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2015-09-22 10:05:00 CEST

Training to Win

Is the coveted ‘beach body’ an actual fitness goal for beach athletes or is it the result of high performance training? We dig in with U.S.A. Strength & Conditioning Sport Physiologist, Timothy Pelot, to discuss that and more.

To achieve their goals on court, the athletes have to train even harder off court. Photocredit: Studio HorstTo achieve their goals on court, the athletes have to train even harder off court. Photocredit: Studio Horst

It’s no secret that the goal of every pro beach athlete is to be the best. Every team strives to increase the level of their game and get on the podium - but what does that take in a sport where your opponents are all highly skilled and extremely athletic? It all comes down to how well you train and prepare your body for execution on the court.

Timothy Pelot, Strength & Conditioning Sport Physiologist for the US Olympic Committee has trained and continues to work with many of the top US men’s and women’s beach athletes over the past 6 years. His job is to put each and every one of them in a position to hear America’s national anthem played atop podiums at beaches all over the world - and ultimately to win gold every four years in the Summer Olympic Games. Top athletes like Jake Gibb, Casey Patterson, April Ross, and Jen Kessy rely on Tim and other trainers at one of two Olympic training facilities in California to take their game to the next level. Tim has also worked with names like Nick Lucena, Ryan Doherty and Theo Brunner in the past - all U.S beach athletes at the top of their game.

The typical off-season resting period for any of the top U.S. pro beach athletes is about two weeks. That’s right - two weeks. Two weeks doesn’t seem like enough time to finish a good book or Netflix all 7 seasons of Sons of Anarchy, much-less recover from a grueling eight month world tour on 20 beaches around the globe. That bit of info alone gives you a good idea of the kind of dedication these athletes have to put forth in order to be the best.

“It’s not enough to be physically fit or in-shape anymore,” Tim says, “The level of world competition is so high right now that it takes targeted, intelligent training blocks to focus on every aspect of a beach athlete’s physical needs on the court. My job is to take these athletes and push their physical peak performance while protecting the longevity and sustainability of their careers on the sand,” he stated. “Often times this includes working through illness, age, and recovering from injuries in and out of season.”

In a recent visit to the American Olympic training facility in Anaheim, CA we sat down with Tim and observed his training of two-time Olympian Jake Gibb and his partner Casey Patterson who are positioned to take a run at the RIO Olympics in 2016. They are also the only U.S Team (men or women) to qualify for the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale.

Tim Pelot (right) pushes U.S. pro beach athlete Jake Gibb (left) through some intense resistance conditioning. Photo credit: Josh GlazebrookTim Pelot (right) pushes U.S. pro beach athlete Jake Gibb (left) through some intense resistance conditioning. Photo credit: Josh Glazebrook

While Tim was pushing Jake to finish his intervals, Casey weighed in on what Tim’s training has done for his career on the beach. “I came on board with Timothy as my full-time strength coach in 2013 and committed 100% to the science behind advanced conditioning here. Tim has given me the ability to be stronger, healthier and better conditioned than I have ever been in my seven years on the beach. The detailed planning, gym time, constant contact and accountability have taken my game to the next level - preparing me for the Swatch Beach Finals and the Olympics in RIO next year. I would never have had a shot at RIO if it weren’t for Tim and the USOC investing in us as elite athletes. At the age of 35 I like to say that Tim has made me the “Benjamin Button of beach volleyball.”

Performance vs Physique

When asked about the ‘beach body’ and the much-desired look that beach athletes have, Pelot’s response was simple. “The beach body you see on these athletes is really designed for performance, speed and transferring force. The way we condition, with really hard intervals at a very high intensity, really helps the core and torso to tighten up. This usually results in long muscle tone, lean abs and very low body fat. Don’t get me wrong”, he added, “these athletes are training harder than anyone out there, but the overall physique achieved is not a body building technique. The tight, lean, shredded result is what an athlete needs to get rapid and explosive movement on the sand.”

Tim indicated that the most common questions he is approached with from those outside the sport are regarding jumping higher and achieving the ‘beach body’ look. He smiled and said, “in all reality there is no easy answer from an advanced conditioning standpoint. You can google ‘beach body’ or search for ‘abs in 30 days’ and see so many techniques out there. That’s not what we are about here though. Performance is always the number one focus. If I had to outline several of our focus points, they are: long warmups to explosive lifting sessions, core strength workouts based on rotation/anti-rotation, conditioning metabolic activity, diet and nutrition, and managing injuries/physical limitations throughout the season. With each of these areas being custom tailored to each athlete and needs of each on offense and defense.”

A special thanks to

Tim and his team for an inside look at how the US Athletes are conditioned to be top performers on the world tour. For more information and insights on USA high performance strength/training & conditioning, follow Tim on twitter: @tpelot7

Beach bodies and incredible athletic performances will both be on display during the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals from Sept. 29 to Oct. 4, 2015 on the beach in Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA. Come experience the best that the sport of beach volleyball has to offer. General admission is free. VIP tickets and package experiences are available. #SwatchWTFinalsUSA