Rafa Nadal – Will He Ever Return To The Top Four Again?

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The longer the current tennis year plods along (we are nearing the US Open), the more many of us are wondering just how extensive Rafa’s “slump” will be. In Cincinnati a few days ago, he lost to friend and compatriot Feli Lopez in the round of 16. Before 2015, this would have been front page tennis news. Now, it’s not really news at all. And this got me thinking about something. I have come across several articles over the past couple of years highlighting the trending upward average age of tennis’ top players, Interestingly, the average age of the ATP top 20 right now is about 28. Two and three decades ago it was about five years younger…which may not seem like much to some folks…but in tennis where careers typically don’t last like they can in golf or even baseball, five years is a whole lot. In decades past, the grand slams saw a number of teenage champions. Becker and Chang taking Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively before their 18th birthdays serve as examples. How many teenagers have even come close to taking a slam in the last ten years, however? Well, Nadal conquered his first French in 2005 as he was turning 19. And that’s it! No other teenager has even made a slam semi-final appearance in the time since! Which takes me back to my musings on the current state of Rafa’s game. I’m beginning to wonder if Nadal happens to be the last of the Mohicans so to speak…a throwback to when players developed and peaked earlier…but then also began declining earlier. I wonder if we should compare Rafa not to contemporaries like Djokovic or Murray (or the amazing outlier extreme, Federer) but rather to a predecessor like Borg. Nadal talks of confidence and form and working hard to return to playing his best once again. But, when the body begins to move a fraction of a step slower than it used to, the mind and playing style can only compensate so much. I hope I’m wrong on this one, but from my own experience playing soccer, I can attest to the frustrating nature of coming to grips with the reality that is, “same level of competition…meet my aging body.” All the best to Rafa as he prepares for New York! Let’s shorten those points, go for winners more often and perhaps throw in some extra serve and volley! The sport needs this humble champion around for as long as he’s game for it! A return to the top four I don’t see…but the lifting of a few more trophies before he decides to golf and fish fulltime…a reasonable hope!

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Middle Age Workout!

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PerseveranceLet’s face it. You are no longer crashing with some other twenty something or early thirty something buddies in a rent house trying to figure out how to spend all that discretionary free time! In those days, you might have even been able to roll out of bed at eight and get to work in the nick of time by nine :) But now, you get up early and go to bed later than you want in order to manage responsibilities of family, work, home, etc. You desperately want to include some quality exercise into your weekly routine, but it just seems so hard to figure out what to do, how to do it efficiently and how to push past the initial pain so that you build perseverance and experience great long-term results. Indeed, many of us have struggled with this. But don’t be discouraged…it is doable! Requirements for a proper middle age workout are that it be short, simple and sustainable. Here is what I suggest. Begin with a six day per week schedule…say Sunday through Friday…devoting one hour Sunday and thirty minutes daily Monday through Friday. Get up at five or six AM if you need to…but schedule the time. Then work with the following splits:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Run/Lower Body Upper Body Run Lower Body Upper Body Run

Running outside is probably more exciting for most, but running on a treadmill may be more convenient for some. I use a treadmill both for convenience as well as for the health advantage of its padded deck…my knees thank me now and I trust will continue to thank me down the road! I cover between 2.5 and 3 miles during an exact thirty minute interval that includes some warm up and cool down time. I also run with a 1% to 2% incline to equate the treadmill to an outside track or path.

Moving on to weight training, here is a lower body routine to consider and one very similar to what I currently do:

Lunges Glute Bridges Calf Raises Crunches
3 X 8-15 (Each Leg) 3 X 8-15 3 X 8-15 3 X 16-30

And last but not least, here is an upper body routine to consider and one extremely similar to what I currently do:

Shoulder (Military) Presses Bench Presses Lat Pulldowns Seated Rows
3 X 8-15 3 X 8-15 3 X 8-15 3 X 8-15

As I mentioned, each of these exercise routines can be accomplished in thirty minutes with the exception of Sunday. With running, this is quite straight forward. But with weights, this only happens when one focuses on performing each rep correctly, resting optimal amounts between sets (shorter than what you would probably like) and moving from exercise to exercise in a timely manner. Of course, it goes without saying that proper rest and a healthy and balanced eating plan (I refuse to use the word, “diet”) are equally important and should be deliberately managed as well. Much more could be said regarding this workout schedule, and I am happy to go into more specifics in answering any questions. In the meantime, if you are looking for something short, simple and sustainable, give this one a try. Persevere through the initial pain of sore muscles if you have been too sedentary for a while, and look forward to the wondrous health benefits of staying long-term active in these very busy middle age years :)

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