A sporty edge

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  • Published 15.02.09

Ever wondered what it takes to be an award-winning sports star? Or how boxer Vijender Kumar (with his model-like looks) got himself that lean frame? And what catapulted ace shooter Abhinav Bindra to his Olympic gold medal?

Even as the obvious answer lies in their steely determination to win, the unseen aspect is the rigorous fitness regimen that each has diligently followed. Ryan Fernando, a sport nutrition performance specialist, says: “There’s a great deal of toil involved, depending on the type of sport they are involved in.” For, each sport involves different parts of the body which in turn require different levels of physical fitness.

Fernando adds that the tough training regimen is paired with specific diets for each sportsperson.

Here’s looking at how four of the country’s top sports personalities stay in shape.

Vijender Kumar

The Olympic bronze medallist boxer is quite a fitness freak. Guided by his trainer, he works out six days a week and rests on Sunday. From the time he took up boxing as a career in 1999, Kumar made it a habit to run five to six kilometres a day. And now he runs for at least 10 to 12 km at a stretch. “I enjoy running in the open and don’t believe in running on the treadmill,” says Kumar.

Fitness mantras: He spends more than three hours each day working out. According to the lean and toned Kumar, weight-training is mandatory and he does two days of weight-training a week. Kumar divides two more days between running long stretches, playing football or basketball.

A daily routine includes doing eight to 10 rounds of punching with each round lasting for about two minutes each. His fitness regime also includes yoga. “I believe that yoga helps me stay physically and mentally fit and I have therefore made it an integral part of my life.’’

The fitness regime is backed by a carefully planned diet. A teetotaller, Kumar avoids fatty foods and sticks to protein-laden foods, fruits and seasonal vegetables. He’s a water therapy fan and guzzles more than five litres of water a day.

“Exercising makes you energetic. On the days that I don’t work out, I feel lethargic,” he says.

Sunil Chhetri

The 24-year-old soccer star, Sunil Chhetri, is more than conscious about his fitness routine. He’s been working out for the last six to seven years. Not one for bulky muscles, he says that his body must be flexible and his senses alert. “My priority is to maintain a well-toned body,” says Chhetri. Six days of rigid training includes it all — cardio, weight-training and stretching exercises.

Fitness mantras: Guided by his trainer, he hits the gym thrice a week and concentrates on keeping his muscles well-toned with intensive weight-training.

Chhetri also combines weight-training and cardio workouts with stretching exercises. “Stretching is important as it improves flexibility,” he says. Another three days are dedicated to recreational games like squash, tennis and even swimming.

A teetotaller, Chhetri opts for early dinner, which is usually simple vegetarian fare.


Abhinav Bindra

The first ever Indian to win an Olympic gold, this 26-year-old swears by the workout that his instructor has designed for him. “If you are fit, you sleep well and feel good about yourself,” says Bindra, who sweats it out six days a week at his home gym in Chandigarh. “When the weather is good, I also go for a jog,” he says. And when he’s travelling he makes his way to the hotel gym rather than skip the exercise.

Fitness mantras: He does an intensive cardio workout on the treadmill or the cross-trainer for at least an hour-and-30 minutes, three days a week. On the other three days he focuses on weight-training. “I prefer to do free weights rather than use the machine,” he says. He goes for the occasional swim as he feels swimming is an overall fitness workout.

But he doesn’t believe in over-exercising: “It’s not sensible to spend hours on end working out at the gym. One must workout according to the demands of one’s body,” he says.

Fitness is also all about discipline. Bindra says: “I like getting up early and sticking to a routine. The challenge lies in working out even when there are no tournaments,” he says.

Sushil Kumar

The 25-year-old wrestler who came home with an Olympic bronze medal, drinks some four litres of milk everyday. “A wrestler needs to be strong and not overweight,” he says.

Fitness mantras: Kumar wakes up at the crack of dawn at 3 am. His gruelling exercise routine lasts between 3.45 am and 9 am and during this time he runs five to six kilometres followed by sprinting, stretching exercises, sit-ups and rope climbing. He rests between 9 am and 3 pm. But by evening he’s ready to start all over again. “However, I run only two kilometres in the evening,” says Kumar.

A vegetarian, Sushil’s diet includes rotis, pulses, paneer, sprouts and lots of fruits and badam milk.