Q&A With Sochi-Bound Olympian Billy Demong

The Olympic winter games are just around the corner. The Sochi stage is being set and while the athletes are focused on gold, we'll tell you how they plan on getting there. In August we had the chance to speak with Billy Demong, the four-time Olympian and USANA Health Sciences Brand Ambassador.

Demong is no stranger to the Olympics; Sochi will be his fifth appearance at the winter games. In 2010 he was the first American in 86 years to take the gold in Nordic skiing. In the same Olympic games, he anchored the U.S. Nordic relay team, which resulted in a silver medal. Since then he has been training for Sochi, and in August he let us in on his training regimen, diet and go-to gear.

The Active Times: What are ski-specific exercises you can do to get back in shape after the off season?
Billy Demong: At the Olympic level, there's essentially no off season. I take maybe two weeks off, but stay pretty active when I get home in the spring—alpine skiing and riding my bike. Through the spring, weather permitting, I really like backcountry skiing that's up hill. Probably the hardest thing about getting back in shape is lifting weights. Going back and getting that foundation of strength is really the hardest part. You're going to get sore and you're going to have to push your limits back up on the strength side. That's what I find is most important, having proper recovery as I get into more heavy strength in the spring. So making sure I'm always topped off when it comes to vitamins and nutrition right after workouts allows me to get back into the swing of it quicker.

From an endurance stand point, it's really important to build a foundation by slowly upping your mileage or time or distance over a long period of time so you don't get frustrated; and the same thing in the weight room. Start with more reps, lighter weights, so you minimize the soreness to some extent before you start getting heavier and heavier. Having good nutrition helps you stay on task with daily exercise. That's what important is taking steps forward in your fitness is having some consistency. Making sure you're topped off with nutrition. It helps your brain enjoy what you're doing more, rather than getting sore and then taking a few days off.

Describe a typical week in your pre-Olympic training regimen.
We have macro- and micro-cycles and they tend to go in fours. Each month: a medium week with medium strength, a harder week, a really hard week, and a recovery week. It also goes by months: a medium month, harder month, hardest month, recovery month. We do this in four year cycles. The year after the Olympics, we're doing less volume and more intensity. During the week at this time of year: six cardio workout (three high intensity), two or three session of jumping on the ski jump, three or four strength session in the weight room (two core training, two heavy strength/lifting and then plyometrics as we get closer).

Approximately how many calories do you have to eat
I probably average around 4,000 a day. I don't usually change what I eat based on how I train. I keep it on an even keel and listen to my body.

What are your favorite pre- and post-competition rituals?
I really stay away from what I would call rituals. I like to define what I do as routine. I feel like rituals can be defined more as something you do, but there's no tangible evidence it works whereas routines are tried and true and sustainable. In terms of stretching and nutrition and the products I take. My routines are very central to my competitions and training. I like to foam roll daily and especially on competitions—a series of foam rolling specific stretches, things that activate certain muscles for ski jumping and cross country. I do it all at the hotel or at the house before a competition and then right before I leave I like to take a short shower and alternate hot and cold to get everything invigorated and flushed. Then when I go to the venue, I'm already ready. I don't do a lot of warming up when I get to the venue, just a few explosive sprints and plyometrics.

Name your 3 favorite/most reliable/wouldn't go out without pieces of winter gear
I've always got a coffee press. smart wool compression socks (long day or driving), smart wool wind briefs, race glasses (photocromatic, helps in the evening when it's getting darker) Oakley radar lock XL.

What's been your biggest sacrifice in preparation for the Games? 
Time away from my family. It's hard to travel for a month at a time when you have a two-and-a-half-year-old and a wife at home. We Skype fairly often and he's getting to the point where postcards will be a lot of fun.