These 6 Olympic Athletes Share Their Diet, Exercise, and Relaxation Regimens
When it was discovered that Olympic Gold medal-hoarder Michael Phelps consumed 12,000 calories a day as part of his training regimen, we were all predictably shocked — and, to be honest, more than a little bit envious. It was later revealed that this report was just a myth, which means we may have to eliminate those Ben & Jerry’s 20-scoop Vermonsters from our diet plans — even if we do plan on hitting the lap pool for six hours afterwards.
With the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi just around the corner, the spotlight is once again focused in on the Herculean training habits of our venerable Team U.S.A athletes. Fortunately for the fitness nut in all of us, six of the athletes taking part in the upcoming winter Olympics are happy to divulge the details of their exercise and eating regimens, as well as what helps them relax after a long day of doing what they do best.
Contrary to popular belief, the most decorated female alpine skier in U.S. history is not the uberfamous Lindsey Vonn, but her more laid-back teammate-slash-rival, Julia Mancuso. Now, after the injured Vonn’s withdrawal from the Sochi games, all eyes are on Mancuso to lead the U.S. ski team to gold.
Nutrition: Mancuso swears by Zico coconut water — she uses it as a base for her morning smoothie of powdered greens and whey protein, and brings a bottle along with her for the slopes. She makes sure to pack a good ol’ PB & J sandwich for the mountain as well.
Relaxation: The 29-year-old plays the ukulele, surfs, and has a house in Maui. Still not one for the sedentary life, Mancuso is also currently exploring the sport of free-diving, having recently learned to submerge herself to the depth of 60 feet without any equipment.
J. R. Celski
Speedskater J. R. Celski won two Bronze medals in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, an impressive feat all the more magical in light of the gruesome injury he suffered five months prior to the games. But after emergency surgery, 60 stitches, and months of rehab, the 23-year-old Washington State native made a splash in Vancouver and is poised to excel even further in Sochi.
Exercise and Strength Training: Rock-solid quad muscles are a must for speed skaters, and Celski builds up this strength by running, biking, and lifting weights. But Celski also touts the importance of core work, and he builds up abdominal strength by lifting leg weights and doing lots and lots of planking.
Nutrition: Celski’s personalized post-workout protein shake contains barley greens, spinach, and peas. Yum?
Relaxation: A trip to the sauna helps Celski recover after a tough workout. Now that’s something we can appreciate.
Ohio-born Gretchen Bleiler, a halfpipe snowboarder, battled back from a gory injury of her own: in June of last year, she over-rotated on a double backflip during a trampoline exercise and suffered what is — ahem — delicately called an “orbital wall blowout.” (The details are not for the faint of heart.) Fortunately, the double-vision and vertigo has abated, and the gregarious 32-year-old is poised to continue carrying the torch as one of the most prominent female snowboarders on the slopes.
Exercise and Strength Training: Squats! Squats! Squats! Squats! Squats! Oh, and also lunges, plyometrics, and agility and weight training.
Nutrition: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, preaches Bleiler. She likes to chow down an omelet with broccoli, zucchini, avocado, and goat cheese, along with a slice of gluten-free rice almond bread. To re-energize on the mountain, Bleiler munches on dried mangoes, walnuts, and goji berries, which provide her with much-needed iron, antioxidants, and omega-3s.
Relaxation: Daily meditation has helped Bleiler maintain “balance and connection” in her life.
Hannah Kearney captured the Gold medal in women’s mogul skiing back in Vancouver, and she hasn’t slowed down a bit. During the 2011-2012 International Ski Federation World Cup, Kearney earned 16 consecutive victories, setting an FIS record.
Exercise and Strength Training: Kearney takes multiple trips to the gym a day, six days a week. She warms up at the gym in the mornings with 30 minutes of cardio, and then hits the mountain for ski training. The final gym visit of the day entails core work and low-level cardio for recovery purposes, in addition to “neural activation,” which Kearney describes as “a lot of jumping around.” Hey, those thigh muscles won’t strengthen themselves.
Nutrition: Like athletes of all differing disciplines, Kearney focuses on consuming lots of protein, as well as embracing a lifestyle of generally healthy eating. Her snack of choice is Chobani topped with Bear Naked granola. Athletes — they’re just like us!
Relaxation: Kearney takes her knitting with her everywhere, citing its soothing effect on her nerves.
Daughter of the late Major League Baseball outfielder Ted Uhlaender, Katie Uhlaender is certainly not lacking in athletic genes. But the training required for skeleton racing — in which participants hurtle down an icy track, head-first, at nearly 70 mph — differs ever so slightly from that of a baseball player, and Uhlaender’s daily routine is predictably hardcore.
Exercise and Strength Training: A typical day of training for Uhlaender entails morning sprints, followed by post-lunch medicine ball work. Additional medicine ball exercises and squats fill her evenings. She also practices variations of the snatch and clean-and-jerks, weightlifting techniques that also double as training for her campaign to earn a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Weightlifting team, because, you know, no one likes a slacker.
Nutrition: Uhlaender eats every three hours in order to recover from her demanding training sessions. She takes amino acid supplements and downs a protein powder shake made from all natural ingredients.
Relaxation: While training in Calgary, Uhlaender took up fishing. Now there’s a change in pace.
Erin Hamlin is no stranger to Olympic competition, as she prepares to suit up for the U.S. Luge team for the third time. The 27-year-old New York State native has a rigorous training routine similar to her fellow Olympians. However, because she wants to ensure that gravity is working in her favor while she slides down the luge track, her dietary restrictions are a lot more relaxed.
Exercise and Strength Training: Weight training and pull-ups are key to Hamlin’s upper-body workout routine, and planking helps strengthen her core. In order to perfect her start on the luge track, she also works on powerful, explosive movement.
Nutrition: Though Hamlin proclaims that she “[doesn’t] have to diet at all,” she’s quick to clarify that healthy eating is obviously still critical to athletic success. As a result, Hamlin consumes lots of lean proteins — shakes, chicken breasts, and Greek yogurt are all staples of her diet.
Relaxation: Hamlin is a big proponent of yoga, which doubles as a relaxation and strength training technique.