Brilliant Workout Tips to Steal from Olympians
"Most of my training is HIIT (high-intensity interval training). It's the best way to burn fat, increase endurance, and build strength. I think it makes a huge difference, especially in my sport. We do a lot of high-speed running for short periods of time then rest before we have to go again."
— Paige Selenski, field hockey
"A game-changing tip that I have is that when you are doing intervals or racing, no matter what hurts, or how much it hurts, you can always keep going and keep pushing. If you stop, you will recover in five, 10, maybe 15 minutes, and then you we will realize that you could have kept on pushing. That you could have finished that last set on schedule, that you could have made it all the way up the hill, that you could have run that last mile."
— Allison Jones, para skiing and para cycling
Make It a Ritual
"When I first started boxing when I was 11, I was very skinny. I didn't really have a lot of muscle. My dad started having me do elevated push-ups with my feet up on the stairs and my hands on the floor, every night before bed. He wouldn't let me go to sleep until I did them! Now I do 15 before bed every night (and that doesn't count the 125 I do every day at the gym). Sometimes I'm laying there and can't go to sleep and it's because I didn't do my push-ups. It's just a habit that I have now." (Related: 13 Different Ways to Amp up Your Push-Up)
—Claressa Shields, boxing
Stick to Circuits
"I really like doing circuits, so if you pick three or four exercises, do one set of each exercise one right after the other and then, after a short break, go back to the first one again. Do the circuit three to five times depending on the intensity you're looking for. I've also changed my cardio to intervals, so instead of running at a constant pace for 20 minutes, I will run at a fast pace for a minute and walk for 30 seconds and repeat for 20 minutes. Or just go for straight sprints with recovery in between, you can also apply this to cardio on the bike, stair master, or rower." Here are 7 Reasons to Try Interval Training Now.
—April Ross, beach volleyball
Don't Skimp on Sleep
"For me it's all about sleep. When you're really tired or have had a late night and decide you're going to go to the gym anyway and lift weights, that's when you can really run into problems. When you're at your weakest your positioning could be off and you can end up with back aches and other injuries. So you really have to sleep well."
—Paige McPherson, taekwondo
Up the Intensity
"You need to incorporate intensity into your workouts if you want to make jumps in fitness. But the good thing about high intensity is that it doesn't need to be long! Along the way, in my training, I've always incorporated sprints and intervals but I'm realizing more and more that sets of 30 seconds of intensity with rest in between can be effective, you don't need to go hard for hours."
— Jenny Simpson, track and field
Start Your Day with a Good Choice
"The biggest thing for me is getting up and starting the day on a good note—having a good breakfast and going on a 30-minute run. (Or you can go for a 30-minute walk instead!) Starting your day with a good choice makes it so much easier to make better choices for the rest of the day because I feel good and want to continue to feel good. If I skip breakfast, it always sets me off on the wrong foot, and I notice a huge difference. Sometimes if I don't have time, I'll just grab a Special K bar because it's so easy and healthy and gives me energy."
—Julie Johnston, soccer
"I think what helps me the most in my training is the recovery part. I would die without it. My recovery sometimes involving icing anything I need to ice down, and definitely Epsom salt baths are my lifesaver. And sometimes just rolling out and wearing my NormaTec boots. They're like compression boots and help to flush out my legs and replenish them. If I don't use them, it's OK, but I always feel better when I do."
—Simone Biles, gymnastics
Get a Leg Up
"A crucial training component for me is the legs conditioning and doing jumping moves—we'll do kicks backwards, and box jumps and squats with a medicine ball against the wall."
—Aly Raisman, gymnastics
Pump the Iron
"One random, but crucial tip that's been a game changer for me is iron supplementation. I listened to my body and for a period of a time, I was feeling really tired. I took a ferritin test and my numbers were low and luckily I caught it in time before something serious could have happened like anemia, which could have easily ended my season. I started taking liquid iron twice a day with orange juice and a crushed chewable vitamin C tablet and my ferritin levels started to gradually go up and I got back on track with training. I also noticed that my migraines completely went away. For anyone that is training, iron is definitely one of the most important supplements to staying healthy!"
— Brenda Martinez, track and field
"The best training tip I can give to real women is to do a lot of "blasts" during your workout. I think when you start to lean out and perform your best is when you train your heart rate. Anyone can run 5 miles at 10-minute pace, but this does nothing but keep your heart rate at a steady beat. If you can run three miles with a lot of sprints and hills taking a minute rest in between, you will elevate your heart rate and get much more out of your workout by torching more calories. Plus, it makes the time go by faster!"
—Elizabeth Beisel, swimming
Take a Lap
The hardest part about working out consistently is the consistent part. Everyone has hard days where you're drained, injured, or just unmotivated so my training tip is to take a lap. Walk for at least 30 minutes after you eat lunch or right when you get home from work. It's an easy way to keep your whole body moving and it also gives you time to reflect on all of the amazing things going on in your life."
—Amy Cozad, diving
Hold a Plank
"If I'm having a day off, or just watching TV and hanging out, I love doing planks. I think a lot of people underestimate what a plank can do. Even holding it for one minute out of the day is huge, especially for me as a swimmer since we always have to have our lower body up in the water. If a minute is hard, start at 30 seconds, and slowly build your way up to two minutes! That's one of my favorite things to do. If I don't do them, I notice my posture isn't as good." (Get started with our 30-Day Plank Challenge!)
—Jessica Long, para swimming
Make a Protein Smoothie
"In the past year, I started adding in a smoothie before my workouts to help give me energy for my training. For me, I don't really like vegetables that much, so it's a good way for me to get them in. And then I'll add fruit and then a little bit of Chobani Greek yogurt for the protein. If it's a day I'm lifting or breaking down a lot of muscle I'll make one after my workout too."
—Morgan Brian, soccer
Lie to Yourself
"A change I made prior to the Olympic qualifying season that I think really helped me the most was changing my thought process and coming from a positive place every time. It might not be physical, but feeding myself positive energy at practice and pre-competition really helps my performance for the better. I tell myself, 'I feel really good, I slept well, I had a great breakfast'—even if I have really bad jet lag and I haven't slept and I had a terrible breakfast."
—Ibtihaj Muhammad, fencing
Focus on Form
"I think everyone can benefit from agility and for me footwork stuff like ladders has helped my game so much. Also just really focusing on your form doing the exercises is so important. That helps me out on the field, because even if you aren't the fastest person on the field, if you have good form, you can get that extra step in front of someone."
—Ali Krieger, soccer