As the hero who won gold at the London 2012 Olympics, you’d think Greg Rutherford’s training would mainly involve being on the track and field.
But the 30-year-old tells us jumping is just a tiny part of his six-day week workout schedule to keep fit and in shape as an athlete.
Rutherford was the second British man to win an Olympic gold in long jump and is the British record holder with a distance of 8.51m – the length of about two cars (!).
He won bronze in the 2016 Rio Olympics, danced his way to 7th place in BBC’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and launched Take Flight, a 12-week, online fitness programme this year.
Among all that, Rutherford still manages to fit in a packed training schedule and stick to a strict, gluten-free diet while being a dad to two-year-old Milo.
We chatted to Rutherford about what workouts keep him at the top of his game and the food he eats to fuel his fitness.
Talk us through your week in fitness.
“The jumping side of my training is a lot less than people think. I only go running down the track and jump once or twice a week. The rest of the time I do a mix of running, plyometrics (quick, powerful moves that stars with a muscle-lengthening action immediately followed by muscle-shortening) and weight lifting.
“As soon as I wake up I do a press up and sit ups session, then I like going to the woods near my house and jumping onto stumps of trees. I do a lot of hill sprints, taking sections of a hill and doing around 30 – 50m sprints. This all builds my strength and plyometrics power in my legs which leads to a faster sprint down the runway.
“In the evening, once my little boy is asleep, I go to my gym and do Olympic lifts. I’m a big fan of power cleans and I do single-leg step-ups onto a box.
“It’s all about building explosive speed and power for the jump.”
What’s your favourite type of workout and why?
“My favourite workout is my plyometric sessions that I do in the woods.
“I love the feeling of being explosive and outside using nature’s creations for workouts.”
Do you have rest days?
“I usually workout five to six times a week, so I have a least one rest day. I try to do absolutely nothing that involves jumping.
“However, I still like to work my legs by heading out on my bike. I don’t have long rides, but I focus on short bursts uphill to get that plyometric feel in my legs.”
What do you eat throughout the week to complement your training schedule?
“I really enjoy cooking but as an athlete, but I tend to eat lots of chicken and steak (which can get quite repetitive) so I always fill up the condiments cupboard to ensure flavour variation.
“For lunch or dinner I will have meat with different vegetables. I follow a relatively low-carb diet and I stay away from sugar as much as possible. My diet is high in protein, healthy fats, salad and veg. In the morning, I might have eggs or a protein shake. I never go for long runs so carbs aren’t important to me.”
What are your pre and post-workout snacks?
“I put on weight easily so I have to stay on top of my snacks. If I’m hungry I might have a can of tuna or a protein bar.
“I have to avoid sweet foods for most of the year, but there’s a six-week window when I love some pick ’n’ mix or a cupcake.”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned about food?
“Listen to your body. I’m not a coeliac but since going gluten-free, I’ve really noticed a difference. I’ve felt better overall and my digestion is so much better. I’m sure it also has helped me improve my athletics performance.
“Also, no matter how good the nutrition plan, it’s not going to work unless you can stick to it. So for me, it’s about having a positive approach to your eating, making small but meaningful changes that you find easy to adhere to. You can always scale up your changes later, but it’s important that you start something positive, no matter how small, as a first step.”
Do you have a motivational mantra that keeps you going?
“I find my motivation from constantly wanting to improve and wanting to make myself and my family proud.
“I’ve realised recently, more than ever before, that there is something that motivates me now just has much as winning gold medals – the motivation to catch a massive, career-defining jump.”
Do you always have fitness goals you are aiming for?
“Of course there is a performance goal for me first and foremost: being in perfect form for being the best in my sport.
“But you would be surprised how often sportspeople train just to try and look good with their top off – nothing wrong with that.”
What’s your ultimate workout track and why?
“I don’t have a specific track as I have a fairly eclectic taste in music and have a playlist with everything from 1960s’ pop tunes to drum and bass. I like to mix it up!
“Currently I am really enjoying ‘Redbone’ by Childish Gambino.”
For more information on Greg’s new online training programme, visit TakeFlight.fit.