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July 14, 2008

5 Olympic Athletes Share Their Workout Secrets

women doing tae kwon do

Diana Lopez, Tae Kwon Do

Photo Credit: P. Marcou/Getty Images

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For Diana Lopez, 24, going to Beijing is a family affair. Her brothers Mark, 26, and two-time Olympic gold medalist Steve, 29, will also be competing; a third brother, Jean, 34, will be coaching her ringside. "It's comforting to know that I'll have people around me whom I love and trust," says Lopez, who started sparring when she was 6, occasionally with her siblings.

Beginning two months before competition, Lopez—who lives in Houston—practices tae kwon do five days a week for two hours a day. She also works in six hours of plyometrics, footwork drills, and weight training; a Bikram yoga class; and three 30-minute jogs a week.

When Lopez wants fast results, she combines speed intervals with plyometrics: three sets of 10 reps of jumping on and off a raised step, with 10 seconds of uphill sprinting on a treadmill between each set. "I love the strength and explosiveness it gives me in matches."

After each practice, Lopez lies on her back while Jean leads her through a 10-minute visualization of mock fights or upcoming matches, such as her Olympic debut.

At 5-foot-10 and 132 pounds, Lopez had to drop to 125 pounds to qualify for the featherweight division. After narrowly missing the 2004 Olympic team, she cut junk food and fast food from her diet and learned to subsist on oatmeal, fruit, lean protein, and greens. "You have to listen to your body," she says. "Now I feel so much faster in competition."

Because she competes barefoot, Lopez swears by Sephora Body Scrub for keeping calluses at bay. "And I love getting pedis!"

Next Page: Julie Swail Ertel - Triathlon

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