How Athletes Prepared for the Olympic Games

The Tokyo Olympic Games happened and the players' preparation was put to the test. What have they done over the years to be the best?
How Athletes Prepared for the Olympic Games

Last update: 19 August, 2021

The Olympic Games in Tokyo took place in July and August 2021, as the organizers held the event they had to suspend last year. Many athletes eagerly awaited the moment to participate but it required special preparation.

This is because training for weekly competitions isn’t the same as training for a long-term goal. Some athletes prepared for the Olympic Games for at least four or five years. It required commitment and discipline.

Today’s article will analyze what the various players who’ll participate in the Olympic Games must do in preparation for it. We’ll look at it both nutritionally and mentally, as these are key to sustaining a high performance among the best of the best.

The nutrition of athletes preparing for the Olympic Games

Competing at an Olympic level implies a higher demand. The best of each country in certain disciplines come together in the same place to make records that will go down in history.

The national Olympic teams prepare over the years using special diets that are appropriate for their training routines. Thus, they plan the meals that they’ll have at the competition site.

A classic nutrition routine followed by many athletes consists of dividing the intake of substances according to the moment. That is, they decide the number of carbohydrates, proteins, and dietary fiber that they’ll have according to the usual preparation, the efforts of taking part, and moments of rest.

In short, it goes as follows:

  • Normal training is when athletes prepare for the Olympic Games from a physically sustaining perspective. That is they eat 1/3 of carbohydrates, 1/3 of proteins, and 1/3 of fiber.
  • Training and exerting higher effort during demanding weeks or sessions require a higher intake of carbs and proteins. The former is the fuel for muscle function and the latter contribute to tissue regeneration and healing.
  • Finally, they lower the intake of carbs when it’s time to rest and counteract fatigue so as not to increase body weight. They eat more fruits and vegetables to provide dietary fiber to their body.
An athlete preparing for the Olympics.
Sports nutrition is a booming specialty commonly used with Olympic athletes.

What about fats?

Olympic athletes can eat dishes that contain good quality fats, don’t affect cardiovascular performance, and are easy to digest.

In the context of respecting the aforementioned guidelines, the momentary and sporadic inclusion of fats doesn’t affect the objectives too much. These don’t pose a problem as long as they don’t stimulate excessive gastric movements.

The psychological preparation of Olympics athletes

Mental health is as important as the physical when participating in this event. As you can imagine, negative thoughts and a lack of motivation can ruin years of physical preparation.

This is why it’s customary to have sports psychologists in the teams. In fact, these professionals are in charge of constantly evaluating the state of mental health of the athletes. They also help them overcome frustrations or moments of uneasiness.

There are clear differences between individual and team sports. The mental work consists of challenging themselves in the former, taking into account their limitations and the possibilities of reaching new ground. In teams, there’s also the question of interpersonal relationships and how they can affect a challenge.

The case of players who don’t fully dedicate themselves to sports is no less important. It may seem incredible, but they can’t support themselves in many countries just by playing at the highest level. This is why many athletes must also have a job to do too.

Of course, this adds to the stress as they must combine training with their other responsibilities. Furthermore, there may also be anxiety in the months prior to the event due to the lack of adequate funding to cover the trip and the stay in the Olympic Village — in the worst-case scenario.

Routine, routine, routine

The players’ nutrition and mental preparation for the Olympic Games are part of a routine. Elite athletes have a special discipline that allows them to organize their lives around training.

Other occupations, meal schedules, adequate rest, and high or low-intensity sessions make up the schedule to arrive at the Olympics in the best possible way. There’s no other way to get to the top. As you can imagine, the schedule is sometimes set four or five years in advance.

Every category has training secrets for improvement. There are also keys to promote muscle regeneration and avoid injuries that may delay progress towards the goals.

This implies sacrifices. Many players give up outings, social gatherings, meetings, and trips they would’ve liked to make in preparation for the Olympic Games. However, it’s a price they’re willing to pay to be the best they can be.

Two men training.
Routines are constant in preparation for the Olympics.

Preparing isn’t the same as actually participating

The Olympic Games began and the athletes stopped preparing. Tokyo hosted the Games in 2021 and everyone found their moments of truth.

Nutrition, mental clarity, sleep hygiene, strenuous routines… everything summed up in a few days that are always historic. So, who do you think prepared the best?

It might interest you...
Para-Olympian Marieke Vervoort Opts for Euthanasia
Step To HealthRead it in Step To Health
Para-Olympian Marieke Vervoort Opts for Euthanasia

After being diagnosed with a degenerative muscular disease at an early age, she found her life in sports. However, Marieke Vervoort opts for euthan...



  • Abdelhamid AS, Brown TJ, Brainard JS, Biswas P, Thorpe GC, Moore HJ, Deane KH, Summerbell CD, Worthington HV, Song F, Hooper L. Omega-3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 Feb 29;3(2):CD003177. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003177.pub5. PMID: 32114706; PMCID: PMC7049091.
  • Rooney D, Jackson RC, Heron N. Differences in the attitudes to sport psychology consulting between individual and team sport athletes. BMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil. 2021 Apr 29;13(1):46. doi: 10.1186/s13102-021-00271-7. PMID: 33926527; PMCID: PMC8082635.
  • Leiva-Arcas A, Vaquero-Cristóbal R, Abenza-Cano L, Sánchez-Pato A. Performance of high-level Spanish athletes in the Olympic Games according to gender. PLoS One. 2021 May 6;16(5):e0251267. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0251267. PMID: 33956856; PMCID: PMC8101945.
  • Oblinger-Peters V, Krenn B. “Time for Recovery” or “Utter Uncertainty”? The Postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Through the Eyes of Olympic Athletes and Coaches. A Qualitative Study. Front Psychol. 2020 Dec 22;11:610856. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.610856. PMID: 33414751; PMCID: PMC7782479.