While I should without problems fill a ebook with the exact education protocols worried in every of the Winter Olympics sports activities, there are a few fundamentals that you could incorporate into your very own personal Olympic education push. As you’ll find out, in spite of the distinctiveness of those sports (bobsleighing, absolutely everyone?) the guidance and schooling often appears all too familiar.
The individual sports that are included at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang are basically the same as previous years, at least during my lifetime. In fact, the list of sports has not changed at all since the Skeleton event was added back in 2002.
There are 15 sports in the Winter Olympics, prepared into three essential categories: Ice Sports, Alpine (skiing and snowboarding events), and Nordic Events. In every of the types there are the subsequent particular activities.
- Bobsleigh (Two-man, Two-woman, and Four-man)
- Luge (Men’s singles, Women’s singles, Doubles, Team relay)
- Skeleton (Women’s and Men’s)
- Ice Hockey (Women’s and Men’s)
- Figure Skating (Individual men, Individual Women, Ice Dancing, Pairs)
- Speed Skating (Women’s and Men’s: 500 metres, 1000 metres, 1500 metres, 5000 metres, 10000 metres, Mass start, Team pursuit)
- Short Track Speed Skating (Women’s and Men’s: 500 metres, 1000 metres, 1500 metres, 5000 metres)
- Curling (Women’s and Men’s)
- Alpine Skiing (Women’s and Men’s: Downhill, Super G, Giant slalom, Slalom, Super Combined, team event)
- Freestyle Skiing (Women’s and Men’s: Aerials, Halfpipe, Moguls, Slopestyle, Ski cross)
- Snowboarding (Men’s and Women’s: Parallel giant slalom, Halfpipe, Big Air, Slopestyle, Snowboard Cross)
- Biathlon (individual, sprint, pursuit, mass start & relay events)
- Cross-Country Skiing (individual and team sprint, freestyle, pursuit, classical, and relays)
- Ski Jumping (Normal hill individual, Large hill individual, Large hill team, Women’s)
- Nordic Combined (Individual large hill/10 km, Individual normal hill/10 km, Team large hill/4 x 5 km)
Although the Winter Olympics only come around once every four years and obviously only take place in the winter, Olympic athletes train all year-round for this moment in the world spotlight. As you can guess from the list I just gave you, the sports in the Winter Olympics are as varied as you can get, but still, many Olympic athletes use common training techniques, just like us mortals, in preparation for their chosen sport.
Let’s look at a few Winter Olympic sports and the workouts that many Olympic hopefuls use in their training that you could (or already do) incorporate into your fitness routine.
Training for the Bobsled and Luge requires power for the massive push-off start and a strong core control for driving the sled.
Training for the Bobsled, Skeleton, and Luge requires power for the massive push-off start as well as strong core control for driving the sled or steering a luge along the fastest tangent line (which ensures the shortest distance is being travelled). Get yourself ready to carve up the ice by working your core and power with these moves.
Ab Wheel Roll Out
From on your knees, take the ab-wheel and roll forward (get as low as you can) and then roll yourself back up on to your knees. Keep your arms straight and your hips extended.
With your feet on a reasonably slidey surface (or an ab-wheel) start in a pushup position and crawl with your arms locked. Keep your legs straight and drag them behind you.
Stability Ball Push-up
Get into a push-up position with your hands on a stability ball. Engage your glutes and core and do a push-up. For a harder variation, try lifting one leg off the ground.
Stability Ball Pike
Get into a plank position with your shins on the stability ball this time. Using your arms and core, push your butt into the air and roll the ball on to your feet. Then return to the starting position and repeat.
Ice sports athletes would also do some more ubiquitous exercises such as Barbell Back Squats and Weighted Step-ups to build strength and stability in their legs and lower body. Speed skaters need a combination of power, stability and balance to make their way around the oval ice rink at insanely fast speeds.
All skaters train on and off the ice, doing drills to build endurance and power but for speed skating events, a workout that involves the following power enhancing moves would be advantageous.
Wall Knee Drives
Lean forward with your hands on a wall and rapidly drive your knees up while pushing your feet as though you are trying to get them to dig into the ground.
Load a sled (like you see football players or Crossfit athletes using) with a light amount of resistance. Sprint as hard as you can while pushing the sled for 5-10 seconds. Rest and repeat.
This is like sprinting combined with long jumping. Bound as far (but not necessarily as high) as you can from one foot to the other. Try to cover as much ground as you can with each forward bound.
Hockey players and figure skaters need some extra upper body strength so they will want to throw in some exercises like Barbell Bench Press, Pull-ups, Dips, and Rows. And all skaters will likely spend some time on what we call a Slide Board which, if you have a chance to try, is an amazing workout—even if you aren’t an Olympic hopeful skater.
Once you’re on the slide board, bend your knees slightly and use the muscles of your upper thighs to push yourself from one end of the board to the other.
Like dancers, figure skaters train off the ice, practicing jumps, kicks, flexibility, balance, and coordination. For all of these things, they need power and endurance. A good way to get that is by doing box jumps. These simulate the kind of balance necessary for a figure skater to gracefully land on one foot on the ice.
Stand in a “ready to pounce” position, feet shoulder-width apart, a comfortable distance from the box. Extend your hips, swing your arms, and push your feet through the floor to propel yourself onto the box. Land like a cat (and by that I mean quietly and lightly) on one foot and then step back down to the floor to prepare for the next jump.
