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Train Like an Olympian

Add volume to your training regimen, but not all at once. “The volume should be progressively built up in order to tolerate and respond positively to these increased loads,” Sandbakk says.

Winning eight Olympic gold medals requires lots of squats, countless high-intensity intervals and an average of 18 hours of training every week — but most of it at a surprisingly low intensity level.

Meet Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjørgen. At 38 she’s the most decorated winter Olympian of all time. She recently shared 17 years’ worth of training records — for 8,105 sessions — with researchers from two Norwegian universities and the Norwegian Olympic Federation. Their analysis, published in Frontiers in Physiology, provides insights for all athletes.

Bjørgen began recording workouts in 2000 when she was 20 years old. Her initial training included a high proportion of brief, intense intervals that often pushed her heart rate over 90 percent of her max. Soon, however, her results plateaued.

Tags in this article

Olympics, Training & Drills