Over the next few weeks, the world will be captivated by the talent, skill, and mental toughness of Olympic athletes, as they compete in the XXIV Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. While most Olympic athletes have trained their entire lives to reach seemingly unattainable goals, recreational athletes can gain inspiration and learn from their habits.

Here are just a few tips on how to train like an elite athlete and get the most from your workout:

Set a Specific Goal

Olympic athletes set specific goals, often measured by milliseconds. Simply saying you want to lose weight or increase muscle mass is not good enough. A better, more specific goal would be to reach a set BMI, lose a specific number of pounds, or increase biceps or calf capacity by a specific measurement.

Focus on Fundamentals and Form

Elite athletes first focus on the fundamentals. Without proper conditioning and form, impressive feats of athleticism can lead to serious injury. Make sure you are following regimented training conditioning and using proper form.

Set a Fitness Benchmark and Consistently Test Yourself

Once you set your specific goal and begin working toward it, benchmark your progress with some type of test. Depending on your goal, this could be a 5K run, lifting a certain amount of weight, completing a certain number of reps, or even sprinting up a steep hill. This will serve as a marker to measure progress and is often the best motivator! It will also help show if your training regime is working.

Allow Time for Recovery

Even the bodies of Olympic athletes require time for recovery. Overtraining can mean the difference between winning and losing and often leads to injury, so listen to your body and begin to understand when it needs a recovery day (or even two)!

Take a Long-term Approach

Achieving fitness goals is not an overnight activity, it requires long-term dedication. Olympic athletes often look years ahead when setting their goals. Make sure your January fitness resolutions don’t fizzle out by February. Maintain a long-term outlook and pace yourself so you stay motivated.

Authored by Zach Meeker, Research Assistant for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center

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