Extreme gym: how to train like an athlete

extreme gym - how to train like an athleteIt takes a lot more than a couple of lunges and bench-presses at the gym to train like an elite athlete.

For a genuine Olympic-style experience, why not try exposing your body to -120 degree temperatures, running on thin-air, or cycling at a simulated altitude of 8,500ft?

All three of these specialist (and rather expensive) activities are endured regularly by world-class athletes such as Paula Radcliffe, Mo Farah and various sports teams in order to stretch the boundaries of what has so far been deemed humanly possible.


From the Greek ‘cryo’, meaning cold, cryotherapy is a form of therapy designed to decrease joint inflammation, ease muscle pain and boost the healing process after exercise. It involves standing in a ‘cryotherapy chamber’, which sounds more like a torture device than revolutionary sport equipment. The process also seems more like torture than cutting-edge therapy: the air inside the chamber drops to an extremely cold temperature, exposing the user to -120C for up to 10 minutes to trigger a release of serotonin and cleanse the body of any damage or pain inflicted by sports injury.

You can try cryotherapy at the BMI Garden Hosptial in London, or find out more by reading our Cryotherapy blog.

Anti gravity treadmill

Looking suspiciously like something from Kubrick’s Space Odyssey, the anti gravity treadmill utilises a pressure lifting force which allows the user to run on just 20% of their usual body weight, removing the strain usually exerted on joints, muscles and bones while running. Athlete Paula Radcliffe once described the machinery as the best investment she’d ever made.

The anti gravity treadmill helps athletes increase their leg speed and training volume.

You can try this very elite form of exercise for £100 per 300 minutes. Or, for a cheaper alternative, you could try water aerobics, which is thought to produce a similar effect.

Hypoxic chamber

Altitude training is a popular way for athletes to push their bodies to higher levels of fitness by enhancing their ability to breathe in and transport oxygen around the body. One Olympic trainee, Jonathan Brownlee, is currently sleeping in an ‘altitude tent’ in the Rift Valley to prepare for the upcoming triathlon.

However, for those who don’t wish to trek thousands of feet up a mountain, there is always the ‘hypoxic chamber’. The hypoxic chamber simulates an altitude of 8,500ft by removing most of the oxygen in the air. Athletes use the chamber to cycle, run and row to push the boundaries of their own capabilities.

Many therapies are designed to treat the body before and after particularly intense work outs. To find out more about the physical benefits of therapy and to investigate the different therapies available, please visit our Therapy Topics page and browse subjects.

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Written by Zoe Thomas

Written by Zoe Thomas

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