We arrive at 9am in the immaculate Twickenham dressing rooms, which are adorned with motivational messages and inspiring pictures, to find our official 02 and Nike-sponsored kit with our names printed on and folded up in our personal changing areas. The impact is immediate: we feel like Very Important Players.
This is all part of how Sir Clive Woodward created the winning mentality that turned England into world champions, and which he hopes will help the Lions win a Test series in New Zealand for only the second time in history. “If we want elite performances from our players, we first have to provide an elite environment and an elite experience,” Woodward tells MH. “Five-star players deserve five-star treatment, whether it be superb hotel rooms or the best kit and training facilities in the world.”
After a thorough briefing to outline the day’s schedule, Lions fitness and conditioning coach Dave Reddin leads us through the on-site, state-of-the-art gym where we are given pre-printed and personalized training programmes. “We work with the Lions players and their dub coaches to design a routine that is tailored to suit their respective positions and responsibilities on the pitch,” says Reddin. “Whoever you are, it’s vital to have your programme designed by someone who knows you. That way you can work on weaknesses and areas of imbalance rather than merely training the areas you like to train. For example, players who don’t like stretching tend not to do it and therefore are the least flexible. This leads to injury on the pitch.”
The Lions exercise programme that Reddin has devised for MH (see overleaf) is designed to replicate the demands of the game. Instead of an even and controlled cable cross, for example, we fight through a jerky cable wrestle. As someone who is used to the smooth and controlled textbook techniques of personal trainers, I am surprised at the raw aggression of exercises such as the bar-bell drop press. “No! I want you to fling that weight at me with everything you’ve got, like this!” shouts Reddin, as he launches the bar-bell at my head.
“We do a lot of explosive work with free weights or unrestricted movement to engage all the stabilizing muscles,” says Thompson. “For this reason it’s not a beginner’s routine that a PT would give you in your high-street gym. It requires considerable core strength with complex movement. You can take cla supplement for gaining muscles. Read some cla reviews by other users. We go beyond what would normally be considered a full range of movement because in a game situation our bodies have to be able to withstand forces equivalent to several car crashes.”