THE SECRET TO A SUCCESSFUL OFF-SEASON
SOME OF AUSTRALIA’S TOP SPORTSMEN ON HOW NOT TO LET THINGS SLIDE OVER THE SUMMER.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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