Olympic Hopefuls: A Roundtable Discussion (Part 1)

How exactly do you train for the Olympics? What do you do on a day-to-day basis, in terms of weightlifting, cardio and other training specific to your sport? And what do you eat? Men’s Life Today talked to three U.S. Olympic hopefuls -- all in very different sports, but all of whom are affiliated with the New York Athletic Club -- about how real champions prepare to compete on sport’s biggest stage. These were our participants:

Jake Herbert, wrestler, age 26, born in Naperville, Ill.; 2009 World Freestyle, silver medalist

Seth Kelsey, fencer, age 29, born in Colorado Springs, Colo.; 2010 World Championships, silver medalist

Jarrod Shoemaker, triathlete, age 28, born in Maynard, Mass.; 2008 Olympian, USA Triathlon 2010 Elite National Champion


MLT: Most athletes today do some form of strength training. Can you tell us about your weight-training regimens?

Kelsey: “Pretty typical is three long lifts -- one hour and 45 minutes each session -- on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We do squats, Olympic lifts, single-arm dumbbells, a lot of full-body movements. We always do core -- hanging leg raises and that kind of stuff. Also for fencing, we do a lot of forearm work.”

Herbert: “Right now, we lift three times a week -- Monday, Wednesday and Friday -- for about an hour and a half. We have a strength coach there for us, and it’s all geared toward explosive, fast-twitch muscle fiber stuff. So we’ll do successively heavier sets of front squats, cleans, close grip bench, explosive push-ups off the medicine ball, dead lifts. We also do weighted pull-ups. Our coach wants us to get to the point where we can do them with a 100-pound plate strapped to us.”

Shoemaker: “We’re not doing squats and cleans, or really any traditional weightlifting. As endurance athletes, it’s more focused on enhancing and strengthening the core and on functional flexibility … very discipline-specific movements.”

MLT: What’s the most kick-ass cardio workout you do?

Shoemaker: “We do a really hard, tempo-running workout: 2 x 2 miles with five minutes rest between. Then run a mile [2 miles, five minutes rest, 2 miles, five minutes rest, 1 mile]. I’m getting down below a 4:45 pace.”

Kelsey: “What we call our most terrible circuit workouts: incline sprints, kettle ball swings, push-ups and pull ups. Nonstop, five times.”

Herbert: “We do treadmill sprints: 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds off. And every time we do one, our coach raises the incline. And then ups the speed. We do a total of anywhere from 22 to 40 of these, and at the end, you’re on max incline and running 14 miles per hour for 30 seconds.”

MLT: Sounds like you push yourselves to exhaustion.

Kelsey: “I need to know how my body feels when it’s drop-dead tired. Because any moment of hesitation in my sport and you get hit.”

MLT: So I imagine recovery must be a big issue too.

Herbert: “We drink a recovery shake after each workout, to get the amino acids back in us. I get a lot of sleep. And stretching’s huge!”

Shoemaker: “Massage once a week at least, chiropractic once a week, and I shoot for nine hours of quality sleep a night. That’s the most important thing I do for recovery.”

MLT: Let’s talk nutrition: What’s the breakfast -- and lunch and dinner -- of Olympic champions?

Kelsey: “We do a fairly low-carb diet. No refined carbohydrates -- i.e., no white flour, sugar or potatoes. I don’t think those do anything to enhance your training.”

Herbert: “In college, I was living off of Hot Pockets and ranch dressing. Now, I’m eating a lot of fruits and vegetables.”

Shoemaker: “There’s nothing crazy about our diet. We try to eat fresh and healthy, and stay away from processed foods as much as possible. We have a pretty high percentage of carbs, but protein is one of the best things for rebuilding muscles, so we try to eat plenty of quality proteins too.”

