Cross-country skier Sadie Bjornsen has competed in two Olympic Games -- as has her younger brother, Erik. And the sibling rivalry is real.
"Erik is only 1 1/2 years younger than me, so we have spent our entire life trying to be one step in front of the other," she says. "We have always had an ability to push each other, motivate each other and inspire each other. Growing up, everything was a competition: Who could eat the most food, who could balance longest on the studs as we helped our parents build houses, who could get to the top of the mountain the fastest. There was always a winner, and I wanted to be it."
As elite athletes, they've made the most of it to help each other improve in their sport, often training together in the gym. "We can alternate exercises, encourage each other in the process and even harass each other if we need a kick in the butt to try a little harder," Bjornsen explains.
Here's one partner workout the siblings do together. "I recently learned this exercise from some of the juniors on our team, and I love it (because I hate it)," says Bjornsen. "It gives a great workout for both you and your friend. I have nicknamed this exercise 'The Jumping Bean.' The goal is for both parties to get a full body workout."
The move: The Jumping Bean
How to do it: I do this exercise in one-minute increments. The person in the middle, Erik in this case, does a plank pose, holding it for one minute. The "Jumping Bean" alternates between pushup and jumping over their planking friend. Once we reach a minute, we switch positions. I plank, and Erik is the Jumping Bean. As time goes on, this exercise becomes increasingly difficult.
When I do it: I try to do this exercise each time I go to the gym, generally three sets of one minute in each position, so six minutes total. As a cross-country skier, we visit the gym about twice a week, following a morning aerobic session.
Why I do it: Circuit strength is one of those types of exercises I love but I hate. The beauty of it is that it picks on both the power and endurance part of your muscles. Being in an endurance sport means that we spend a lot of time doing power-endurance type activity.
Why it's so killer: At first, Jumping Bean feels pretty easy, but after burning your core in the plank pose, and working your arms in the pushup section, your legs will also begin to scream, "Help!" My goal is to run through this workout without rest, which generally results in both parties gasping for air by the end.
This move attacks every major muscle group in your body: your core, your legs, your arms and your heart. As a result, your power and strength become stronger, and you will more than likely become a better athlete! For me, it means I will have extra power in my classic stride as I am climbing the final climb on the course, and need to recruit my arms, legs, core, and lungs -- all at one time!