The Winter Olympics may not be as popular as the Summer Olympics, but there are some categories that really stand out because of the skill and endurance they require. And can there be anything more spectacular than watching an athlete gliding across the ice before leaping into a triple axel, or watching a pro launching off the end of a ski ramp in a gravity-defying jump – and landing unscathed on both skis?

Let’s consider the amount of training that makes it possible to achieve these feats – and what’s in it for you.

How they do it

The following is a brief breakdown of training in figure skating, one of the Winter Olympics’ most popular categories:

Sometimes compared to ballet, figure skating is a mesmerising show of grace, symmetry, speed and power. But the skaters aren’t born with these skills. They’re the result of a strict and gruelling training regimen that starts in their formative years – for some as early as three.

Because these athletes need enhanced flexibility, balance, coordination, power and endurance, skaters are required to train on and off the ice five to six days a week.

The following schedule paints the picture of a day in the life of a young figure skater with aspirations of becoming an Olympic medallist:

    • 4:30am: a light breakfast

    • 5:30am: off-ice training and jumping at the rink

    • 6:00am and 6:45 am: skating and practising freestyle

    • 7:30am: depart for school or work

    • 3:00pm: more off-ice training and jumping at the rink

    • 3:30 and 4:15pm: skating and practising freestyle

    • 5:15pm: participation in a ballet class or an off-ice workout

    • 6:00pm: supper

    • 6:45pm: relaxation

    • 8:00pm: bedtime

Calisthenics the way to go

According to the US Figure Skating Association, one of the preferred methods of off-ice training for figure skaters is calisthenics (also known as “bodyweight strength training”).

It’s a great way to achieve incredible results without joining a gym. What’s more, it can be done indoors and outdoors by anyone.

Take your cue from the Olympians and give it a shot – at your own pace (unless you’re also aiming for an Olympic medal).

What it involves

Believed to have its origins in Greco-Roman gymnastics (in Greek, kallos means beauty and thenos strength), this great fat burning bodyweight strength training routine consist of multi-joint exercises without any weights or equipment, relying only on your body weight.

Some of the most popular techniques included in a bodyweight workout routine are:

    • Knee bends

    • Sit-ups

    • Trunk curls

    • Pelvic tilts (hip raisers)

    • Leg kicks

    • V-ups

    • Walking lunges

    • Shadow boxing

    • Instep touches

    • Squats

    • Abdominal exercises

Mix and match these fat-burning workouts, as you like, in reps of 5 to 10 repetitions for 20 to 40 minutes without breaks in between.

Always start your routine with a 2- to 3-minute warm-up (walking on the spot or stretching), and an after-workout cool down. This involves doing simple stretches for 3 to 5 minutes, ending off with 7 to 10 deep breaths.

REMEMBER: You may not be training for the Olympics, but consistent exercise through a technique such as calisthenics will rapidly burn stored fat, get your body in shape, and boost your strength and flexibility.

Image via Thinkstock