Photos: Courtesy of New York Athletic Club

The No-excuse Guide to Teeth Whitening

If it's true that the first thing a woman notices about a man is his smile, chances are you'd be luckier in love if your teeth didn't resemble tree bark. No matter the culprit -- cigarettes, coffee, inferior genetics -- brown teeth just aren't that sexy. And perhaps you've noticed they aren't quite so common anymore either: According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, teeth whitening has mushroomed from a $1.4 billion industry in 2005 to one worth $14 billion today.

Perhaps you've also noticed that there are now about as many teeth-bleaching methods to choose from as versions of Tide. Sure it’s confusing, but that shouldn’t stop you. We asked Dr. Maryann Lehmann -- a dentist and teeth-whitening expert in Darien, Conn., who holds several patents related to dental tooth color analysis -- to suss out the pros and cons of the various options now available to brighten your mouth. It turns out there’s a workable option for every budget. But before you do anything, she warns, see a hygienist. Whitening solutions can’t be absorbed into teeth caked in layers of nasty plaque.

In-office Whitening

Cost: Approximately $395 per visit

The most effective, immediate and, yes, expensive method for bleaching teeth is by way of an in-chair procedure. You say “Ahh,” and your dentist carefully seals your cheeks, lips and gums before applying a strong concentration of either hydrogen or carbamide peroxide to your fangs. Some offices employ lights or lasers to activate the solution, while others mix in components that kick-start the cleaning. “How the whitening works is that the peroxide is absorbed into the enamel rods,” says Lehmann. “Think of them as a matrix of straws in your teeth. This solution clears them out.” After the 60- to 90-minute procedure, patients may experience some passing sensitivity; in other words, lay off the Haagen-Dazs for a few days. And if your ultimate goal is to achieve a blinding Billy Bush-like smile, you can return to the chair up to three times per month. Say “Cheesy!”

Custom Tray Molds

Cost: Approximately $495 per three weeks of treatment

Unlike one-size-fits-all over-the-counter products (see below), custom trays are actual molds of your teeth that are cast during an in-office visit, and perfectly cover every last molar. “They fit like a glove and give you the most comfort and best isolation so that the solution stays where you want it,” says Lehmann. “They also let you choose the best strength of peroxide for you.” You’ll need to slip on the mouthpiece every night for two consecutive weeks (or longer for seriously gunked-up teeth) to see appreciable results. Incidentally, the younger you are, the faster this all works; younger teeth, it turns out, are more porous and thus easier to flush clean. Sorry, gramps.

Disposable Whitening Strips and Trays

Cost: Approximately $30 to $60 per kit

Taupe. Ochre. Russet. All lovely shades of brown. But if they describe the color of your teeth, and the above methods are out of your budget, head to your local pharmacy. Walk the oral-care aisle, and you’ll find all kinds of cool whitening products offered by trusted brands, like Crest. Of course, as usual, you do get what you pay for. Fact is the bleaching agents in these OTC products are much weaker than those you’d purchase directly from your dentist. But do they work? Unless your teeth resemble Raisinets, yes, they should make them whiter. But keep your expectations in check. “If you must choose, go with trays instead of strips,” says Lehmann. “Strips only cover about six teeth. Trays cover all of your teeth.”

Whitening Toothpastes and Pens

Cost: Approximately $2 to $6 per 6-ounce tube; $10 to $130 per pen

The newest toothpastes and whitening pens boast such breakthroughs as peroxide whitening oxygen bubbles, microbeads and crystals that are supposedly engineered to lift and remove gnarly surface stains from your teeth like some kind of dental ShamWow. Great pitch, only toothpastes and tooth pens can’t penetrate the dentin, the bone-like tissue residing just beneath the enamel. If your dentin is discolored, sorry, but no amount of scrubbing will clean it. “Toothpastes simply are not in contact with the tooth long enough to make an impact,” says Lehmann. Our advice? Save up your tooth-pen money for three months and invest in a disposable tray.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/PeskyMonkey

Comment finir son premier marathon ?

