Christmas is coming and it’s not just the goose that’s getting fat. Time to trim down, or at very least, learn the technique to do it, after the oncoming seasonal gorging. We’ve employed the best coach for the job – Ian McGeechan; former player and Irish and British Lions coach – to train us AND share tales of tour banter.
Ian was recently inducted into the International Rugby Board Hall of Fame after having played a total of 29 matches for the Lions in two tours, and has coached sporadically since 1989. He's already been approached about his availability in 2013.
Before he could accept, he wanted to impart this simple, cheap, five-part regime that will let you get fit without thinking.
But first, something you didn’t know about the Lions:
Ian told us, “There was a secret call we prepared before going to South Africa. We knew most of the referees were going to be South African and biased, so we set up this defensive technique. If a fight started and one player called '99', you would immediately have to hit the nearest opposing player you could find on the pitch.”
That would make quite a sight and might even be fun for the boys, but McGeechan assures us, “It was a reactionary call though, not meant for intimidation, just looking out for ourselves and making a point when necessary.” A bit like a bunch of huge ugly Karate Kids then.
Day 1/ Walking
Be honest if there’s an easy option – you’re going to take it, aren’t you? Not on this day – make sure you force yourself to take the stairs EVERYWHERE. If you can avoid a short public transport journey, then do it. This starts out as a warm-up day and once you’re more in shape, feels more like a well deserved cool-down from the rest of the week.
Day 2/ Core strength
Ian tells us, “Often people work on upper and lower body but forget the middle, which is very important. Pilates is a great way to build this up. I developed a programme when at Wasps for this technique.” But we thought Pilates was for girls. How to get around it? He recommends investing in a Swiss Ball and holding the plank position to tone your core. When doing press-ups normally or with the ball, make sure to keep high reps of at least fifteen to twenty in a set so as to achieve the maximum strength for every ounce of muscle size.
Day 3/ Running
Feel like a bit of a tit running along the roads in public? You are, according to Ian. Grass is the way forward he states – it’s far gentler on your joints than tarmac, which means less chance of an injury in the long run. Coach says, “Interval training is the best. Run at a regular pace, it doesn’t have to be far, just steady. Use lamp posts as markers and sprint between every other set.”
Day 4/ Gym work
The rugby boys bench 100 to 120 kg and squat over 200kg. Normal human beings aren’t expected to achieve that, but those are the key weight workouts to remember. The most important is Olympic weights technique, like the snatch and lift. Get these major muscle group techniques down - high weight, low reps - and you’ll be a juggernaut in no time.
Day 5/ CV toning
Ditch the weights, save the money and the time going to the gym. Ian regularly gets the Lions to do shuttle runs interspersed with press-ups and sit-ups. It breaks up the pain a bit at least. Try starting lying down – run 20 yards forward, then backwards into lying down and press-up out to repeat.
Final banter: Ian recalls, “While on tour in South Africa, the mascot Lenny The Lion got lucky with a group of women on a night out. The whole thing was caught on film by the trip videographer!” We can only presume he remained in costume throughout.
Want to see FHM suffer while training with England and Harlequins winger Ugo Monye? Go HERE.
Want more Ian McGeechan? Go HERE.