Inside Virat Kohli’s Fitness, Which Ravi Shastri Thinks Has Made Him ‘India’s Most Successful Captain’
On the eve of Team India’s departure for England, to play the World Test Championship final against New Zealand, captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri took the media inside the build up to the big game. The latter also heaped praise on the Indian skipper, for his evolution as an athlete, since his first tour to England, in 2014.
— BCCI (@BCCI) May 31, 2021
“The difference between the Virat Kohli of 2014 (England vs India tour) and today is that he’s slimmer, fitter, the most successful Indian Test captain, and only five and a half thousand runs richer,” Shastri said while reflecting on the rapid rise of the Team India leader.
Kohli’s determination towards fitness has been the gold standard for cricketers not just in India, but across the world. His stamina, concentration and the ability to dig deep when thrown into the deep end, has often been attributed to his training and diet. He is now using his success as a platform to raise awareness on mental health, as well.
In past interviews, Kohli has admitted that he had to push himself out of his comfort zone in order to achieve results. “My training was horrible, I ate so badly, I was up until late for hours, I was having a drink or two regularly. It was a horrible mindset,” he had admitted about a phase of his life in 2012.
“The season ended, and I was so thankful it was over. I went home, came out of the shower one day and looked at myself in the mirror and said ‘you can’t look like this if you want to be a professional cricketer.’ I was 11-12kg heavier than I am now, I was really chubby. I changed everything from the next morning from what I eat to how I train. I was in the gym for an hour-and-a-half every day,” he had added.
Since then, Kohli has known to have put in hours in the gym, and on the training ground. His focus has been on smart work over mindless lifting. Of course, he has dedicated fitness professionals to help him out, but he has certainly not let them down.
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Here are a few key pointers from his workout regime:
- Working out for five days in a week and taking two days off
- Warm up which includes running, sprinting and a couple of cardio exercises
- Focus on simple and basic exercises with major focus on the lower body
- He does almost 100 reps of squats
Equal parts diet
“[I tried] working hard, off gluten, off wheat, no cold drinks, no desserts, nothing. It was tough,” he had said in 2017, about his diet. Even on other interviews like Gaurav Kapoor’s Breakfast with Champions, he has admitted to cutting down on cheat meals to ensure optimum levels of fitness.
According to his childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma, Kohli’s dedication to sports and restraint in food consumption is inspirational. He has completely taken out packaged beverages, and oily and fatty foods from his diet.
He believes in eating foods in the right quantity, with special attention to the ease of digestion. Hence, he prefers home-cooked food. “Lot of vegetables, some eggs, two cups of coffee, dal, quinoa, lots of spinach, love dosas too,” he had responded during an AMA on Instagram in 2020. “All in controlled quantities,” he had cautioned.
Snacks include dry fruits, wheat crackers and beverages like black coffee. “Almonds, protein bar, fruits,” he had specified on his Instagram account. Although he used to consume meat in the past, Kohli has recently revealed to have moved on to a vegetarian diet.
“You don’t have an outlet at all in today’s day and age. You’re literally going to the ground and coming back to the room, and you don’t have a space where you can just disconnect from the game and go out for a walk or a meal and a coffee and say, ‘Let me refresh myself. Let me just get away from the game a little bit.’ I think this is a huge factor, which should not be neglected,” Kohli said before taking off for the WTC final.
Using his own mental troubles on the 2014 England tour as an example, Kohli has often advocated a “strong need” for professional help in Indian cricket. Along with physical fitness, the need to prioritise mental wellbeing is a must for professional athletes, who are constantly under the spotlight.
The higher-ups are equally responsible for providing the necessary infrastructure to prioritise the mental wellbeing of sportspersons from a young age. Kohli is certainly doing his bit.
Images: Instagram/Virat Kohli