Everybody wants to be as fit as an athlete. But what it really takes is hard work, determination and dedication to actually achieve those fitness goals.
In my career spanning 20-odd years as a fitness professional, I have trained various kinds of people who come to me with different fitness goals in mind. But even today, training a sportsperson is the most enjoyable experience.
Be it cricketers of the Hyderabad Ranji team, national level swimmers, women cricketers like Sunita, who represent India in women’s cricket or badminton player Ashwini Ponnappa, who is part of India’s badminton team at the Olympics — sportspersons are truly some of my fittest, and most inspiring clients.
The reason? They are not driven by fitness fads or the desire to achieve a body like some celebrity. What they want is a truly fit, strong and chiselled body. They want to work on their stamina, strength and agility, and they are dedicated enough to work hard to meet these goals while following a balanced diet. That’s what being fit is all about.
Thanks to the Olympics, ‘athletic’ is the buzz word again. Everyone wants to look sporty, never mind if they’ve not touched a bat or a raquet since high school. Shapely, yet strong legs and arms, a strong back, the gait of a sportsperson, and a firm midriff — these top the wishlist of both men and women these days. So what does it take to snag a sportstar’s fit body?
The answer is loads of cardio, core training, strength training, stretches, and of course, a balanced diet. You can divide your regime into four categories.
If there’s one thing that sets an athlete apart from the rest, it’s his/her stamina. Unless you have enough stamina to last an entire session, it’s difficult to reach your fitness goals.
For starters, gauge your stamina level. If you can climb three floors of a building without going out of breath, your stamina is reasonably good. You can up your stamina levels by including cardio exercises to your work out plan.Start at a level that’s comfortable, and gradually increase the intensity while reducing the time taken to complete that task.
The basic and best way to build stamina is to jog for two minutes and follow it up by sprinting for two minutes. You can increase the time by three-four minutes. Alternatively, you can also do ‘knee up running’ — jog in one spot, bringing your knees up to waist level followed by bringing your heels to the hips. For more intensity, you can include kangaroo jumps — while jumping, pull your knees towards the chest.
If you are an outdoors person, set goals and push yourself to meet them. If you are able to walk the perimeter of KBR Park in, let’s say, 40 minutes set a target to finish it in 30.
A strong core is imperative to an athletic body. To train your core muscles, do basic crunches, double crunches, alternate crunches, reverse sit-ups and scissors. These will strengthen your upper abs, middle abs, lower abs and obliques. To work on your lower abs strenghten your glutes, and do basic lower back training. The Good Mornings and Surya Namaskars are your best bets.
It’s important to include weight training to your regime in order to gain strength. Stick to basic exercises for best results — military presses for shoulders, weight squats and lunges for the legs, dead-lift for the back and hamstrings, barbell curls for biceps, overhead extensions for triceps, bend over rowing for the upper back, and flat bench presses for the chest. Don’t forget to use body weight training, like chin-ups, push-ups, tricep dips, free squats etc. For strong legs, do squats, lunges, leg curls and calf raises.
It’s the most important part of training, both before and after, to avoid injuries and help the muscles recover.
Throw all those crash-diet cut-outs out of the window and follow a balanced diet. Apart from drinking plenty of water, make sure you have these must-haves in your diet — carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, fats, vitamins and minerals.
Remember, bigger muscles always support smaller muscles, so to have strong knees strengthen your quads and hamstrings. For a strong back, strengthen glutes. Reaching your goal should be a passion, not an obsession so don’t go overboard. It takes time, patience, hard work and perseverance.
Note: Consult your physician and discuss your medical history with your trainer.
The writer is a fitness expert