While all of us are not likely to have the genetics, upbringing or dedication needed to compete at the Olympic level, here are 5 things that we can learn from the training required to win at the highest level of sports competition.
We learn: Progression in training is needed to give us an awesome physique.
Gymnasts don't spend much time in a typical gym setting. They use mostly their own bodyweight.
This is the majority of what gymnasts do for hours each day for years on end. The reason they are able to get these bodies (despite not spending much time in the gym) is that their body weight exercises are done in extremely difficult positions which get progressively harder as they get better, and they are done in a great variety of angles and tempos (sometimes they move fast and sometimes they move slow).
Most people use exercises that are too easy, and do not vary their tempos or angles much.
2. Track Sprint Cycling
We learn: Basic strength carries over into every sport.
Here is a video of 2012 olympic track cycling bronze medalist Robert Foerstemann (and 2010 world champ). Yes, its in German, but the weights are still heavy, and in every sport where there is a strength requirement, the stronger athlete greatly improves their chances of winning. Strength improves all other physical qualities like endurance, flexibility, power and speed. And it doesn't work the other way around so no matter what sport you play, make sure your strength is sufficient for that sport.
We learn: Only super high amounts of training can overcome a very high caloric food intake.
Swimmers routinely train for 4-6 hours per day of continuous activity. And that's why when we see things like Michael Phelp's 12,000 calorie per day diet only he can handle it. The rest of us who are sedentary except for a short swim or gym session 3-4 times per week (on a good week!) need to keep food type and amounts in check. Even Olympians who are in less aerobic sports which don't have such long training hours, such as weightlifting usually take in only about 3000-4000 calories of quality food each day.
4. Weightlifting/Judo/Wrestling etc
We learn: The most impressive men's performances come in the middleweight classes
This is because from sports science studies, the best strength to weight ratios happen in the 65-85kg range of weight classes. So these guys often give the best balance between speed and strength in the world that we can see in action. I personally find these weight categories the most fun to watch because of the pure athletic ability and all-roundedness of the competitors in these weight classes.
We learn: Divers have great abs
While this might seem a little superficial, there is no doubt that they do. This is because diving (along with gymnastics) where the abs do not perform their "normal role" of being a support muscle for transferring load between the lower and upper body. In sports where you are flying around in the air, the abs become the main force generating muscles, so its no surprise that divers as a group have excellent abdominal development even if they are skinny in other parts of their body.