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The Fitness Zone

What It Takes To Be An Olympic Athlete
August 5, 2016

The one thing spectators of the Olympics don’t get to experience, is the endless training and preparation athletes endure to reach the height of their career at the Olympics. So before you start thinking you’re going to make the Tokyo games, we chat to current Australian Institute of Fitness Master Trainer student and three-time Olympian, Libby Trickett to find out what it really takes to be an athlete at the games.


If you have aspirations of living the Olympic dream, the number one thing you need on your side is your health and fitness. But do you know what an Olympian’s training schedule actually entails? “In preparation for major competitions, I would be training ten session in the water, two weights sessions, two runs, two stationary bike sessions, one yoga class, one pilates class, and four core sessions,” shares Libby. That is a whopping thirty-five hours a week training… WOW!

Now, if competing in the Olympics is a goal of yours, we are not suggesting that you need to start training thirty-five hours per week. What you should be doing is assessing your fitness levels, finding yourself a coach that specialises in your event/sport that you are aiming to compete in and set yourself SMART goals. “I found writing down my goals and putting them in obvious places around the house, allowed me to stay focused on what I was trying to achieve and working towards,” says Libby.



We all know you can’t out train a bad diet - YES, even if you are training thirty-five hours a week - so eating a healthy balanced diet when training for an event is imperative. When Libby was prepping for the Olympics, she said consistency in your diet is key. “I never wanted to change anything in my diet when I was racing, and would EVEN cut out chocolate completely in the lead up to big events.”

In the off season, LIbby is a firm believer of everything in moderation though, and advises you to listen to your body and what it is asking for.


Physical health and fitness is arguably the MOST important aspect when preparing for the Olympic games, however mental preparation is a large focus, especially in the weeks leading up to an event. “In the lead up to our main meets, we would visualise our races and try to execute our race processes,” shares Libby, who adds that she used to see a sports psychologist who helped with little tips that aided her performance in the pool.

Another way of establishing a strong and healthy mindset, is creating a routine prior to a race or event. “I had a pretty set routine that made me feel comfortable before I raced. I would eat around two hours before my event and arrive on pool deck an hour and a half before I raced,” Libby says. From there she would stretch for 20 minutes, warm up for 20 minutes, then have one last pep talk with her coach before the race. That is the routine that occurred before almost EVERY event!

So whether you are aiming for the Tokyo Games in 2020, or training for your first 10k run, having your health and fitness on side and a strong mindset will have you on the right path.

Libby’s advice: ”for any athletes hoping to make the Olympics one day, find something that you absolutely love and work your arse off to achieve it. It can be tough, it can be difficult, and it may seem impossible at times, but if you want it enough and you work smart, I believe that you can achieve it.”
This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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