17+ Winter Olympic Workouts You Can Do Too

As you watch the world's finest winter athletes freeze their giblets off from your warm and cozy couches, you may ask: what types of workouts do these gladiators do in preparation for the Winter Olympics?

Brock Armstrong
8-minute read
Episode #376

Snowboarders will want to add some more interesting, compact agility variations into their program:

Forward Crawl (or Bear Crawl)

Start on all fours with your knees an inch above the ground and crawl forward by taking a tiny step with your right arm and left leg at the same time, and then another step with your left arm and right leg.

Side Kick Through

Start on all fours, with feet (but not knees) on the ground, and lift your right arm and left leg at the same time, swing your left leg underneath you and kick out to your right while keeping your right hand near your right shoulder. Bring your leg back underneath you and place your left foot and right hand back on the ground. Then do the same on the other side. This one is hard to picture so check out this YouTube video from Duncan Maxwell to get the real picture.

Crab Walk

Invert your “bear position” and start with your hands and feet flat on the ground, with your belly facing up. Your knees should be bent with your hips just low to the ground. Your arms should be straight with your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Start walking forward by moving your left hand followed by your right foot, and then your right hand followed by your left foot. Yup, just like a crab—with four limbs.

Olympic Nordic Workouts

Alongside Tour de France cyclists, cross-country skiers have some of the highest VO2 Max levels around.

Cross-country skiing is the most endurance-focused sport in the Winter Olympics and these athletes train hard. Alongside Tour de France cyclists, cross-country skiers have some of the highest VO2 Max levels around.

Cross-country skiers have been known to do many of the workouts I mentioned previously but will also rollerblade, run, cycle, or row. Cross-country (and Freestyle) Skiers will want to add some endurance exercises like these:

Farmer’s Walk

Grab two very heavy dumbbells (that you can handle safely) and stand tall with your chest up and shoulders back. Walk for 30 metres, rest and repeat. You can do this for up to 15 minutes, or until your grip strength gives out.

Trunk Circuits

Work the entire trunk, not just the abs using a combination of plank, side plank, bridge, airplane and Superman. Hold each of the positions for 30 to 60 seconds with a 30-second rest in between. Keep a straight spine and engage all the core muscles from the rectus abdominis on the front to the multifidus in the back.

Single Leg Squats

Stand on your right leg and put the left foot behind you on a box or ball. Lower your body into a squat until your knee is bent to a 90-degree angle. Remember to keep your ankle, knee, and hip in line and try not to let your knee sag to the inside. Think tall thoughts and push your leg back into a straight and standing position.

Biathlon is a bit of an outlier because it combines cross-country skiing and target shooting. In their event, Biathletes need to go, as quickly as possible, from an all-out, heart rate-busting sprint directly into the calm, concentrated and controlled activity of target shooting.

I once coached a former biathlete and I was endlessly amazed at how quickly he was able to drop his heart rate.

I once trained a former biathlete for a marathon and I was endlessly amused and amazed at how quickly he was able to drop his heart rate—even after running some gut-busting hill repeats. Like cross-country skiers, biathletes incorporate running, cycling, rollerblading, and rowing into their training but they also spend hours at target practice and work specifically on breath control. Some even incorporate swimming into their program, to help to teach them to control their breathing during a high-intensity effort.

Your Inner Olympian

I have obviously only scratched the surface here but I think you get the idea. You may never hurtle your body down an ice-covered track, throw another human being into the air while wearing skates, or score the winning goal on the likes of Shannon Szabados to bring home the gold medal. And neither will I. But we can (and likely do) train in similar ways to all those high achievers that we watch and cheer on from our comfy seats back home.

I don’t know about you but I am feeling inspired to go do a Skeleton style workout of my own. Minus the part where I experience forces up to 5 g and reach speeds over 130 km/h (80 mph). Yikes!

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About the Author

Brock Armstrong

Brock Armstrong is a certified AFLCA Group Fitness Leader with a designation in Portable Equipment, NCCP and CAC Triathlon Coach, and a TnT certified run coach. He is also on the board of advisors for the Primal Health Coach Institute and a guest faculty member of the Human Potential Institute. Do you have a fitness question? Leave a message on the Get-Fit Guy listener line. Your question could be featured on the show.