Athletes have been known to incorporate other activities such as surfing, skateboarding and mountain biking in their training.
The snowboarding event includes halfpipe, parallel giant slalom, and snowboard cross. The Halfpipe requires agility, power, and balance. Snowboard cross and giant slalom require speed and technical skill. Athletes have been known to incorporate other activities such as surfing, skateboarding, and mountain biking in their training.
Alpine skiing includes a handful of events where skiers can reach speeds over 70 MPH. Ski racers, of course, spend the majority of their time training on the snow but they also have been known to incorporate dry-land strength and agility workouts that mimic their event.
Freestyle skiing includes aerials, moguls, and ski cross which are a mixture of strength, acrobatic agility, and endurance. In fact, aerial skiers often start their careers as gymnasts or divers. On the other hand, Mogul skiers need strength, power and fast reflexes.
At their base, these skiing events all require a workout that involves some of these basic strength exercises to get them ready for gold.
With your feet hip-width apart, bend at the hips, and lower your hips and knees until your shins touch the bar. With your chest up and back strong, drive through your heels to lift the weight up. When the bar passes your knees, pull your shoulder blades together and drive your hips forward. Lower the bar by bending at the hips and guiding it to the floor, slow and controlled.
Barbell Front Squat
Holding the bar in front of your shoulders, slowly bend your knees while keeping a straight posture. Go down until your knees are bent around 90 degrees. Then raise the bar by pushing the floor away with the middle of your foot, straightening your legs back to your starting position.
Glute Ham Raise
Get your feet on the footplate and in between the rollers, face down, with your knees just behind the pad. Begin at the bottom and initiate the movement by flexing your hamstrings. Keep your upper body straight and stop when your body is fully upright. Lower back to the starting position, keeping your descent slow and controlled.
Snowboarders will want to add some more interesting, compact agility variations into their program:
Forward Crawl (or Bear Crawl)
Start on all fours with your knees an inch above the ground and crawl forward by taking a tiny step with your right arm and left leg at the same time, and then another step with your left arm and right leg.
Side Kick Through
Start on all fours, with feet (but not knees) on the ground, and lift your right arm and left leg at the same time, swing your left leg underneath you and kick out to your right while keeping your right hand near your right shoulder. Bring your leg back underneath you and place your left foot and right hand back on the ground. Then do the same on the other side. This one is hard to picture so check out this YouTube video from Duncan Maxwell to get the real picture.
Invert your “bear position” and start with your hands and feet flat on the ground, with your belly facing up. Your knees should be bent with your hips just low to the ground. Your arms should be straight with your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Start walking forward by moving your left hand followed by your right foot, and then your right hand followed by your left foot. Yup, just like a crab—with four limbs.
Alongside Tour de France cyclists, cross-country skiers have some of the highest VO2 Max levels around.
Cross-country skiing is the most endurance-focused sport in the Winter Olympics and these athletes train hard. Alongside Tour de France cyclists, cross-country skiers have some of the highest VO2 Max levels around.
Cross-country skiers have been known to do many of the workouts I mentioned previously but will also rollerblade, run, cycle, or row. Cross-country (and Freestyle) Skiers will want to add some endurance exercises like these:
Grab two very heavy dumbbells (that you can handle safely) and stand tall with your chest up and shoulders back. Walk for 30 metres, rest and repeat. You can do this for up to 15 minutes, or until your grip strength gives out.
Work the entire trunk, not just the abs using a combination of plank, side plank, bridge, airplane and Superman. Hold each of the positions for 30 to 60 seconds with a 30-second rest in between. Keep a straight spine and engage all the core muscles from the rectus abdominis on the front to the multifidus in the back.
Single Leg Squats
Stand on your right leg and put the left foot behind you on a box or ball. Lower your body into a squat until your knee is bent to a 90-degree angle. Remember to keep your ankle, knee, and hip in line and try not to let your knee sag to the inside. Think tall thoughts and push your leg back into a straight and standing position.
Biathlon is a bit of an outlier because it combines cross-country skiing and target shooting. In their event, Biathletes need to go, as quickly as possible, from an all-out, heart rate-busting sprint directly into the calm, concentrated and controlled activity of target shooting.
I once coached a former biathlete and I was endlessly amazed at how quickly he was able to drop his heart rate.
I once trained a former biathlete for a marathon and I was endlessly amused and amazed at how quickly he was able to drop his heart rate—even after running some gut-busting hill repeats. Like cross-country skiers, biathletes incorporate running, cycling, rollerblading, and rowing into their training but they also spend hours at target practice and work specifically on breath control. Some even incorporate swimming into their program, to help to teach them to control their breathing during a high-intensity effort.
I have obviously only scratched the surface here but I think you get the idea. You may never hurtle your body down an ice-covered track, throw another human being into the air while wearing skates, or score the winning goal on the likes of Shannon Szabados to bring home the gold medal. And neither will I. But we can (and likely do) train in similar ways to all those high achievers that we watch and cheer on from our comfy seats back home.
I don’t know about you but I am feeling inspired to go do a Skeleton style workout of my own. Minus the part where I experience forces up to 5 g and reach speeds over 130 km/h (80 mph). Yikes!
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