How to train like an elite athlete
Ever wanted to run the New York Marathon or climb Everest but shoved it in the ‘never going to actually happen’ part of your brain? Well, putting your body under extreme duress could actually be the best way to get you there.
Ice baths and 5000m high altitude spin classes – sounds like the stuff of nightmares but if you’re looking to take your workout from average Joe to elite athlete, it might just be time to face the fear.
Yes, extreme training is officially ‘in’ and Melbourne’s already racing to get chill … literally.
Tom Allwright, a Melbourne-based PT and director of ProSport Health and Fitness (also a former Geelong player) has brought technology, usually reserved for the AFL A-list, to the public domain.
And it could be the answer to making those fit bucket list dreams a reality.
“People here in Melbourne are exposed to elite athletes all the time but they’ve never had anywhere to go to train like them,” says Allwright. “So by offering facilities like altitude chambers and ice baths means they too can skyrocket their performance and fitness goals.”
Can’t think of anything worse than plunging into an artic pool voluntarily? What about a stagnant workout routine? If you’ve been flowing through the motions but not getting anywhere, a cold reality shock with peers could be the very thing to get you ticking goals.
“It almost feels like a little footy club – it’s very unique training so you form friendships with people in a short time,” says Allwright. And it’s proving popular. “We’ve seen a massive increase in numbers now it’s more accessible. It’s definitely doubled in numbers since early days.”
So how exactly do cold baths and less oxygenated rooms work to boost performance?
“The room is sealed and adapted to take the air from outside from a 21 per cent oxygen to 14 degree oxygen level. When this happens you have to adapt to the altitude and become more efficient at breathing in oxygen – which leads to losing weight, becoming fitter and working your body 20 times harder to keep your hard efforts up,” says Allwright.
So those Everest goals? Absolutely achievable with a little altitude training. “We take trips to Everest or Kilimanjaro and build the altitude up to 5000m to acclimatise people and build their red blood cells up,” says Allwright.
But even for those keen to build their fitness minus the mountain feat, it works just the same, says Allwright. “We do circuits and spin classes in there – so while it’s designed for trekking everyone can get the benefits.”
- Workout with Tom for free on Bodypass
And as for dunking your torso in an ice bath? It’ll work like magic if you’re keen to reach that NY finishing line.
The boys climbing Everest
“If you do it straight after exercise it reduces swelling and shuts your body down – flushing lactic acid down, central core and core temperature,” says Allwright. “Our runners will finish a run then jump straight into the ice bath – 15 minutes straight or for three minutes in ice bath, three minutes in the spa – three times in a row.”
Which means you can say sayonara to the ol’ delayed onset muscle soreness that normally leaves you immobilised normally for days.
“You’ll feel the recovery straight away,” says Allwright. “Mix it in with massages and other recovery treatments and you’ll be able to hold your high performance straight away and back it up with another training session,” says Allwright.
Can’t access the state of the art facilities but are keen to conquer Everest?
Read on for Allwright’s top eight tips for training like an elite athlete –
1. Work those glutes
“Sitting down all day can weaken glutes and lead to tight ITBs (the band that runs down the sides of your legs that can tug on your knee and cause pain). By strengthening glutes you work the whole body because they connect your core, quads, hamstrings and ITB’s. When they’re weak other muscle groups have to compensate and work hard to make up for what the glutes aren’t doing.”
2. Believe you can
“If you’re struggling and thinking you can’t do it, remember – the best of the best have either failed or are constantly doubting themselves. Everyone doubts themselves at some point but you can push through.”
3. Eat pre and post workout
“It’s vital to fuel your body before, during and after endurance exercises. Your body needs fuel for sustainability and performance, especially if sessions are longer than 90 minutes,” says Allwright. “Top up every 45 minutes during a long endurance session with food that’s a combo of carbohydrates, protein and hydration.”
- Workout with Tom for free on Bodypass
4. Get ahead early
“Trekkers should plan to do a minimum of 2-3 sessions per week, for 12 weeks in advance and marathon runners should aim for 3-4 sessions a week, six months in advance.”
5. Know why you’re doing it
“Often there’s pressure to attend after work drinks or go out on a Saturday night – make sure friends respect your decision if you need to stay in or wake up early. You can always go out with your friends after your done,” says Allwright. “Just make sure everything feeds back to your main goal – will it help it or hinder it?”
The New York marathon
6. Hydrate regularly
“Water is key – hydration reduces recovery time, the likelihood of cramps and ultimately increases your performance.”
7.Surround yourself with successful people
“From my experience, my performance always increases when I’m around people better than me – their habits rub off on you so if you’re doubting yourself, jump into the groove of someone you want to be like.”
8. Don’t take it too seriously
“If you take it too seriously, it turns into a job or something you don’t necessarily enjoy. Have fun and mix it up. This might mean adding variation to your regime. For example, marathon trainers might do altitude training for fun, to boost fitness and add some interactivity even if they aren’t doing a trek.”
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