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July 14, 2008

5 Olympic Athletes Share Their Workout Secrets

woman cycling

Kristin Armstrong, Cycling

Photo Credit: M. Melville/Getty Images

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Kristin Armstrong (pictured on the next page) is used to being mistaken for someone else—the ex-wife of a certain seven-time Tour de France winner. But since she started racking up her own impressive victories—including the 2006 World Time Trial Championships—Armstrong, 34, has made a name for herself as the woman to beat in Beijing. Just call her "K-Strong."

Armstrong trains in three-week blocks of increasing intensity—16 to 25 hours a week on her bike—followed by an easier recovery week. During long Idaho winters, the Boise local heads to the mountains for snowshoeing and Nordic skate-skiing.

Twice a week, Armstrong uses her bike as her mobile weight room: She shifts into a high-resistance gear and does 20 to 45 minutes of low-cadence drills to work quads, glutes, and hamstrings.

Armstrong sweats through two Bikram yoga classes a week. Trikonasana, or triangle pose, keeps her limber (she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in 2001), and the room's 90-plus-degree heat helps her acclimate to humid race locales—like Beijing.

During especially hard races, Armstrong talks to herself to stay focused and push through the pain. "I'll ask myself, Can you hurt any more? And then I'll say, You have to hurt harder."

Invest in a bike that fits, get a comfortable saddle (she loves her Fizik), and cycle with a group whenever possible. "Try not to be intimidated," she says. "Most important, have fun."

Next Page: Natalie Coughlin, Swimming

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