Spotted by affluent onlookers, in the midst of infamous brands like Rolex and Tag Heuer, a contestant is candidly driving fashionable shots. Rafael Nadal is no stranger to attracting thousands of eyes, as he solemnly punctuates his play.
It took no time at all for Nadal’s life to be acquainted with sport. Coming from a family of sporting custodians, proving himself as an elite athlete would always remain an elusive task. The bar was already set high, but Rafael Nadal was anything but intimidated by his family’s status in the sporting stratosphere.
Miguel Ander Nadal, his uncle, went on to represent Barcelona and the Spanish Football team. Inculcating numerous sacrifices, Rafa carved out a path and climbed the ranks. Stepping out of his uncle’s shadows, he is now the front runner of the Nadal family.
Guided by Miguel’s brother, Toni Nadal, Rafa was introduced to the sport of Tennis at age 4. Rafael first tasted victory 8 years later, winning Spanish and European tennis titles. His achievements didn’t go unnoticed by the Spanish Tennis Federation and the rest is history.
A plausible argument can be made about the love Rafa has for the French Open. The term ‘King of Clay’, sculpted by many after he rose to fame, has stuck with him for donkey’s years. In that period, he has amassed 13 French open titles. Let’s take a deeper look into the athlete’s life, to better comprehend what truly makes him great.
As an athlete the last thing you want to suffer is an injury. Lately, Nadal has suffered a string of injuries that has made him primarily focus on strengthening the stabilizing muscles around his knees and shoulders in the form of high intensity training that emphasizes agility and speed, slowly moving away from heavy cardio and weight training.
Despite scaling back on his on-court training due to a sore back, he happens to be found spending 60 to 120 minutes on the court. For when he does train cardio, he switches between the rowing machine, elliptical or treadmill with a 15% incline. Other days include a training that is a mix of ladder drills and jump rope with a few other strength exercises.
Prime importance is given to shoulder exercises. He says, “If the small muscles around the shoulder fail, your game is dead.’’ Therefore, he uses resistance cables on a Technogym Kinesis machine to perform internal and external rotations to strengthen the four muscles of the rotator cuff that help move and stabilize the shoulder.
His carry bag entails a set of resistance bands which is used for glute exercises such as clamshells, bridges and lateral lunges. “Getting my glutes strong and firing has really helped with my back,” he says. To strengthen his quads, he performs leg extensions on a machine. He does five reps with 10 kilograms and holds for 45 seconds at the bottom of each rep. He then performs 15 dynamic reps using 30 kilograms. Bosu ball squats and calf raises for part of everyday training.
His exercises are further fueled by punk rock or reggae. Additionally, Bon Jovi and Julio Iglesias are his two favourites which help him propel forward with much needed gusto.
Rafa claims that his diet was a 100% a disaster when he was younger. He adds, ‘’I don’t follow any crazy diet, but I have adopted better eating habits with age.” Breakfast usually consists of bread with olive oil and orange juice followed by a post-workout vanilla protein shake. The King of clay admits to having a forte for cooking. However, lack of time keeps the star out of the kitchen. Rice and fish with vegetables are his staple before any match. A carbohydrate-loading diet is an effective strategy for endurance based events, which helps increase the amount of fuel stored in your muscles. On the other hand, seafood pasta is his go-to leisurely dish.
Our brains interpret stressors differently, thereby leading to the release of positive or negative hormones. These hormones directly affect the way we adapt to exercise. Nadal’s training and dietary regimen have a profound impact on his success because it results in the release of positive hormones. Outcomes such as ‘increased immunity’ and ‘decreased injury risk’ are seen.
A true champion
It’s not far-fetched to try to figure out why he was nicknamed the raging bull, evidently reflecting the Nike athlete’s shirt and hat. The influence asserted by him has grown two fold, not just on the field, but off it too. Rafa makes a compelling case for why he should continue asserting his dominance.
Comfortably prone to Parisian settings, the summer heat and crushed red bricks act as an additive to his game. Sat next to his darling trophy at the 2020 post match press conference, he positively diverted any anxieties thrown around by the media surrounding Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Perhaps, there seems to be an air of confidence because he knows who he truly is. All in all, Nadal paints a seemingly beautiful picture.
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