How to Get a Gold Medal Winning Body
August 16, 2012
By: Jessie Baldwin
The Olympics may be over but the legacy of London 2012 is likely to be long-lasting, after Team GB’s incredible performance has inspired the nation to get fit and achieve sporting success. We would be lying, however, if we claimed that our motivation to get moving was purely due to a desire to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympics (yes, that might be part of it) but, what we really want is the Olympians’ flawless physiques. From Jessica Ennis’ perfectly defined abs to Victoria Pendleton’s terrifically toned legs, each Olympic sport shapes and tones the body in different ways. What would your ideal physique be?
To help you consider this vital question, HerUni has compiled a collection of your favourite Team GB athletes, with each representing a different sport. Next to each athlete’s photograph, you can find out how their particular sport determines their body shape, and how you can take up that sport. So what are you waiting for? Pick your ideal body shape and find out what you need to do to achieve it!
Having to specialise in a whopping seven events means that golden girl Jess’s body has to be all-rounded, in terms of strength, speed and stamina. Her muscly arms, stomach and legs give her strength to succeed in throwing the javelin and shot put, whilst her agile frame and natural speed are advantageous in the high jump, hurdles and 200m sprint. She also possesses excellent endurance for the 800m. Jess’s upper body, arms, core and legs are equally toned and muscly, which is less common in Olympic athletes. To maintain her famous six pack and amazing physique, Jess practices five events per day, and does full body workouts, endurance cardio training, weight training, core training and interval training – six days a week. The heptathlon is the most demanding of the women’s athletics events but if you’re brave enough, get in touch with your local or university athletics club to see how you can get involved.
If you’d like Victoria Pendleton’s muscly legs and slim upper torso, cycling might be the sport for you. Pedaling tones and strengthens the calves, quadrucepts and hamstrings, and to a lesser extent, the abdominal and back muscles, resulting in a lean stomach and arms. An hour of cycling burns around 500 calories and is fantastic for your cardiovascular system and for speeding up your metabolism , therefore naturally resulting in a slimmer physique. Swapping driving or public transport for cycling also saves money and helps the environment, so you can splash out on new clothes for your sexy shape! If you’re keen to take up cycling, hop on your bike (making sure you have your helmet on) and start with easy, flat routes before building up your mileage and difficulty of terrain. For cycle routes, try cycleroute.com.
Swimming is a fantastic full-body aerobic workout and swimmers like Rebecca Adlington have low body fat and visible muscles, but don’t look too bulky or sinewy. A V-shaped body is characteristic of swimmers (think broad shoulders, a defined torso and chest tapering down to a narrow waist). Swimming is also good if you’d like a flat stomach, as the core abdominal muscles power fast propulsion through the water. Also expect to develop a pert bum, thanks to the contribution of the hip muscles in stabilising the pelvis for streamlining. Swimming is very easy to take up, so there’s no excuse – just hit your local or uni swimming pool, and if you’d like to swim competitively, join your uni swimming club!
Silver medal winner Laura Robson possesses a lean, muscular physique with broad shoulders, strong arms and legs and a toned torso. This is because tennis requires a high level of aerobic activity to run around the court (strengthening the leg muscles) and a great deal of upper body power, used to volley and serve the ball. As well practicing the sport, professional players take part in “plyometric” training, a type of exercise used to produce fast and powerful reactive movements (such as leaping up from a squat position) further increasing muscular strength. To get involved with tennis, book a session at your local court to have a practice, and join your uni tennis club, where there will be plenty of opportunities to practice and take part in matches!
Lightweight rower Sophie Hosking isn’t obviously as heavy as your typical rower, but she is toned and muscly to say the least. Rowing is a fantastic work out because it exercises all the major muscle groups, including the quads, biceps, triceps, lats, glutes and abdominal muscles. This results in strong arms and legs, a toned bum and impressive tummy muscles/potential six pack! Like tennis, it also improves your wrist strength and hand grip, which is always a bonus. As well practicing strokes on the rowing machine, rowers undergo endurance training such as running and cycling, and take part in strengthening exercises like doing the plank. Sounds pretty taxing, but your physique will reap the benefits! Most universities have a rowing club that you can join as a novice and start training for races or just keep fit.
Long distance runners like Hannah England are characteristically slim and have low body fat (around 7%) due to the great numbers of calories that running burns. This results in strong muscle definition, especially in the legs. As well as having a toned lower body, a good running posture will being toned arms and core abdominal muscles: hence why Hannah has such a slim upper torso as well as legs. If you’re looking to lose weight and tone up without paying to go to the gym or joining a club, running is your best option as you can go wherever you are! Your first run might be tough and leave you achey and out of breath, but it gets easier, and can get very addictive. If you’re looking to run a certain distance, websites like mapmyrun.com suggest local routes and allow you to map out a particular route to see how many miles you are running. Or if you’d like to exercise and be sociable at the same time, why not join a running club? Your uni or local leisure centre should offer one.
So, there you have it: the chance to choose your sport to match your desired body shape. Obviously, to achieve a physique like the team GB athletes, you will need to put a lot of effort into regular, intensive training, which might be impractical whilst studying for your degree (and partying)! However, three or four one-hour training sessions a week (or five thirty minute sessions) is still do-able, and will make a huge difference to your body shape after a few months. What is particularly important is that you enjoy the sport of your choice – if not, change to a form of exercise that you look forward to! And if you find yourself losing motivation, stick a poster of Jess Ennis on your wall!
Images from: thesun.co.uk, en.wikipedia.org, web.poptower.com, guardian.co.uk, cowbell.typepad.com and metro.co.uk.