What does it take to become a World Champion?

Aah, its that time of year again. The Christmas turkey has been transformed into a months worth of turkey curry, the Christmas tree has shedded a million and one needles onto the deep pile carpet and all your trousers seem to be a little tighter than they were last time you wore them. Around the corner lies either a quiet night in or one of the biggest of the year, as 2012 hits the calendars. Isnt it traditional to have a few New Years Resolutions about to be made public, either to be carried on throughout the year or (perhaps more likely) forgotten within a week…

I’m rather in to adventure sports, so Ive been thinking up loads of resolutions for 2012; do more ski touring, get back on the bike as soon as the snow allows, actually TRY to do well at some endurance races this summer and perhaps even take up trail running!All of this takes some commitment though something to drive me to get out of my comfort zone, push myself that little bit harder than I usually do and, God forbid, do some training!

I am, however, currently at a bit of a loss as to how to achieve this, which seems somewhat defeatist at this time of year.

2011 was a pretty good year for fitness, what with learning to ski last winter keeping the legs toned, the reasonably warm spring letting me get on the road bike by March, a summer mountain biking where Id knock out a 4 hour climb no bother, and then a fantastic autumn where I actually performed relatively well at the few races I entered. Given that I put little thought into how I went about all of this, I wonder what would happen if I actually tried.

Whilst Im no World Champion, I figured it was worth looking at the training regimes of some of the top athletes from across the adventure sport world from mountain biking to skiing.

It turns out that some of the best downhill mountain bikers, such as World Champion Danny Hart and all time legend Steve Peat, enjoy a bit of Motorcross to help get their technique up to speed. Muscling the heavy motorbikes around the dirt jumps helps them control their mountain bikes when heading down hills at ridiculous speeds. And as with any cyclist, sprint and power training for the legs is vitally important to get themselves accelerated out of the gate. Steve Peat has also worked a lot with Sheffield Hallam Universitys Sports Department working on physical and psychological aspects of his training.

Whilst Im not sure Ive got the money for a motocross bike yet, Steves final piece of advice is certainly possible Drink beer and have fun…ha ha!

If you want to climb mountains as fast as Ueli Steck youll need to do a lot of varied training. His gruelling schedule includes endurance running, climbing various grades indoors and out, with repetitions at increasingly tough grades, a lot of stretching to prevent injury and increase flexibility, and mental training (I think Id need a lot of this to cope with the ridiculous amounts of exposure he experiences on the mountains!).

Kelly Slater is one of the all time greats of surfing multiple World Championships spanning over a decade, stylish, and an all round nice guy (oh, and into a bit of the eco stuff too!). In between all the distractions that must present themselves on warm tropical beaches with incredible breaks, it may surprise you to hear that hes been caught doing some MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) training with Cage Rage light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort. MMA is well known for providing a whole-body workout, and with core strength being key to good surfing, its no wonder Kellys been at it.

Kelly is also a fan of dry-land training drawing a surfboard shape in the sand, and practicing the motions of standing on the board. Good technique practice, and with enough reps, a good physical workout.

Its certainly inspiring stuff. And theres a few lessons I, and probably anyone, can take from this. All these athletes seem to mix up their training, with sports seemingly unconnected to their chosen one. Psychological training is another massive one, it seems I guess to be a World Champion takes a lot of commitment and focus, both before and during competition.

I recently came across this video, of Didier Cuches training regime. It shows the pure strength and agility needed to become one of the best Downhill skiers of our time, its humbling to watch.

Oh, and youll NEVER get me lifting weights on a gym exercise ball!

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