Imaginez-vous foulant le pavé d’une grande ville d’Europe en courant. Vous contrôlez votre corps, ne connaissez pas la peur et vous avez oublié la douleur. Votre but : une ligne d’arrivée situé plusieurs dizaines de km plus loin. Une ligne d’arrivée que peut osent rejoindre en courant et qui vous semblait à vous aussi, à peine quelques semaines plus tôt, impossible à franchir. Pourtant, la foule agglutinée sur les trottoirs vous acclame. Vous êtes devenu un vrai coureur à pied, un homme qui a su maitriser ses émotions et qui avance avec ténacité au rythme de ses propres foulées, les muscles tendus, son esprit fort. La fatigue, la soif, parfois la douleur, tout cela n’est rien. Courir un marathon est une sensation de toute puissance extraordinaire. Vous allez adorer !

La clé de la préparation : avoir envie, très très envie
Commencez dès maintenant par réfléchir aux raisons qui vous poussent vers un tel défi : rester en forme, réduire votre stress, arrêter de fumer ou tout simplement épater vos amis, votre mère ou votre copine… toutes les raisons sont bonnes à prendre. L’important est de ne pas se mentir à soi-même. Car l’épreuve et l’entraînement restent durs. Pour réussir, il faut donc être au clair dans sa tête et en accord avec soi-même. C’est la clé. Une fois déterminé votre raison personnelle, foncez ! Les récompenses seront à la hauteur de votre investissement : plus confiance en soi, un corps mieux dessiné, un mental à toute épreuve, une aura que d’autres vous envieront...

2 mois d’entraînement suffisent
Pour terminer un marathon, une préparation de deux mois suffit, à condition d’être au préalable capable de courir 1h sans vous arrêter. Ensuite, il faudra réaliser 4 sorties par semaines : 3 fois 1 heure en semaine avec un jour de repos entre chaque entraînement et une sortie longue le dimanche, comprise entre 1h30 et 2h30. Pas la peine de courir plus longtemps, vous puiserez trop dans vos réserves et le jour de la course doit rester une expérience nouvelle où vous ne vous êtes jamais aventuré. Augmentez régulièrement la durée de cet entraînement dominical jusqu’à parvenir à 2h30, 3 semaines avant l’événement et réduisez progressivement cette durée pour vous économiser jusqu’au jour J.

La simplicité, c’est la clé
Etant donné que vous allez réaliser un entrainement physiquement et mentalement exigeant, vous devez posséder, ou adopter, une bonne hygiène de vie. Cela veut simplement dire réduire votre consommation de cigarette ou d’alcool, mais également dormir 7-8h par nuit. Il faut aussi manger équilibré, c'est-à-dire de tout, en quantités raisonnables. La veille de course, mangez des sucres lents (pattes, riz, pommes de terre…) et pendant la course, buvez et mangez régulièrement mais peu et ce, dès le premier ravitaillement pour donner du carburant à vos muscles et vous hydrater. Surtout, résistez à la tentation de boire ou de manger beaucoup pour épargner votre estomac.

La ligne de départ : déjà la victoire
Etre sur la ligne de départ d’un marathon signifie que vous êtes en bonne santé, physique et mentale, et que vous n’avez pas craqué devant la répétition et parfois la dureté des entraînements. Peu d’hommes sont capables de se tenir à une telle discipline qui aiguise le corps et l’esprit. Vous êtes déjà un conquérant, bravo.

Marchez !
En marchant de temps en temps pendant le marathon, pour boire par exemple, vous reprendrez des forces mentales et permettrez à votre corps de se régénérer un peu. Faites votre course à votre allure, ne pensez pas aux autres, à ceux qui vous dépassent ou à ceux qui s’écroulent. N’ayez qu’un seul objectif, celui de terminer la course. Restez concentré et oubliez le chrono, il sera toujours temps de vous en occuper la deuxième fois.

