10 Ways Olympic Athletes Train to Burn Fat and Get Lean

I love the Olympic Games because of the competition and because, for the most part, the world's countries can come together for 2 weeks. I don't know of any other event that brings the world together like that. Anyway.....


You are an athlete and you can burn fat like one. Even if you don't make a living as an athlete, you can train your body with the intensity that Olympic athletes train with.

Athletes in speed and power sports are usually very cut and lean because most of their exercises are done with intervals at full speed.

Short bursts are proven fat burners and these athletes primarily train this way. We're talking workouts with major calorie and fat burn.

Note: I recommend doing speed and power workouts no more than 2-3 days a week to prevent injuries.

So, here are 10 tips to help you burn fat and shape your body like an Olympic athlete:

1. Train fast. Ever wonder why sprinters are so cut and lean? You don't have to be fast to train like an Olympian, just run as fast as you can. Limit long distance running and long, slow cardio sessions. Too many long, slow training sessions will waste away your muscle mass. Make this simple observation: Compare a sprinter's body to a marathoner's body.


If you are a long distance runner, regular strength training and some speed work should be a part of your program.

Among other benefits, speed and power exercises recruit more muscle fibers (mainly fast-twitch, bulky fibers) more frequently which helps the fat-burning process. Recruiting your fast-twitch muscle fibers during your workouts will give you a more lean, toned looking body.

Doing this type of exercise will burn more calories and fat during and after your workout. Exercise Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) causes your body to burn more calories and fat after a tough workout. Your body has to work harder to get back to its pre-exercise state.

Short, interval cardio sessions (like 20 minutes) will also give you superior heart health benefits when compared to long, slow cardio sessions.

2. Do plyometrics or jump training. Power and dynamic balance are the two best physical predictors of athletic success. Power is defined as the ability to exert maximum force in the shortest amount of time (rate-of-force production).


Power can be trained for and improved. There is a point at which increasing strength will not result in an increase in power.

Power training gives you these advantages:

a. Improves the excitability, sensitivity and reactivity of your neuromuscular system.

b. Improves the rate-of-force production (allows you to do more work in less time).

c. Increases motor-unit recruitment.

d. Increases motor-unit firing frequency.

e. Increases motor-unit synchronization.

What about swimmers? How do they get so lean. They train fast and also do strength training.



With runners, they must train fast to become faster. Current research shows that the same is true for swimmers. Long swim training sessions actually inhibits power development.

Physiologist Dave Costill says:

“Most competitive swimming events last less than two minutes. How can training for three to four hours a day at speeds that are markedly slower than competitive pace prepare the swimmer for the maximal efforts of competition?”

To optimize strength and power, swimmers need to follow an exercise program out of the water that closely mimics their actions in the water. In other words, swimmers need to go workout in the gym too.

Research has proven that there is no speed advantage gained by swimmers continuing to do high-volume swim training (long practice sessions).

Strength training is critical for swimmers to maintain good posture and bone density.

3. Do quickness and agility drills. Exercises such as ladder drills help you change up your workout intensity with short bursts to burn fat faster. Quality workouts (and not time spent) are the key to fat loss and weight loss success.


Speed ladder drills will also improve your balance and coordination.

Research at Duke University, directed by Dr. Cris Slentz, supports high-intensity exercise for better fat loss. The eight-month study showed that people could lose weight with exercise and no dieting. Those who exercised intensely (especially using interval training) lost much more fat than those who exercised moderately.

According to the research, the high-intensity exercisers had these advantages over the low-to-moderate intensity exercisers:

--more release of fat from cells
--more fat used as fuel during exercise
--increased metabolic rate after exercise

4. Strength train your body in all 3 planes of motion. Using strength exercises that require rotations, turning, twisting and side-to-side motions will fit the bill.

Muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in your body. Your body has to work harder to maintain muscle mass. So, muscle mass is your top fat-burning tool. Work hard and build your body. By the way, fat is not metabolically active tissue.

Keep your metabolism more active at any age with these type workouts:

Do three strength training workouts a week. For example, on your Monday and Friday workouts, you will do full body circuit training with light (but challenging) dumbbells or bodyweight exercises. Your repetition range for each exercise will be 10-12. This type of weight training increases growth hormone in your body.

Growth hormone elevations during this type of exercise have been shown to decrease body fat and increase protein synthesis after exercise. Growth hormone helps promote tissue repair and muscle mass growth from strength training.

Free Report: How to Knock 20 Years Off Your Body. You will learn the top ways to naturally increase your testosterone levels.

Exercises such as sprints and squat jumps also increase growth hormone release. These types of exercises would be perfect for your interval cardio and bodyweight cardio workouts.

