Olympic body beauty
Forget musicians and movie stars this summer, because the only celebrities the limelight currently illuminates are the world’s fittest Olympian bodies. We don’t want bodies that just talk the talk anymore; functionally fit bodies that walk the walk of athletic ability are well and truly ‘in’.
Being thin just isn’t enough these days, because if it’s a hot body you’re after, you can’t get much hotter than the Olympic flame. Of all the Olympians however, which bodies can walk the tightrope of social admiration most gracefully of all?
If you crave a body worthy of a Greek divinity atop Mount Olympus read on, for today we let the Games guide the way.
So, giant gym mirror on the free-weights section wall, which Olympians are the fairest of them all? Kicking off with the women, for my first pick I simply could not with a clear conscience leave out the famous beach volley babes.
Of course, the conventional indoor version of the game conveys equal booty-liciousness upon its female participants but let’s face it, the outfits worn in the beach version clinch the win.
Volleyball involves plenty of jumping, and this forceful extension of the hips and knees just happens to be excellent training for the waist, hips, buns and thighs – areas of the body women most typically strive to change.
Volleyball players also remain active and animated throughout the course of a game, benefiting from excellent cardiovascular conditioning. This keeps them aerobically fit and burns off excess body fat.
Because the intensity and duration of this cardiovascular load is not excessive, like say, marathon running, female volleyball players avoid becoming too lean, thus retaining their femininity.
My vote for second place sport for the women goes to hockey. When I chanced upon a game featuring Holland the other day, I wasn’t quite sure if I was actually watching the real Dutch national hockey team or a troop of London-based Victoria’s Secret models on leave from catwalk duties enjoying a touch of sporting recreation.
The stance used in hockey involves deep forward flexion at the hips and slight flexion of the knees, resulting in loading of the same key areas of the hips, buttocks, lower back, and thighs.
Hockey players must also contend with moderate degrees of cardiovascular stress, thus optimising body composition and keeping an attractive muscle-to-fat ratio.
Moving on to the hunks, without doubt the Olympic body-beautiful prize for men so far must go to the gymnasts. These impressive athletes sport chiselled upper body musculature characterised by imposing shoulders and cannonball biceps, cut to a fat-free definition to rival any competitive bodybuilder.
Their physical mastery of their own bodyweight means that in gym terms, they train with moderate intensity and high volume. In other words, they perform a lot of repetitions, with moderate weight, that is, their own bodyweight.
This approach is similar to how a bodybuilder or fitness model would train, however since the resistance employed is not continuously increased, the size of the muscles remains capped at a tasteful level.
With their freakishly broad shoulders, our runners-up in the men’s Olympic physique standings emerge from the shallow waters of the Olympic swimming pool.
All that pulling performed by the hands against the natural resistance of the water is, in gym terms, akin to taking up permanent residence on the ‘lat pull-down’ machine.
The development of the Latissimus Dorsi muscles of the upper back results in a powerful V-shaped torso. When combined with the lean, slender look, male swimmers might not share the all-round strength of gymnasts, but could just as easily share the front covers of Men’s Health.
For both men and women, the sport of Olympic weightlifting to my view comes in a close third. Forget the pot-bellied super-heavyweight lifters and instead observe the female lifters in the 47-kilogramme class, and the male lifters in the 77-kilogramme class.
The only time my jaw has ever physically dropped was way back in 2007 at a European contest in Verona.
An Italian weightlifter in the women’s 47-kilogramme class sported the most perfectly sculpted feminine form I have ever seen, and is singularly the sole reason for my inclusion of squats and pulls from the floor in virtually every programme I have written for female clients since that memorable day.
Now that we are armed with this seemingly trivial hierarchy of body-sculpting Olympic disciplines, let’s have a look at my Olympian training plan. Forget those pieces of gold, silver and bronze; let’s win a set of curves to die for.
For both men and women we begin with weightlifting simulation on Mondays, which should be performed with free-weights and include squats and pulls from the floor.
For women, Wednesday is hockey simulation, meaning you can pursue any physical activity in the shape of a game enjoyable enough to engage you for 45 minutes to an hour.
Men, hit the pool or sea on Wednesday to learn and practise your shoulder-broadening freestyle, breast stroke and back stroke. This cardiovascular conditioning will also annihilate body fat for that lean slender appearance.
For women, Friday is volleyball simulation day. High-impact aerobics or any energetic group fitness class will blitz those buns and thighs and help burn off stored body fat.
For men, end your week with gymnastics simulation. Hit the gym and focus on moderate weight for high repetitions, and include bodyweight moves like pull-ups, push-ups and dips.