If you've been watching the 2008 Beijing Olympics, you've noticed the lean, muscular physiques of many of the athletes. It seems as though many of the athletes are leaner and more muscular now than in previous Olympics.
Certain athletes show up to the Olympics always appearing lean and muscular such as the male gymnasts, short- and middle-distance sprinters, many of the track and field athletes and the lightweight to middleweight weightlifters and wrestlers.
However, many of the athletes that are not normally as lean and muscular have come to this year's Olympics looking like super men and women. Look no further than Michael Phelps or Dara Torres. Michael Phelps has dominated the Olympics winning 8 gold medals while breaking Mark Spitz's record from 1972. The commentators have mentioned several times that he has ripped abs and muscular physique. Dara Torres, at 41, is leaner and more muscular than those competing against her, including some who are 25 years younger!
The one thing Michael Phelps and Dara Torres have in common is that they have included weight training in their routines in the recent past to prepare for this year's Olympics. They have found the benefits of strength training and it shows not only in their performances but also in their muscular and lean physiques.
Something you may find interesting is that Olympic weightlifters typically never perform any traditional cardio (try a few sets of snatches or clean and jerks and you'll find out why), yet, they tend to be muscular, lean and have very strong cardiovascular systems and incredible power. In fact, Olympic weightlifters tend to be more powerful and explosive than sprinters within the first 10 yards (and they have incredible vertical jumping ability).
If you look at the weightlifters in the lightweight through middleweight classes, almost all of them are very lean and muscular (It's just too bad that the super heavyweights are the ones typically featured in primetime). How do they get like that without cardio? Weight training and nutrition.
Gymnasts don't train with weights, however, they train using bodyweight exercises through many different ranges of motion; static, dynamic, eccentric, isometric, etc. This builds muscle and incredible strength. Gymnasts don't perform cardio, but they do perform short sprints (vault) and they stay strong, lean and muscular.
Compare the short-distance sprinters (100-400m), pole vaulters and hurdlers (60-110m) to long-distance athletes (1,500m or more), and you'll quickly see the difference in their physiques. The sprinters, pole vaulters and hurdlers are lean and muscular. The longer-distance athletes may be somewhat lean (especially at Olympic and professional levels), but they are not as lean and nowhere near as muscular as the sprinters, pole vaulters and hurdlers.
Sprinters, pole vaulters and hurdlers also train with weights and don't perform any long-distance cardio. Many of them don't ever sprint more than 200-400m in their training, and usually they sprint much shorter distances depending on their particular sport.
It should be clear to you by now that strength training is the key to building a lean, muscular physique. You don't have to be an Olympic athlete to get the body you want. And you don't have to perform traditional, steady-state or long-distance cardio to lose fat or stay lean. A proper nutritional plan and strength training program will help you build a lean, muscular, healthy physique.
What's holding you back?