India’s golden child Neeraj Chopra missed out on the Common Wealth Games 2022 due to injury concerns. This dealt a blow to the country’s sporting ambitions, as the Olympic gold medalist could have been a guaranteed gold medalist at the games.
Considering how he’s consistently proven himself to be a class apart from his competitors, his loss was definitely felt by the Indian contingent, despite the rest of the athletes performing admirably.
Life as an elite athlete isn’t easy by any measure. They’re afforded limited downtime to recuperate after long and physically demanding sporting seasons. Atop that, they’re required to follow a disciplined lifestyle in order to consistently elevate their performances.
Considering his heroics at the 2020 Summer Games, Neeraj Chopra was long overdue for a well-deserved break.
However, with his cheat day extending to a few weeks, Neeraj had packed on several pounds thanks to the graciousness of hosts looking to felicitate him in the best possible manner; this included a Chief Minister hosting a ‘rich’ spread of food for the Indian Olympic heroes.
While he had made the most of his time off, not too soon after, in December, Neeraj was back in his previously elite avatar in order to win the silver medal at the World Championship.
Speaking to Indian Express, Neeraj’s physiotherapist and confidante Ishaan Marwaha shared the factors that helped the Indian javelin get into the best shape of his life:
Table of Contents
1. Ditch The Ego, Start From Scratch
It’s never easy getting back into a fitness routine, especially after you’ve lost momentum due to an injury or a self-enforced time off. However, it’s crucial to be humble and be okay with starting from scratch.
Speaking of Neeraj’s experience returning to his routine after a break, Marwaha says, “It was almost like starting from zero because there was a four-month gap, he was overweight and had put on about 12 to 14 kilograms.”
2. Set Key Objectives
We all work out for our own selfish reasons, so it makes little sense to follow objectives readymade for someone else. Know your own body, and set your own targets.
In Team Chopra’s case, the key objectives, to begin with, were to lose weight while improving flexibility and strengthening his joints. Especially following his injury.
3. Remove Sugar From Your Diet
The toughest part of a diet plan is actually following it. It’s easy to intellectually know the macros and micros each ingredient on the table brings to your body, but it’s a totally different ball game to stick to it.
Neeraj’s diet required him to ghost sugar completely, while making a few other tweaks as well.
Ishaan details camp dietician Mihira Khopkar’s diet plan, “When we reached Chula Vista our first aim was to reduce the weight. Immediately the sugar was out of the diet. No refined sugar, no sugar in drinks or adding to coffee. Sugar coming from food was fine.”
4. Drop That Body Fat
An ordinary person doesn’t need to stress about their body fat percentage too much, however, it’s a totally different story for an elite athlete like Neeraj Chopra. His body fat dropped from 16% in December to 10% currently all thanks to his training and dieting regime.
Marwaha observes, “For a javelin thrower, around 10 and 10.5 is good. Below that you are going down way too much.”
5. Stay Focused
It’s going to be difficult at the beginning, especially if you’ve slipped out of shape. Even Chopra got a reality check when he attempted two to three laps of the 400-meter track at Chula Vista.
Speaking on the same, Marwaha said, “It was difficult for him also because he has not run with that kind of weight. He has not been 97 kgs since the time I have been with him. It was tough for him to start running long distances initially. Then we kept on increasing the distances of his runs up to 5K.”
He continued, “We were using the time wisely. But we were not pushing. We had less time and we had to cover a lot of training. That was a little tough initially but hats off to Neeraj, he was dedicated… with the diet and everything.”
6. Add Protein For Best Results
Consuming a protein-rich diet not only helps you gain muscle, but it might actually aid in weight loss as well. In Chopra’s case, he lost two kilograms in two weeks on a protein-rich diet.
Additionally, his weight training regime made him leaner. Elaborating on what kind of proteins Neeraj consumed, Ishaan said, “We reduced the carbohydrates and increased the protein intake during those four to five weeks. Chicken, salmon, and a lot of salad was the basic source of protein. And also the eggs. A protein supplement is just an add-on. For carbohydrates there were potatoes.”
In Neeraj Chopra, India has a generational talent at its disposal. So, who better to learn from, than our very own Olympian?