Ne jamais abandonner, jamais, c’est la règle
Si vous avez couru 4 fois par semaine pendant 2 mois, cela veut dire que vous êtes en mesure de terminer un marathon. Vos jambes sont lourdes ? Votre estomac vous joue des tours ? Vous vous demandez ce que vous faîtes dans cette galère ? Ne lâchez rien. La différence se fait ici, dans la tête. Serez-vous assez fort ? Serez-vous un battant ? Si vous abandonnez sur un marathon, dites-vous qu’il y a de grandes chances que vous abandonniez dans d’autres domaines de votre vie. Sachez que les mauvais moments finissent toujours par être remplacés par des bons. Et puis personne ne vous a forcé à courir. Soyez un homme ! Assumez votre choix ! Beaucoup de gens sur cette terre rencontrent des difficultés plus grandes que vous à cet instant précis. Pensez à eux et à la chance que vous avez, vous, d’être là sur ce parcours de marathon, prouvant que vous en avez dans le ventre et que ce ne sont pas 42.195 malheureux petits km qui vont vous empêcher de devenir marathonien.

Ça y est, vous avez terminé ? Bravo et bienvenu dans la tribu des marathoniens !

The Making of an Olympian

Most of us never give a passing thought to what it takes to compete in the Olympics. For others, it’s a dream. And for a rare few -- those who dedicate themselves entirely to their sport and to a gruelling training schedule -- it’s a reality. Champion decathlete Dean Macey, owner of Essex-based Dean Macey Fitness, placed fourth at both the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and took home the gold medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games. He told Men’s Life Today exactly what it takes to be the best.

There is arguably no tougher physical trial for an athlete than the Olympic decathlon. It consists of 10 events over two days that test everything from strength to sheer stamina. To get fully conditioned, Macey worked on his body four hours a day for nine months before the competition. He used a seven-day cycle that consisted of six days of intense training -- including running, plyometrics, gymnastics and endless technique drills -- followed by a day off. “The conditioning sessions in the months leading up to the season are really important,” he says. “Even though I’d be struggling by the end of the week, after my day off I’d be up and ready to do it all again.” To get to the Olympics, he adds, you have to physically overload yourself almost every day. “To train for sports like these isn’t good for your body long-term,” he explains. “But it has to be done if you want to compete at that level.”

While training, Macey needed to maintain his weight at around 100 kilos and consume 4,000 to 5,000 calories a day to stay there. He mostly stuck to a balanced nutritional program that consisted of equal amounts of fish, chicken and red meat along with whole-wheat pasta and brown rice. “But I do like to mix up my diet,” he admits. “And I never did take it very seriously because I’ve never had a problem in that department.” If he wanted a burger and chips he would have it -- and his “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” philosophy seems to have served him well. “As long as I was in great shape after the conditioning phase of my training,” he says, “I knew I had the background and the platform to set myself up for a great season.”

According to Macey, there are two types of people who make it to the Olympics. On the one hand are those who have geared their training to getting on the team -- they’re thrilled to be there, but don’t have a real chance of winning a medal. And then there are the others: the most talented athletes in the world. The latter, says Macey, shouldn’t push themselves too far when trying to qualify. “I would aim to do what I needed to, to qualify for selection,” he explains. “You don’t want to go hell-for-leather at that stage and risk injury. So I’d calculate the number of points I needed and shoot for that.” The key, he adds, is to be in good enough shape, but not at your physical peak. “You can only do that once or twice a year and it would be a complete waste of time for a qualifier.” After Macey established himself as Britain’s No. 1 decathlete, he really only had to show selectors that he was fit and in good form to make the team.

Psychology of Winning
Training by yourself is one thing. Competing in a stadium with 100,000 screaming fans is quite another; it’s hard to stay focused and to not think about the other competitors. But on game day, says Macey, the only person he ever thought about was himself. “When you make it to the Olympic Games, all the hard work has been done. There’s no one other than you that can affect your performance,” he explains. “I know where everyone else is strong, I know where they are weak and I know where I’ll need to make my move.” Perhaps most important is doing it for the right reasons. “At the end of the day,” says Macey, “I never competed for medals or money. For me, it was about seeing how good I could be.”

