© Bryn Lennon - British Athletics

Fitness

The nine-to-five workout of a world-class sprinter

Adam Gemili has had an exceptional 2019: after huge success at the IAAW British Championships, he's currently taking part in the World Championships and will potentially feature at the Olympics next year. GQ asked him how he keeps himself competition-ready...

Adam Gemili is out in Dubai when we speak, training for the World Championships in Doha, where he is competing in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4x100 metres. You'd think that the heat might be the greatest enemy of an athlete out there, but for him it might be the sheer amount of high-end equipment available while he prepares.

"It's a state-of-the-art gym. It’s all the equipment we need. It’s having cryochambers and plunge pools at every temperature on tap. It’s quite cool," he says. But a good training regime doesn't need too much of a shake-up, even when the resources are so enticing. "I’m trying not to do anything different that I wouldn’t do."

After breaking a championship record in the 200 metres at the IAAW British Championships earlier this year – and before the Olympics prep really ramps up in 2020 – Gemili is in the middle of another busy summer as a world-class sprinter. Fitness and nutrition, as he says, are hugely important in making sure all of this turns into the success he wants.

(Credit: QIPCO British Champion Series)

"I missed out on an Olympic medal by three thousandths of a second," he says. "That’s nothing. Maybe that one or two per cent from sleep or nutrition would fix that, but I’ve been focusing on getting as lean as possible, eating the right foods for the sessions."

Athletics, he says, isn't easy to train for. "It’s not a team sport. You have to live right, sleep right, work harder off the track than you do on it. It’s not always easy, especially when you’re coming through university and your early twenties when your friends are going out and drinking and have their weekends free.

"You have to sacrifice a lot in this sport if you want to be at the top. If you still want to do the sport, you’ve got the right mentality. If it’s, ‘Oh, let me have a little bit of chocolate now’, you can’t do that to be the best."

We asked him how he keeps fit throughout the week to make sure he's still making his way onto the podium.

Monday

"Monday is a double-session day. We’ll get to the track for 10am, do some speed sessions, maybe some acceleration. Do a really big warm-up for an hour, then some sled pulls and then do some acceleration runs, maybe 20 runs out of blocks, which is quite intense if you’re a sprinter. Then we’ll get some lunch and go into the gym in the afternoon.

"We’ll start with a compound lift, pair that with a squat – whether that’s quarter, half or full – and then we’ll do smaller targeted exercises depending on what we’re weak on and what our coach thinks we need to work on... calves, core, mobility. We’ll do some sort of specific training after that and then we’ll do some balance, flexibility and core, which can be quite intense."

Tuesday

"A longer speed endurance-type session. The warm-up won’t be as long and we might do a session like 12 x 200 metres, with, like, four minutes recovery to walk back across the field, and the 200 metres in, like, a 27/28-second pace. That’s a tough session. Then they’ll say do some core on your own."

Wednesday

"Quite similar to Monday, but instead of short accelerations after biometrics we’ll do five or six block starts for 60-90-metre runs as fast as you can with a longer recovery. Then we’ll go into the gym and do something similar: compound lift, squat and targeted stuff based on what you need to work on.

"I’ve started working with a nutritionist and we have a set a plan. She gives me different options for breakfast, but the big thing for me is making sure I eat regularly throughout the day but not as much, to keep my metabolism quite high.

"I might have a protein porridge breakfast with some bananas. If I’ve just got a single-session day, I’ve started using my Nutribullet to make a breakfast smoothie, depending on the day, with some fruit, some banana. I’m not a huge fan of avocado, even though she’s trying to get me to eat it.

"Then a protein hit after training, a light lunch, a tuna salad or something, which is easy to prepare and take to the track. Then a gym session, have a protein shake and then a big nice meal in the evening. I like eating chicken, steak or fish – they’re my go-to meats. Then it’s easy to buy a bag of frozen veg to steam or pan-fry and then some sort of carb – a sweet potato, a potato, white rice – depending on what stage of the season I’m at and depending on how lean I’m trying to get."

Thursday

"A down day. We’ll come in as a group and maybe do some circuit training for an hour just to get moving, just some active recovery – we won’t be killing ourselves. It makes you sweat a lot and work hard."

Friday

"Speed again. It’s a double day. We always lift Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’ll be a long warm-up, some longer speed stuff – 150 metres, 200 metres, maybe five or six 150-metre runs at 18-second pace with three or four minutes recovery. That’s a really tough session, actually. Then we’ll go into the gym in the afternoon and do the same routine."

Saturday

"We’ll be running up to 400 metres really hard, repeating that, getting a good speed and endurance base. Always a tough one."

Sunday

"Off. Always Sundays off. Sometimes a coach will say do 20 minutes of active recovery, walk for 20 minutes or swim. Sometimes if you’re too static for the whole day you try to run fast the next day and your body struggles. But it depends on how you’re feeling. I’m pretty anti-social anyway; I like to get home and spend time doing things I don’t get to do. I love to chill, do a big shop and experiment with different recipes. One that we all look forward to.

"On Sundays I’ll make something more fun. I’m from a Moroccan and Iranian background so I’ll experiment with stews and tagines. I make my own food like that, but I can’t eat too much or I’ll put on weight too quickly. I’m a man of routine so I’ll eat the same things every day. I know what I want to get for snacks and stuff: I’ll try to snack on celery and hummus or rice cakes and salmon and cream cheese. But it’s important to allow yourself some treats now and again; it becomes very depressing and mentally draining to eat like that all year. I’m a big fan of crisps, they’re always my go-to."

Adam Gemili is an ambassador for QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse on 19 October. For tickets visit britishchampionsday.com

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