Few people push their bodies past their physical limits like Olympic athletes, who’ve proven over and over that when it comes to endurance, strength, and speed, our bodies are capable of far more than we ever thought possible.

What if we could learn from these athletes and incorporate their best practices into our workouts?

Understanding Your Physical Limits

Our physical limits are both physical and mental. For instance, if your muscles aren’t conditioned to lift twice your body weight, they will tear if you try.

However, this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. You need to train your body to withstand the pain that comes with pushing your body incrementally towards achieving that goal while simultaneously recalibrating your brain’s self-imposed limitations.

Your physical limits are just as much mental as they are physical. Your brain tends to say “enough” before you reach your actual limit because its primary goal is to protect and keep you safe. Your brain works to keep you within a safe comfort zone.

As such, pushing past your physical limit is as much about believing what’s possible as it is about physical performance. This is why runners use less energy and can run longer and farther when they imagine feeling relaxed.

What You Can Learn from Elite Athletes

Have a goal
Olympic athletes spend four years training for their next medal. However, to stay motivated on a day-to-day basis, they break down their Olympic goal into smaller goals.

Adopting a similar technique helps you to stay on track too. For instance, if you’re training for a marathon, start by running three miles a day up to 5 times a week and build towards 20 miles.

Compound movements and cross training
Compound movements are exercises that use multiple muscles and joints at the same time. They help build strength much faster than isolated exercises.

Cross training, on the other hand, refers to varying your workout routines to engage different muscle groups. The goal is to pair workouts that support each other while also exercising muscles that are neglected during your typical workouts.

For example, if you’re a runner, start incorporating cycling or swimming into your workout sessions. Cycling will strengthen your heart and leg muscles, which will come in handy when you’re running. On the other hand, swimming provides a total body workout while giving your joints a rest.

The right attitude
While you probably can’t devote multiple hours a day to training like an Olympian, you can adopt an Olympian’s attitude during your workout. This means approaching your workout with single-minded focus and discipline.

For the duration of your workout, the only thing that matters is striving to improve your personal best. Put all other thoughts relating to your job, family, and other commitments out of your mind.

Be present, focused, and intentional. Concentrate on your goal. You’ll be surprised how this laser-focused approach accelerates your gains and improves performance.

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