With the Olympics in full swing I am finding it hard to get anything done other than cheer on all of the amazing athletes competing for Olympic gold. I thought I would use this inspiration to share with you some Olympic-inspired workouts that you can add into your current fitness regime. Try one or try them all, bringing to each movement the energy and determination shown by all of the Olympic athletes.
This week’s exercises are inspired by my favourite Olympic sports so far which are cycling, gymnastics, beach volleyball, rugby 7s, soccer, and swimming.
Cycling relies heavily on cardiovascular fitness and incredible leg power. One of my favourite exercise sequences to train exactly that is a step-up/reverse lunge followed immediately by an explosive step up.
Start with your left foot up on a bench and your right foot flat on the floor, with a dumbbell in each hand (this is optional as you can opt for using body weight only). Drive your right knee up by powering through your left then place your right foot back onto the ground and step back with your left foot into a reverse lunge. Repeat this same movement 20 times then drop the weights (if you were holding them), place your left foot back onto the bench and powerfully drive your right knee up as you jump your left foot off the bench. Repeat for 45 seconds and your legs, and heart, will be screaming. Rest for a few seconds and then repeat on the other side.
You can’t be a gymnast without a rock solid core so here is one of my favourite Pilates ab blasts that is bound to wake up those deep core muscles.
Start with your knees bent, feet on the floor, and your hands behind your head. Curl your upper body up by sliding your ribs down the front of your body and drawing your abs in towards your spine, without flattening your back (imagine there is a small grape between your back and the ground and you are trying not to squish it). Repeat this 10 times then hold the crunch while you twist your body, trying to bring your right rib to your left hip and then your left rib to your right hip. Repeat this 10 times.
Next, grab your left knee and pull it in towards your chest, curling your toes to your knee and lifting your right leg straight off the floor (you still are not squishing the grape). Keep your abs curled and your body still as you switch from holding your right leg to your left leg. Repeat 10 each on side before straightening your left leg and grabbing it as close to your calf as you can. Switch your legs 10 times, like they are a pair of scissors 10 times.
Release your legs, bend them to 90 degrees and reach your arms towards the ceiling while lying flat on your back. Take a breath in, then on the exhale, curl your body up so you are sitting on the backside of your sit-bones and extend your legs straight while reaching your arms towards your toes. Keep your legs still and lower and lift your upper body 5 times then keep your upper body still while lowering your legs up and down 5 times. If this hasn’t sent your abs into total spasm then lower and lift both your lower and upper body and the same time.
Beach Volleyball, Rugby 7s and Soccer
All three of these sports rely heavily on speed, power and agility and here are three of my favourite exercises to combine to train all three of these disciplines.
Start with your hands on the floor in a high plank position. Do 20 mountain climbers then a burpee finished with a jump, raising your hands up towards the ceiling (as if you are a blocking volleyball player). Shuffle two steps to the right, do 20 more mountain climbers, a burpee and then two shuffles to the left. Repeat this sequence for 60 seconds and repeat 2-5 times with a 15-30 second break between sets.
I am sure I am not the only one who stares in awe at the incredible V-shaped bodies of both the male and female swimmers. Here are a few of my favourite exercises to work towards a strong and toned back.
Grab a dumbbell and come into a high plank, placing the dumbbell below the center of your chest. Grab it with your right hand, row it to your rib cage before rotating and pressing the weight towards the ceiling as you twist into a side plank. Return to the starting position, release the weight while reaching your left hand and right leg off the floor. Repeat this movement on the same side for a total of 60 seconds.
Next grab an exercise band, looping it around something so you can have one handle in each hand. Pull the cable with your right hand towards your hip then switch and pull your left hand back. Repeat this for 60 seconds.
Do the first set again, on the left side, then finish back at the cable but pulling both handles to the hips at the same time, again for another 60 seconds.
Have fun with these sets and while doing them, tap into your inner Olympic athlete!