When it comes to fitness, there’s working out, and then there’s training. Working out is what we do to stay fit, strong, healthy, and release those endorphins. Training, on the other hand, is a way of exercising that serves to gradually prepare you for a performance goal. 

“If you train with purpose and have the intent and integrity behind your workout, you’ll gain so much more from one session."

  • Emily Batty, Canadian cross-country mountain biker and Olympian 

Every couple of years, the world watches as the most seasoned professional athletes take the stage, competing on behalf of their country. Watching them in action is so inspiring! Olympians are certainly born with talent, but their commitment to training is what brings them to the height of their achievements. Our goals may not be as lofty, but having the mindset of an Olympian can make all the difference in your progress and ultimate success. 

If you want to push your health and fitness limits, here are 6 tips to help you train like an Olympian. 

1. Set a specific goal

The goal will act as your driving force, so it should be as specific as you can make it. Remember it’s not just about the physical, but also how you’ll feel once you’ve accomplished it. Take the time to write down the steps you’ll take to get there. For example, you may want to compete in a fun run on a specific day, beating your record from last year by a certain amount of time. Setting measurable goals will help you prove to yourself that you’ve made progress, which will lead to feelings of pride and capability. 

2. Start with a benchmark

Olympians are all about progress, and in order to figure out where you want to be, it’s important to know where you’ve startedAn overall fitness test or something more specific to your goal can help you understand your current fitness levels. Perhaps you can run 2km, and would like to be up to 5km in a month. Or you can lift a certain amount of weight and would like to increase it by five pounds in six weeksPush yourself a little more each day and test yourself along the way.

3. Train with a focus

Olympians train every day in some format (remember recovery and studying your craft is training too), and always with an outcome in mindMake sure what you’re doing aligns with the desired result. If it’s a run, building up endurance and strength in your legs is key. If it’s muscle building, focus on strength training and quality sources of protein in your diet. Consider each of your fitness choices one step closer to your goal. 

4. Fuel for maximum performance

An Olympian is always aware of the importance of getting the right nutrients to fuel their body for peak performance. A diet rich in high quality sources of carbs, proteins and fats, plus plenty of water, will allow your body achieve maximum results when it comes to performance. And with the advice of a medical professional, you may want to fill in the gaps with supplements, as wellThink about the kinds of foods that will help get your body into its best condition. 

5. Know when to take a break

Because Olympians train hard, burnout is always a risk they run (pun intended!). They are experts at listening to their body and knowing when it’s time to rest. Overtraining can do more harm than good. It can lead to injury, and may even mean the difference between achieving your goal or missing it completely. Understand the signs of overtraining and listen to your body when it’s time to take a break. You’ll be better off for it. 

6. Be aware of your form

To avoid injury and optimize on performance, you must have flawless form. You may even consider working with a personal trainer or fitness professional to have someone observe and adjust your movements as you train. Proper form requires you to understand how your body should be aligned and what muscles to use (and when) to execute a move for maximum strength and efficiency.  

Whatever your fitness goals, embracing the mindset of an Olympian will help you make the most out of your workouts and perhaps give you a healthier outlook on fueling and caring for your body. If motivation begins to wane, think about the hard work and discipline it takes for Olympians to do what they do. Although you may not win a medal for your training, that kind of commitment and consistency can help you win big results.