How to train for the Olympics during a lock-down

Vintage photo of three athletes on the Olympic podium. The middle athlete's head has been replaced with a photo of Penny Tangey.

The Olympics and Paralympics have been postponed until at least 2021. This means we all have an extra year to make the team! Sorry if you were already on the team, but we’re coming for you.

With that in mind, I’ve written a simple three-step plan.


In Australia, we’re still allowed out to exercise, so head to your local park and try some sports. Hit a tennis ball against a wall, run laps, or lie on your tummy on the grass and try to ‘swim’. Now think: Am I doing this better than 99.9% of other people? If the answer is yes, you’ve found your talent. If the answer is no, try another sport. It stands to reason that you will eventually find one you excel at.


Training programs should be tailored to individual sports. On top of these specific recommendations below, most athletes should try to touch their toes at least once a day.

Ball sports

Use your daily exercise time to kick/throw/hit a ball with members of your own household. If you live alone – even better – you will get double the training by kicking/throwing/hitting to yourself.


Ride your bike as fast as you can, imagining the cheers of the crowd.


Run around the park as fast as you can, imagining the cheers of the crowd.

Wheelchair racing

Roll around the park as fast as you can, imagining the cheers of the crowd.


Some see a couch, you see a vault. Some see a stair-rail, you see uneven bars. Don’t hurt yourself.

Shooting / Archery

This is not the time for weapons, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work on your aim. Is there stuff on your floor that should be somewhere else? Pick it up and piff it towards where it’s meant to be. Good luck.


Pools and beaches are closed, but your imagination is boundless. Lie on the floor and open your mind. It will be very difficult to ‘swim’ across the loungeroom, particularly if you have carpet, so when you eventually get back in the real water, you will be even stronger.


Find a wheelie bin. Bring it to the ground.


We should all minimize risky activities to reduce the burden of accidental injuries on our health system. Fortunately, poking sticks at people’s faces never hurt anyone. Do it whenever you like as long as you’re six feet away from your opponent.


Obviously you should pick up heavy stuff and put it back down again. However, it’s been proven that imagining difficult situations can help you deal with real-life difficult situations in the future. So whenever you pick up anything off the floor, act like it’s a big deal.


If you don’t already own a horse it’s a great time to change that, particularly if you live in the city. The roads are practically empty so you can easily take your new steed for a gallop, jumping neatly over street signs and benches.

Rowing / Canoeing

Firstly, there’s no need for a boat. Have you ever seen a dog with worms scooting across the grass? That’s going to be you. Start on the floorboards and move up to asphalt.


Please don’t jump off things. Even if you put a mat underneath the stairs, it’s just too dangerous without water. Instead, use the technique known as ‘horizontal diving’. This method rotates the diving experience by 90 degrees and makes you work harder, because you don’t have the assistance of gravity. Start by lying on the floor, then slither/roll your way across the room, doing the moves you would in a mid-air dive. It uses the exact same muscles apparently.


Sporting events are cancelled, but that doesn’t mean you should let your competitive urge wither. If you live with others, play Monopoly until the bitter end, bankrupting everyone. If you live alone, try to get more Facebook likes than any of your friends.

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