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No need to go to gym to stay fit

brunch Updated: May 11, 2013 18:29 IST
Manit Moorjani
Manit Moorjani
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Who says you have to hit the gym to stay fit? Who says all exercises need complicated equipment and lots of time? The smartest way to a fit body is all about using your time and environment creatively. Just ask three of India’s rising sports stars. Strap on your trainers and listen up. We’ve got tips from the best on the field.

Part 1: Forget weight training in the gym. In this three-part series, young sportsmen show us how doing their exercises is enough to keep fit

You can increase your stamina, endurance and strength, and lose weight by following simple athletic routines that sports people rely on. “Every sport has its own drills that are done before playing, as warm-ups,” says Anand Dube, physio/trainer, Indian Davis Cup team. “These are essential in keeping the sportsperson’s body fit. They can be as beneficial for anybody else too.”

Footballers and tennis players look fit without seeming bulky. They focus on strengthening their core. These sportsmen present a toned down version of their freehand workouts, just for you. So leave your hang-ups at home and head to the garden or terrace. Use plastic cones, markers and skipping ropes. Or bushes, trees, benches and bottles lying around. That’s how simple fitness really is.

Davis Cup player Divij Sharan begins his day with a warm-up. He hooks his exercise bands to the tennis net and pulls them with full force. It may look like Sharan is only pulling a rope. But in reality, he is working his forearms, biceps, back and waist in this simple exercise. And he does a couple of sets of these every morning.

Divij Sharan: With a career high of 94 in World Doubles, he played Andy Murray in the 2004 US Open Juniors.

Sharan ensures that he works on every muscle in every part of his body. His warm-ups also incorporate a lot of running routines. He sprints between the lines marked on the court and hops from one end to the other. He has the main court at Delhi’s RK Khanna Tennis Complex all to himself, so it’s no surprise that his workout lasts almost an hour.

When training, Sharan uses props like a Swiss ball, cables, thera-tube exercise bands and even TRX bands. He also gets creative with everyday objects lying around the court. “I use targets like cones or tennis balls placed one after the other. Also, the lines on the court and platforms near the courts feature in my drills,” he says.

By looking at his lean frame, you can tell that in the gym, Sharan focuses on functional training, not weight training. “Strength is just one aspect of fitness. My workout in the gym is not body-building,” he explains. “It is very important to build your core and not just muscles. It builds many muscle groups together, so is much better.”

How Divij Sharan exercises every muscle and body part

Forehand pulls. For strong arms, back, waist and spine
1) Attach the exercise band on a hook and place rubber grips in your palms.
2) Pull slowly, taking each step further as you build in power.
3) Swivel your waist, keep the back straight and feet stable.
4) Gradually relax your arms. Make sure there are no sudden jerks. It can damage your spine.
Repetitions: Do 10 on either sides. Rest for two minutes and then do another round.

Full frontal stretches. For a strong back, triceps and waist
1) Hook the band and take a grip on each end.
2) Pull completely, exposing the chest outwards.
3) While maintaining spine balance, retreat gradually.
Repetitions: Again, do 10 rounds and rest for two minutes, then go for another 10.

Alternate leg hops. For strong calves, leg balance and quick leg movement
1) Start with your right leg. Hop forward from one side of the lines to the other.
2) As you land on your left leg, immediately hop forward again to the other side.
3) Keep doing this continuously, then jog back to the start and do it again.
Repetitions: Do five rounds and rest for two minutes. Do another five rounds.

Divij Sharan
With a career high of 94 in World Doubles, he played Andy Murray in the 2004 US Open Juniors. His take on fitness: “One can develop skill, but fitness builds over time. If I don’t play tennis for three weeks, my skill will still be there, but my fitness will take a heavy blow.”

From HT Brunch, May 12

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