Every day, our news headlines are dominated by images of the world’s top athletes and sportspeople, winning games, smashing world records, holding up trophies and giving their teammates group hugs after a nailbiting victories. Most of us are vaguely aware of the blood, sweat and tears, huge amounts of training and strict diets that have gone into preparing for those victories. But deep down at the core, are the training programs of elite Olympic athlete or multi-millionaire sportspersons vastly different to that of us mere mortals? If you take away the army of coaches, dietitians and therapists, perhaps the majority of it is good old common sense after all?

Here are some training tidbits from elite athletes from around the world - from tennis players and Olympic athletes, to footballers, surfers, and cyclists.

1. Love what you do

"I love my sport and can't think of anything I would want to do more."
Jessica Ennis, Olympic heptathlon champion.

Does training feel more like a dreaded chore than fun? Perhaps you've picked the wrong sport. The trick to being successful and achieving your goals in any pursuit in life is to find something you love doing in the first place. Hate running, but think you should do it just “because it’s good for you”, or because you feel like you should be joining the throngs pounding the pavement decked out in compression gear? Don't struggle through the kms any more - there are plenty of other options, like taking up a team sport, hitting the trails or signing up for a interval training or weights class. 

Speaking of which...

2. Don’t ignore interval training...seriously

“High intensity is important to get your blood pumping and to increase stamina. We do a lot of sprinting drills in training and they can be incorporated into your workout whether you are in the gym or outdoors. Try and add it to every workout you do.”
Cristiano Ronaldo, world’s highest paid soccer player.

We’re hearing more and more about high intensity interval training (or HIIT), and used correctly, it's a good alternative if you're time poor. Interval training has an important place in the training regime of almost any professional and amateur sports person, whether you do weights, yoga, or endurance sports. The most simple way to incorporate HIIT into your regime is to spend a block of time repeating a set of 30-second sprints, followed by 30-second rest periods (or check out Tabata training - it’s tougher than it looks!)

3. Feel the music

“When I do weights, there’s usually a lot of music... I grew up on trance, dance music, which actually works out well for fitness, and then I got into the whole rock’n’roll, Metallica, AC/DC, that kind of thing. I like to listen to it loud.”
Roger Federer, world’s highest paid tennis player and current world No. 2.

Even elite athletes need to get in the zone with their training, and studies have continually shown that music can help motivate you and push you towards a more effective and intense workout. So, grab those earbuds, turn up the volume, and get out the door. You can also read more tips from big Roger over at Shortlist.

4. Make fitness a lifestyle

“I have a holistic approach to my life all year round, so every day is pretty active: surfing a lot, stretching and breathing. I try to eat as many fresh, colorful foods as possible.”
Stephanie Gilmore, world surfing champion.

Fitness can have a positive flow-on effect in all areas of your life. That run this morning should inspire you to eat that healthy breakfast, which in turn should help you recover and fuel your next training session tomorrow morning. It’s a synergistic, self-reinforcing cycle that, with persistence, anyone can get attain. Read more about Steph’s approach to training at LA Confidential.

5. Eat what works best for you

“Over time I found out what works for me and I’ve done some testing and have since found out that I have a wheat intolerance. So I should avoid any type of pasta because I don’t digest it well. Now I stick more to grains and rice and I feel much better for it in the race.”
— Simon Gerrans, cyclist and two-time Australian National Road Race Champion.

When it comes to nutrition, there is no one size fits all approach. Listen to your body and if something doesn’t feel right, don’t eat it just because it’s the newest health food trend or the “must-eat” superfood. If you need professional guidance, speak to a qualified nutritionist or dietitian and ask them to put together a plan for you which suits your particular needs, lifestyle and training regime. And as always, just be sure to experiment with food during training, and not on the day of a big race or game! Nobody likes digestive upsets, whether they’re running a local 10km fundraiser, or undertaking the Tour de France. If bars are your thing, we’ve got a huge range of different energy bars to experiment with, so get testing and find out which products and foods power your workout the most effectively.

What are some of the best fitness tips and quotes you’ve heard from your favourite athletes? Do you have any little ‘expert’ tips and tricks that you like to incorporate into your training regime?


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