Also, build muscle mass with heavy weight lifting. “Heavy” is relative to your body weight and strength. According to the research, doing this type of weight lifting will give you exercise-induced testosterone increases. Of course, this will help you build muscle mass.

Your repetition range for exercises will be 5-6 (you would have a difficult time lifting these repetitions). Your Wednesday workout would be with heavy weights.

Machine-based training concentrates on the sagittal plane (up-down, forward-backward movements). Do miminal training (unless you are rehabbing or a beginner) on machines because they limit your natural movement patterns.

Training in all planes of motion will definitely add intensity and variety to your workouts. Concentrate on compound (multi-joint) exercises like squats of all types, lunges of all types, bench press, rows, step ups, and deadlifts. These exercises work major muscle groups and help you build more muscle mass and burn more fat.

5. Athletes have tremendous core strength. Stabilize and strengthen the core to improve your performance and to prevent injuries. This can be done using exercises like bridges, planks, mountain climbers, ab ball rollouts/jackknifes, bird dogs, cobras, supermans and back extensions. Exercises like shoulder presses and front squats also work the core area in a major way.


You would later progress to full speed core exercises on your feet like medicine ball chops, medicine ball slams, 2-arm and 1-arm medicine ball throws and medicine ball rotational throws.

6. Include many bodyweight and dumbbell exercises in your workouts. This will help you exercise at higher speeds and burn more fat.


You can get to the heavier weights once your joints and muscles are stabilized and balanced. If you can't do bodyweight squats correctly then you won't do heavyweight squats correctly.

7. Train your muscles with all contraction types (eccentric, isometric, concentric). All muscles function eccentrically (reduces force or deceleration), isometrically (stabilizes force) and concentrically (produces force).

Eccentric contractions are able to produce the most tension development followed by isometric contractions and lastly, concentric contractions. If eccentric contractions are able to produce the greatest tension development, then more time should be devoted during training for eccentric contractions to reduce the risk of injuries such as knee ACL tears.

Also, strong eccentric contractions are critical for athletes to produce maximal power since all force production (concentric) must be preceded by force reduction (eccentric).

Lowering the bar on bench press 4 seconds (eccentric) and lifting the bar in one second (concentric) would be an example of eccentric contraction training. You could do the same thing with exercises like hamstring curls, shoulder press, rows and squats.

8. Improve your muscular balance. This will help you build muscle all over your body.

For instance, your quadriceps shouldn't be significantly stronger than your hamstrings. Likewise, the frontside of your upper body should have muscular balance with the backside of your upper body.

9. Improve your flexibility and correct postural problems in the early stages of your training to avoid injuries when you get to more intense training. You can't workout if you are injured.


Dynamic flexibility will help you perform better. Warmup properly and do exercises with correct technique. This is crucial every workout. Walking for 2 minutes or talking to your friend is not a good warm-up.

A good dynamic warm-up prepares your body best for intense workouts. A sample dynamic warm-up could be a 5-10 minute jog, prisoner squats, lunges, jumping jacks, etc. Static stretches would be done after your workout to bring your muscles back to normal length.

10. Eat to build muscle, burn fat and improve daily performance.

Download your Free Report, "What to Never Eat After You Workout."

Aim to eat quality calories to fuel your workouts and daily lifestyle habits. What you eat really matters. Junk food like chips, pastries, candy, donuts and sodas aren't nutritious and have loads of calories. They also have you wanting to eat more in just a short time. Control your eating with a sound nutrition plan.

Hopefully, your nutrition plan includes protein with every meal. You don't need to do protein shakes...just eat the right foods. Research has proven that protein keeps blood sugar levels more steady and helps you feel fuller for a longer period (slower digestion). Protein also keeps the hunger hormone (ghrelin) in check so your hunger doesn't spike so high.

What about eating for your workouts? Did you know you need to eat within 30-45 minutes to feed your muscles after a tough weight training workout? Do you know what you should eat before and after your workout?

Post-workout nutrition is important to help your body recover from intense exercise. And, it will help you get ready for your next workout.

You have to eat enough of the right foods (all the time) for your body to work properly---whether exercising, working, walking or just plain living.

Train harder, smarter, safely and burn more fat like an Olympian!

Be sure and download your Free Bodyweight 500 Metabolic Fat Burner Workouts and start shaping your body faster!

Mark Dilworth, BA, PES

About Mark

About Mark

Mark Dilworth is a Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist and since 2006 he has owned Your Fitness University, Her Fitness Hut, My Fitness Hut, Sports Fitness Hut.

Mark has helped thousands of clients and readers make lifestyle changes that lead to better long-term health, which includes acceptable body fat and ideal body weight.He does not recommend fad diets, quick weight loss gimmicks, starvation diets, weight loss pills, fat burner supplements and the like.