resistance training is primarily performed by lifting weights. Various workouts are based on a specific sport to determine which muscles need to be developed and whether they are being utilized for a distance or sprint event.
Core training involves building strength in muscles that stabilize the abdomen, pelvis and spine. Exercises can include the use of a medicine ball, a physio ball, dumbbells or something as simple as push-ups.
The winter Olympics will provide a lot of entertaining moments, but they should also serve as a lesson in good health practices and personal fitness.