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Fit on the field and off it

As World Cup mania spreads across the nation, it’s not going to be easy to ignore the action on the field. It’s very important for the players to stay calm and focused. It requires mental grit and physical stamina. Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir and Harbhajan Singh let us in on their fitness secrets.

entertainment Updated: Feb 19, 2011 16:10 IST
Veenu Singh

As World Cup mania spreads across the nation, it’s not going to be easy to ignore the action on the field. And with the Indian team being held up as the hot favourites in the tournament, it’s very important for the players to stay calm and focused. To ensure that this happens, fitness at both the physical and mental levels is bound to be the key to the Indian cricketers’ success.

So what do they do to keep themselves on top of their game? How do they ensure they’ll be at their best when they’re on the field? Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Gautam Gambhir give us the answers.

Straight from the pitch

YuviThe World Cup is here! What are you feeling? Do you meditate to calm your nerves?

Yuvraj: It is determination more than nerves at this moment. I get up feeling the will to do my best and feel exhilaration and a kind of nervous excitement – in a positive way.

Harbhajan: Sure, nervousness is with most of us, but one has learnt to handle it well over these years. Being in good form physically helps to take away the ‘butterflies in the belly’ feeling. Moreover, I do a bit of pranayama to calm down.

Gautam: I feel great and on top of things – like it is all out there for me and my teammates to win! I am very positive at this stage and with all the practice that has gone in, I am not nervous at all. On days that I feel ‘queasy’, I try and get in more practice which calms me down tremendously. Basically, it builds my belief in myself.

Obviously, fitness is a prime concern right now. Are you undergoing a special workout regime?

Yuvraj: Yes, of course! I work out six days at least and do a different activity on each day. I love circuits and mostly do that.

Harbhajan: I put in at least two hours a day at the gym where I focus on cardio, strength, balance, flexibility and agility drills.

Gautam: Fitness is of prime importance to me at all times – all through the year. However, so close to the World Cup, I put in a couple of hours a day at the gym for strength and cardio. However, I do love the outdoors, so sometimes we take the fitness sessions in the park where I love high intensity workouts in this fabulous weather.

What is your diet schedule like?

Yuvraj: As a sportsperson, I know how important diet is, so my focus is on a balanced meal plan which actually starts at 6 am with a glass of warm water followed by one banana. For breakfast I have cereal, milk, eggs, one toast and some fruit. At mid-morning, I have a protein shake before my workout and later I have a protein plus carb shake. My lunch is light, with a sandwich and salads – usually a chicken sandwich. A glass of milk follows at around 5 pm. My dinner is rather early with fish, vegetables and yoghurt. Also, I drink lots of water to keep well hydrated. During practice, I have some sports drink to replace electrolytes as well as fluids. I never eat dessert. I love coffee without milk, so once in a while I have a coffee after my meal.

Harbhajan: I love Indian food! I have warm water as soon as I wake up, followed by fruit before I start my practice. For me, breakfast is usually a yummy paneer or dal paratha with curd and fruit – all low fat of course. I am a milk buff and can live on milk forever. So I drink at least three large glasses of milk every day – one at 11 am, one at 5 pm and one just before going to bed. My lunch is usually a non-veg curry with a sabzi and three rotis. Early in the evening, I have a bowl of mixed fruit. My dinner is usually some fish dish with a roti. I do not like rice. I avoid dessert, though I eat loads of dry fruits after a meal. I do supplement my diet with nutritional aids like proteins, if it’s required.

Gautam: Diet is of huge concern to any sportsman. Which is why I focus on adequate supplements to enhance complete nutrition, as one does not get all the nutrients in adequate quantities through balanced meals alone. This is an issue specially when we are travelling. Hydration is very important as well. I swear by water, sports drinks and tender coconut water. I do love sweets – the Indian ones – but I purposely go slow on them. I eat a healthy mix of Indian and Continental food with a focus on proteins and carbs. I am not really a foodie and leave most of the planning to a nutritionist and eat the most healthy options available. On our tours, I do like to have probiotic drinks as a routine.

One healthy habit you would like to share…

Yuvraj: Early to bed, early to rise. This is what I swear by.

Harbhajan: Eat healthy and live healthy!

Gautam: Read, read and read. This is what I believe in and so I read a lot – any kind of book. It makes me calm and relaxed.

How do you tackle stress? How much do you need to sleep?

Yuvraj: Eight hours of sleep is a must. Your body demands it. So most days I sleep early and get up early. I love watching cartoons and some old English movies, specially thrillers.

Harbhajan: I de-stress by spending quality time with my family. I love to go out for a meal with them, making it a huge affair with lots of laughter and fun. I sleep eight hours every day.

Gautam: I love reading and that helps me de-stress. Especially autobiographies – I can read them over and over again. I try and get eight hours of sleep but it really depends...

What do you do to improve your concentration?

Yuvraj: Not anything major, but I do practice meditation/yoga at least once a day for 20 minutes.

Harbhajan: I try and do some mind-body workout like tai chi.

Gautam: Pranayama for 20 minutes a day. I do kapalbhati and anuloma-viloma.

From HT Brunch, February 20

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