Photo: Getty Images

Skin Care Essentials for Winter

What would be the best place for a dermatologist to open a practice? At the base of one of the valley runs in our Alpine ski resorts. There’s no place on earth where you find more skin problems: sunburn, frostbite, dry skin, even acne from using the wrong cream. We consult with experts on how to avoid these conditions, so that you (and your skin) can enjoy your last skiing trips of the winter, problem-skin free.



It’s a popular mistake to use sun protection only when it’s sunny. “Even in complete fog, you should cream your face”, says Rita Absmeier, owner of the beauty salon Santa Margerita in Munich. At the very least she suggests using a light moisturizer, which usually has a protection factor of 4 to 15.

And if it’s sunny, this obviously won’t be sufficient. The German Industry Association for Skincare (IKW) in Frankfurt recommends a minimum protection factor of 30 to 50, especially when doing winter sports, as snow reflects the dangerous UV radiation. IKW deputy general manager Birgit Huber suggests analyzing your skin before you even enter the slopes. To do so, visit the website http://www.haut.de/service/hauttyp-bestimmung, complete the form about your skin and continue to an online map. Choose your destination and get the necessary protection factor for your individual skin type.

If you’re still not sure, better to err on the high end, Absmeier says. Many people underestimate what the sun can do to you in winter, because your natural skin protection is switched off. If you get sunburned in summer you’ll recognize it immediately, since your skin becomes hot. In the cold you don’t recognize it -- at least not until you enter your hotel. And by then, says dermatologist Dr. Patricia Ogilvie, owner of the private medical clinic Skin Concept in Munich, “It’s too late”. According to Ogilvie, it’s especially important to take care of the “sun terraces” of your face: the nose and upper parts of your ears and lips, which are very exposed to the sun. “On really sunny days forget your vanity and cream those parts with the strongest sun blocker you can find,” advises Ogilvie. “Even if the white color looks funny”.


Unfortunately many creams are greasy and therefore problematic for people with acne. “They block the pores and even help bacteria to grow”, Ogilvie warns, adding that a fat-free emulsion might be your best bet. Make an appointment with a dermatologist and ask him or her about your particular needs. But never ever forego sun care because you’re afraid of breaking out. Inflamed pores and acne scars react sensitively to the sun; without proper care, they rapidly produce brown pigments and become dark spots on your face. Which is really no better than a face full of pimples.


If you don’t apply protective cream in conditions of wind, frost and snow, your skin will cool down rapidly. If it starts to hurt and turn red and/or numb, you have hypothermia. Hypothermia, in turn, rapidly leads to frostbite (recognizable by swelling and very red skin). This is obviously extremely dangerous. Go inside immediately and find a heat source to warm the skin. If that’s not an option, look for some kind of shelter and hold your hands to the affected area to warm it. (If the affected area is your hands, put them in your armpits.) Never ever rub the area with snow. Some guides recommend doing so, but it actually aggravates frostbite.


Dry skin

The cold triggers a host of reactions in the skin: small blood vessels under the skin contract; the surface of the skin gets less oxygen and fewer nutrients and reacts more sensitively; and the sebaceous glands reduce fat production. For all these reasons, skin suffers the most in winter.

IKW expert Huber recommends drinking at least 2.5 liters of water during an average ski day to avoid dehydration, forgoing long baths and showers (since hot water also dries the skin) and using appropriate care products. The richest creams are oil-based -- they’re the thickest, protect best against the cold and help defend the skin against wrinkles, which are fostered by frost. “If you’re looking for the best protection”, says Huber, “look for explicit ‘cold creams’.”

Water-based creams offer fewer protections against the cold, but they still help. The notion that they cause frostbite is a myth, based on the idea that they consist of pure water. If you don’t have cold cream on hand, or if you find it too greasy, water-based creams are better than nothing.