Coaches reveal how to workout like a professional athlete


Two coaches of some of Australia’s top sporting teams has revealed how women can train like athletes.

The head coach of the Jillaroos, Brad Donald, and the Greater Western Sydney Giants AFL women’s team, Alan McConnell, have shared how to make every minute count.

Having trained some of the best in the country they have proven they know how to make your body and your hormones with you.

From understanding the impact of hormones to focusing on strength training, they shared their top tips with Body+Soul. 


Mr Donald said that although everyone is different, people’s period can have a major effect on their performance, recovery and motivation.

He said when the oestrogen and progesterone levels are low, which is generally during the first 12 days of a 28-day cycle, people tend to have more focus, feel less fatigued and have a higher pain threshold.

This means it is the best time to do a high-intensity workout or start a new training program.

When the body is ovulating, which happens around day 14, Mr Donald said exercises that rely on endurance works best and then for days 15 to 28 steady exercise, such as jogging, is ideal.

Mr Donald said oral contraceptives can effect fitness levels in a variety of ways. 

‘The Pill may increase your core temperature and levels of oxidative stress – both of which can impact your fatigue and recovery – and it can also decrease the amount of free testosterone in your system,’ he said.

The coach explained that this is not ideal as testosterone plays an important part in building muscle strength.

He recommended that if people are wanting to increase their strength to speak to their doctor about how they can achieve this.

Although cardio is an important part of an exercise routine, Mr Donald said the foundation should be strength training.

This is because it is what helps build strength and muscular endurance. 

‘Practise ‘proprioceptive training’ [which focuses on balance, coordination and agility]as this helps protect your body from potential injuries,’ he said.

This includes dynamic, multi-movement stretches that often involve a resistance band (such as an assisted hamstring stretch), and will help to strengthen your ligaments. 

Mr McConnell explained that women tend to be more prone to iron deficiencies compared to men, which often results in an increased risk of fatigue and stress-related injuries.

This means it’s important that people make sure that they hit their nutritional targets. 

‘If your body is sending you signs that you need to slow down, you should listen to it and seek professional advice,’ he said.

The sports coach also said women are more likely to under-eat compared to men, which is another contribution to fatigue.

He explained that people need to ensure they fuel their body after a workout.

Mr McConnell explained that it’s important that people know that going hard when exercising doesn’t mean a better workout.

He said it can often be more beneficial for people to reduce the duration and intensity of their sessions.

This helps to make sure they don’t burn out early and ‘compromise continuity’.

He suggested that people train three times a week for 10 weeks to ensure their workouts aren’t thrown off by any injury.


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