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10 Tips for an Olympic Body

Experts share the diet and exercise secrets of Olympic athletes.

5. Watch the mirror, not the scale. continued...

When she swam her record-setting race in Sydney, the 5-foot-6-inch swimmer weighed between 120 and 125 pounds, with 18% body fat. Now, she weighs between 135 and 138 pounds, but her body fat is down to 12%. 

"If your clothes fit great and you like the way you look in the mirror, does it matter what the scale says?" she asks. "It's like age. You could be 45 but feel 30. Age and weight are just numbers that we get obsessed with, but they don't mean we're healthy."

Instead of weighing, Bennett recommends having someone measure you every two weeks and check your body fat once a month, which will provide a yardstick for how much fat you're actually losing.

6. Drink plenty of water.

The body is made up of 60% water, which means it needs a regular supply to survive. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), a fluid loss of even 2% body weight will affect circulatory functions and decrease performance. 

The amount of water each person needs will vary depending on many factors such as underlying medical condition, physical activity level, and environment. The Institute of Medicine generally recommends about 91 ounces of total water (from drinks and food) on average per day for women and 125 ounces for men. Most water that we consume comes from beverages, but about 20% comes from food. Too much water can be harmful.

7. Ease into new exercises.

If you are going from cyclist to runner or runner to cyclist, you may be pretty fit, but your muscles or skeletal system might not be ready for the new sport. Think of Lance Armstrong's painful New York City Marathon debut last year.

So take it easy at first, and don't overdo it.

8. Vary your activity, but include the weight room.

Olympic athletes spend a lot of time on their primary activity (a cyclist will ride, a runner will run), but for most folks, varying the activity reduces boredom and uses a variety of muscles which may otherwise not get worked.

Also, says Callan, strength and power -- which come from resistance training -- are important components of any sport. Working out with weights will also reduce the loss of muscle mass that often occurs with aging. Even men in their 70s and 80s have put on lean mass in a relatively basic strength-training program. 

Also, the NASM says that studies have shown no difference between those who do resistance training three times a week vs. those who train five times a week. So you really don't have to train like an Olympian in the weight room. A little goes a long way.

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