We'll admit it: we're pretty excited that Olympian athletes, coupled with a healthy competitive spirit, will be dominating our TV screens and digital streams this summer. Whether your Olympics fever is driven by patriotism, a simple appreciation of sport, or the heart-warming tales of underdogs overcoming all odds, you may be motivated to try your hand at a new competitive sport. If that is the case, we have compiled the best products and equipment for you to let inspiration run wild; you too can train like an Olympian.
Cycling: Whether you're more the BMX type, a rugged mountain biker, or all about the speed and agility of road and track cycling, there's an Olympic cycling style for you. While Track Cycling may be the longest-standing event (it's been at every Olympics except one since the first modern games), some prefer an actual destination, as opposed to circling an indoor track.
For those speed demons, we recommend road bikes, which are light and built for speed. If you're more interested in the fitness component than the travel, an exercise bike is the perfect way to train for your Olympic glory indoors. Prefer ease to speed? Check out a comfort bike instead. For something a little more fresh and young, check out Mountain Biking, which has only been an Olympic sport since 1996. Yep, that just might mean you've still got time to perfect your mountain biking and make it to the Olympics before the sport heats up too much. Just don't forget a helmet!
Weightlifting: If you're looking for pure drama, check out Olympic weightlifting, where you can bet at least one grown man will cry, there will be a lot of grunting, and people will drop hundreds of pounds from over five feet, repeatedly. Despite the theatrics, the rules are simple: lift heavier weights than anyone else. Inspired to give it a shot?
Don't make like U.S. favorite Holly Mangold (sister to New York Jets' center Nick Mangold) and try to lift over 300 pounds. Beginners are better off starting with standard dumbbells at home. If you're more committed to strength-training, a home gym might be a good option, but remember this equipment only makes financial sense if you use it frequently.
Boxing: While the word "boxing" might call to mind the images of bruised and bloodied men circling a ring, women are getting their own Olympic boxing competition for the first time ever this year. Marlen Esparza, a 22-year-old featherweight, may be the U.S.'s best hope of medaling in the first women's Olympic boxing competition. She is one of the best-known amateur boxers in the U.S. and a repeat National Champion. But women shouldn't get all the attention here. Some of the biggest names in U.S. boxing--Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, to name a couple--are former Olympians.
Male or female, training like a boxer can be a great way to get in-shape. While we don't recommend actually getting repeatedly punched in the face, Billy Blanks Tae Bo Amped, one of our Best Reviewed Exercise Videos, can get your heart pumping and challenge you to some new moves.
Track and Field: Officially referred to as "Athletics" at the Olympics, track and field events include everything from throwing to running to jumping--a total of nearly 50 events with over 2,000 competitors. This year, four Americans are gold medal alums of the 2008 Olympics--competitors in discus, 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles, and 400-meter sprint--returning to defend their titles.
Want to get your head in the game? You'll need to gear up with the perfect shoe. Running shoes are the go-to option for most types of running and should be specifically selected for the natural shape of your foot. If you're more of an outdoorsy marathoner, trail running shoes are a better bet, though. They offer better protection, traction, and support. Or course, there's no need to feel forced into the great outdoors. If you more the AC type, you can always train on a treadmill. For the ladies looking to really fit in with the Olympians, you already know sports bras are practically the only acceptable outfit, so you'll want to stock-up before you start training.