Home Physical Fitness the All Blacks’ fitness secrets – and what you can learn from...

the All Blacks’ fitness secrets – and what you can learn from them

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The All Blacks have been using Wattbikes for over a decade but the team recently signed a formal partnership with the Nottingham-based indoor bike brand. “The versatility and application potential is massive,” explains Gill. “We use it for recovery (a spin helps to remove lactate from aching muscles after games). We use it for rehab because we can address any imbalances in the legs. And we use it for competition because young athletes love competition and trying to beat each other.”

Gill says the players also use Wattbikes for “energy system development” – a technical term for improving the body’s performance during exercise, from high-paced anaerobic fitness to slower endurance-based aerobic fitness. Some players do high-intensity intervals, while others do longer efforts. But many also use it for “off-feet conditioning,” which essentially means getting fit without subjecting the body to the damaging impact of running. This is useful for big rugby players – and heavier recreational gym-goers too. “When you’re 130kg, there’s only so much running you can do before you increase your risk of injury,” explains Gill. “But with Wattbikes we can improve the condition and physical qualities off-feet, with no risk to joints or Achilles tendonitis or ankles.  We can actually sidestep all the things players really suffer from and achieve the same metabolic stress and conditioning on a Wattbike.”

Boost cardio health with bodyweight circuits 

Despite their passion for heavy lifts, the All Blacks still do lots of simple bodyweight circuits. “Some of our big boys can only do bodyweight chin-ups anyway because they are so big,” says Gill. Bodyweight drills include one-arm press-ups, bridges, burpees, tricep dips, back raises and planks. “Some of our Wattbike sessions are ‘super-setted’ with bodyweight circuits,” adds Gill. “So we might do a crawl, a pull, a press and a Wattbike sprint. The bodyweight (exercise) provides functional conditioning. The Wattbike is replacing the sprint on the field. And the crawl and press are replacing getting up and down from a tackle. So burpees and all of these things are really important.”

Avoid injuries with yoga

Even hulking 130kg All Blacks players need a little time out for stretching and yoga sessions, which help to prevent injuries and strains. “Everyone’s got different focus points like stretching, mobility and yoga,” explains Gill. “But they’re all really important for longevity. You have to look after your body, and players are learning that. It takes some younger boys a bit longer to learn, but the older boys realise: actually, this makes me feel better. So we do a lot of stretching and mobility. We do small touches of that daily, before or after training, or in the gym. Sometimes twice a day they will be doing soft tissue work, myofascial release, mobility, band stretching and partner-assisted stretching.”

Stimulate your mind with new ideas

Despite the team’s old-fashioned training principles, the All Blacks do enjoy experimenting with new training ideas, from massage guns to GPS tracker vests. “Learning is stimulating for all of us and it keeps you enjoying what you’re doing,” explains Gill. “We’re constantly trying new things and getting a balance between fads and real new methods that might help us long-term. We don’t look for quick fixes or silver bullets, but we will try things. Every week you’re thinking: can I learn something different? From athletes to staff, we are chasing perfection – but we will never get there. So long as we are actually trying to get there, that is the main thing.” 

Find out more about the Wattbike at wattbike.com. Available for £1,999, starting at £52 per month



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