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Olympics/Training at Olympic Level

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Question
Hello Bob,
I am doing a project on the Olympics and I am trying to get a grasp on the dedication that is involved. For example, how does preparing for the Olympics affect an athletes diet, social life, and how much training is required. Overall, how is someone's lifestyle changed when they are preparing for an Olympic game?
Thanks!
Lydia

Answer
Hello, Lydia
For a quick answer, in my sport of weightlifting elite level competitors are training 300 days a year and it's rumored that the top Chinese lifters will be training 330 days a year.  Many of these days involve two or three sessions per day.  When you consider the amount of time spent in pre-training sports medical attention, and post training restoration and then the necessity to eat soon after training we are talking about a full day with little time left for anything else.  This type of training requires an athlete to adopt a lifestyle, and very soon most of one's friends are those people living the same lifestyle.  This severely limits the number of people with whom meaningful relationships can develop.  
The timing of eating is very vital to eating and most athletes are eating several meals per day that must be timed in relationship to training.  Of course a certain number of hours must be devoted to quality sleep.  
As a coach I always knew when someone was serious about training when they began to make life decisions outside the gym with respect to the demands of the lifestyle.  They often ended up consulting with me before taking a job, deciding where to live, making a major purchase and other life decisions.  I hope this is helpful.  Good luck with your project.  

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Bob Takano

Expertise

I can answer questions about training weightlifters for national and international competition.

Experience

I am a member of the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame. I coached Olympian Albert Hood to two American records in the '84 Games. I've coached 17 international teams for the United States. I managed the training hall at the '84 Games, and was the assistant announcer at the '96 Games. Member, Editorial Board of the NSCA Journal

Organizations
USA Weightlifting, National Strength and Conditioning Association

Publications
Strength and Power in Sport--published by the Sports Medicine Commission of the IOC

Education/Credentials
I have a B.A. in biology, a secondary teaching credential, and am certified as a strength and conditioning specialist with the NSCA. I am a Senior International Coach with US weightlifting.

Awards and Honors
Member, USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame.

Past/Present Clients
UCLA Extension

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