When the 2008 Olympic Games open in Beijing, millions will be marveling at
all the athletes' bodies. Muscled legs, backs, abs, and arms -- sure
signs of the Olympic body, carefully sculpted for power, speed, and
But what does it take to get that Olympic body? And could the average Joe
(or Joelle) ever hope to look like an Olympic athlete?
"Sure," says Sam Callan, an exercise physiologist and the coaching
education manager for USA Cycling. "If you're willing to spend the
Of course, few people have the kind of time that Olympic athletes devote to
their training. But even if your best "event" revolves around the
remote, not all is lost. After all, when it comes to the competition for a
healthy body, it's often enough to join the game.
So if you're ready to shape up, here are some cues from the pros to get you
1. Know your body type.
Some of us are built for speed, some for endurance, says Callan. Figuring
out what feels natural -- and what you're best at -- will help you determine
which type of exercise will work for you.
Do you like to jump? Sprint? Spend time on the treadmill? Everyone has a
unique body composition, and which composition of muscle fiber type you have
will determine whether you will have more endurance or speed and power.
"We're all born somewhere on that continuum, but all the training in the
world can only move you a little bit," he explains. That's why Arnold
Schwarzenegger probably couldn't have been a long-distance runner, he says.
2. Determine your goals.
You're bound to be better at some kinds of physical events than others, so
choose one or two that feel natural and that you enjoy. You'll be much more
likely to stick with it -- and see success.
Do you want to slim down? Focus on nutrition and a routine of steady
cardiovascular endurance exercise, with short bursts of speed called interval
training. Do you want to build up your cardiovascular endurance? Try swimming,
running, or cycling. If it's speed you're after, try adding sprints to your
routine. And if you only have a short time to work out, try circuit
training, which consists of a series of resistance training exercises performed
one after the other, with minimal rest.
But if you have weak areas, says Callan, don't hesitate to address them with