THE SE­CRET TO A SUC­CESS­FUL OFF-SEA­SON

SOME OF AUS­TRALIA’S TOP SPORTS­MEN ON HOW NOT TO LET THINGS SLIDE OVER THE SUM­MER.

GQ (Australia) - - INSIDE GQ - WORDS MIKE CHRIS­TENSEN

Cham­pagne break­fasts, rooftop par­ties, nightly cel­e­bra­tory drinks for the sake of them, canapés that are fre­quent and too of­ten slid­ers – oh, it’s the silly sea­son, all right, a pe­riod that puts willpower to the wall, when even the most well-worn fit­ness rou­tines can hit some se­ri­ous shade. So, just how do you stay in shape dur­ing the busiest, most en­joy­able and – frankly – thor­oughly overindul­gent time of the year? We spoke to some of the coun­try’s lead­ing sports­men to glean in­valu­able in­sights on how they han­dle things in the off-sea­son – while con­stantly main­tain­ing an eye on the hard yards ahead. THE MOOD

What­ever your job, when Christ­mas hits, a well-earned break is a de­served ne­ces­sity. And sports­men are no dif­fer­ent – re­quir­ing time off, both phys­i­cally and men­tally, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the emo­tional toll at­tached to a sea­son. “It’s a long year phys­i­cally [Fe­bru­ary to De­cem­ber], but rep­re­sent­ing your state or coun­try is a thrill that you’ll put your body through any­thing for,” says Phipps. Ziebell agrees: “Everyone enjoys a hol­i­day, time to get away and see the world. It’s a long year so you need to en­joy your break.” In­ter­est­ingly, Kelly says come the end of the sea­son, his train­ing be­comes more fo­cused on main­tain­ing the base fit­ness he has and mo­bil­ity to help minimise in­jury. Such train­ing, he adds, also helps him un­wind at the end of a long, tough year. “Spending time com­pletely re­moved from my sport en­ables me to come back fresh,” he says. “I like to spend time with the fam­ily and I en­joy wake­board­ing on the Mur­ray River.” THE HARD YARDS

We all aspire to have ripped beach bod­ies for sum­mer so, in theory, we train hard­est in win­ter. But what about pro­fes­sional sports­men, when do they train hard­est, and how can their work­out pro­gram trans­late to mere mor­tals? “Pre-sea­son [ Jan­uary-fe­bru­ary] is so im­por­tant be­cause you’ll be car­ry­ing those months with you through­out the rest of the year,” says Phipps. “It’s the only real time in the year that you can get a solid block to get the im­prove­ments that you want to use dur­ing the sea­son. “It’s also im­por­tant to read your own body and ac­knowl­edge when you need some ex­tra work in dif­fer­ent ar­eas and move things around to make sure you im­prove [on] those de­fi­cien­cies. Then in the sea­son, it’s more about main­tain­ing core fit­ness.”

For Ziebell, pre-sea­son brings test and re­ward: “It’s about train­ing hard aer­o­bi­cally and anaer­o­bi­cally and not wor­ry­ing too much about fa­tigue. Then, dur­ing the sea­son, on game day, we can put in all our ef­fort.” Adds Dangerfield: “In pre-sea­son we ba­si­cally em­u­late a game with the run­ning ac­cu­mu­la­tion, just with less con­tact.”

THE RUN­NING GAME Peo­ple see go­ing for a run as good ex­er­cise, par­tic­u­larly as a some­what easy sum­mer op­tion. Day­light sav­ing makes am­bling along well into the evening a less ar­du­ous task – so too, warmer weather con­di­tions, should you be a morn­ing per­son. Still, get­ting the most out of hit­ting the foot­path comes down to drive and in­ten­sity. “Run­ning’s es­sen­tial, but strong gains are only made if you re­ally push your­self,” says Dangerfield. “Any­one can jog, but only you know just how hard you’re go­ing.” Phipps adds: “We are lucky to be able to en­joy the weather and safety we have in such a great coun­try to get out and about out­side. That makes run­ning such a solid base to build other types of ses­sions on to.” As for Ziebell, he sees it as “the best type of ex­er­cise, as you use plenty of mus­cle groups and burn plenty of en­ergy”. Kelly, how­ever, has a prob­lem with pound­ing the pave­ment. “You can go for a run while think­ing about some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent, which is a bad trait for me. We have to train our body and mind at the same time, so that while we are in the car un­der phys­i­cal pres­sure we per­form well men­tally si­mul­ta­ne­ously.”

HOL­I­DAY EX­ER­CISES

Have a few to do ev­ery morn­ing, just to keep things tick­ing along – even in a ho­tel room. For Phipps, that means push-ups: “A few of the boys in the team are try­ing to do 100 a day on tour, which is en­ter­tain­ing when you walk into the shared room.” He also of­fers some ad­vice on keep­ing a dad­bod at bay. “Dips on the bed or chair are good for the chest and shoul­ders and do­ing band­work for the shoul­ders and bi­ceps should keep you in shape while trav­el­ling.” Dangerfield also keep things sim­ple – sets of planks into push-ups and a daily walk. Ziebell elab­o­rates on the theme, say­ing, “The ma­jor­ity of core ex­er­cises that we do, you can do just about any­where – these in­clude plank­ing, push-ups for your chest and dips for your tri­ceps.” It’s fa­mil­iar to Kelly’s out­put. “It might sound a bit weird from the room next door, but I do a bit of a mini-cir­cuit in my ho­tel room, util­is­ing my body weight and a re­sis­tance band.”

HOL­I­DAY DIET

If there’s ever a time of year to be granted per­mis­sion to eat any­thing you wish, it’s on hol­i­day. And we’re pleased to hear the same rule ap­plies to sports­men. “We get such short hol­i­days that it’s not a bad time to have a few cheat days/ weeks,” says Phipps. “You know that you’re head­ing straight back into pre-sea­son, so it’s fine to carry a few ex­tra skin­folds.” Ziebell also be­lieves in en­joy­ing what’s on of­fer. “For two weeks you can have guilty plea­sures be­fore hav­ing to think about what you are putting in your body,” he says. Kelly agrees: “Eat­ing any­thing I want flushes out any de­sire to eat rub­bish food [again], and gets me mo­ti­vated to eat well and be­gin train­ing for the fol­low­ing sea­son.”

GUILTY PLEA­SURES

We all have them, so let’s just be hon­est about them. Es­pe­cially given Kelly, Dangerfield and Phipps out them­selves as choco­holics. “The ‘night be­fore the game’ choco­late,” chimes the Wal­laby of his main­tained de­sire for the good stuff. “You have to treat your­self within the week and it gives you some­thing to hold out for.” Ziebell claims a true blue Aussie (off-sea­son) vice: “A cou­ple of froth­ies at the pub, fol­lowed by a big fat chicken parma.” Happy hol­i­days, keep fit and re­mem­ber to en­joy a break and al­low your­self to in­dulge a lit­tle – big fat chicken parma op­tional. can­ter­burynz.com.au; gopro.com

“IT’S ABOUT TRAIN­ING HARD AER­O­BI­CALLY AND AN AERO BIALLY AND NOT WOR­RY­ING TOO MUCH ABOUT FA­TIGUE. THEN, DUR­ING THE SEA­SON, ON GAME DAY, WE CAN PUT IN ALL OUR EF­FORT.”

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY CHARLES DENNINGTON

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