Become a Better Athlete While Watching the Olympics

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These workouts, drills, stretches, and exercises from VeloPress authors and Olympians can help make your Olympic TV time a little less brain melting — and might even make you a better athlete.

VeloPress is proud that 33 of our current authors have a strong tie to the Olympics, yet we realize that watching hours of Olympic coverage every night for weeks isn’t exactly healthy. We’ve mined our books for some drills, workouts, and mental exercises you can use couchside to harness the excitement of the Olympics to inspire your own training and racing.

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Drills and Stretches You Can Do While Watching the Olympics

An Olympic Runner’s Favorite Stretches and Drills: Alan Culpepper’s excellent and illuminating book Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner reveals the best practices of the best runners, as discovered by Culpepper while training for his two Olympic appearances. Culpepper shares these videos of his favorite warm-up drills, stretches, and cool-downs from his book and they’re easy to do while watching the tube. Many of these are pretty short in duration, which make them perfect for commercial breaks. And let’s be honest; after just the first few days, aren’t we all getting sick of the same TV ads by now?

Yoga for Athletes: Sage Rountree is America’s leading expert on yoga for athletes and her books The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga and The Athlete’s Pocket Guide to Yoga are packed with excellent yoga poses and routines that are specifically designed for athletes. Her general yoga book, Everyday Yoga, shows you how to create your own, at-home yoga classes. To try out some of Sage’s yoga, just visit each book’s page and click the “preview book” button on the left. This will open a pdf that will share some yoga you can try out.

Yoga to Solve Problems: Erin Taylor has worked with Olympian Alysia Montano as well as middle-distance runner Lauren Fleshman and long jumper Norris Frederick. Her new book Work In: The Athlete’s Plan for Real Recovery and Winning Results offers mental exercises and yoga poses to practice anywhere, and Hit Reset helps athletes target specific problems with specific yoga poses. To try a yoga “reset” from Hit Reset, just visit the book’s page and click the “preview book” button on the left. This will open a pdf that will share some yoga you can try out.

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TV Time Can Be Recovery Time: So you did your workout earlier today and it’s time to relax in front of the tube. Why not make the most of couch time with some focused recovery? Sage Rountree’s groundbreaking book The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery offers a wide variety of ways athlete’s can recovery more quickly and fully from workouts and races. From self-massage to yoga to ice baths, author Sage Rountree evaluates the effectiveness of each method and shows how you can try them for yourself. One super simple recovery move that works well for runners and cyclists is a Rountree yoga pose called “Legs Up the Wall“. Give it a try! You can also mute the NBC commentary during sports you’re less interested in and try two of Sage’s guided meditations on breathing and awareness from her website here.

Don’t Ignore Your Core: Tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides with Allison Westfahl’s Core Envy. With no special equipment required, you can await the medal results while holding a plank or reverse tabletop. Allison guides you through 9 sample exercises in these videos. Pro cyclist Tom Danielson, along with Westfahl, offers cyclists 50 essential core exercises in his book Tom Danielson’s Core Advantage. Videos of 10 of the basic strength exercises will give you a taste of the program.

Swimming Exercises You Can Try In Your Living Room

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Name That Swimming Stroke Quiz! Olympic gold medalist swimmer Sheila Taormina reveals the fastest way to swim in her bestselling book Swim Speed Secrets. While examining underwater photos of the world’s fastest swimmers, including Olympians Peter Vanderkaay, Allison Schmitt, Mark Spitz, and Aaron Peirsol, Sheila shows that the arm positioning is identical for freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, and breaststroke. Can you spot any differences? Take Sheila’s Stroke Quiz to see if you’re right!

Swim Speed Tubing Workout: A Swim Speed reader asked Sheila Taormina for a swim tubing workout he could do in a hotel room during work travel. You’ll need a set of swim tubing, which is a smart purchase since Sheila describes tubing as the swimmer’s secret weapon, before you try this tubing-only workout in your living room, no swimsuit required! Then consider the Swim Speed Workouts 8-week swimming speed program, which will develop the world’s fastest swimming technique in you. Try the first week of Swim Speed Workouts here.

Cycling Workouts You Can Do While Watching TV

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Bike Trainer Workouts: Workouts in a Binder for Indoor Cycling by Dirk Friel actually includes a stationary bike workout called “TV Time”! Of course it’s an interval workout that uses the commercial breaks to push up your heart rate. To try out some trainer workouts, just visit the book’s page and click the “preview book” button on the left. This will open a pdf that will share some workouts you can try out.

More Bike Trainer Workouts: One-Hour Workouts from triathlon coaches Scott Molina, Michael Jacques, and Mark Newton offers up fun and effective swim, bike, and run workouts designed to take exactly 60 minutes from start to finish. The workouts are ideal both for your lunch break and for a full hour of NBC Olympics coverage! Try a few — just visit the book’s page here and click the “preview book” button on the left. This will open a pdf that will share some workouts you can try out on the trainer.