Fitness role models: Week Three - Jessica Ennis-Hill

January 22 2015

We have an ultra-special fitness role model for you this week, championing not just one sport but seven. If you are lacking motivation then this person is guaranteed to ignite your inspiration.

Bounding into week three is Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill!

Why should I emulate this person?

It would be difficult not to notice the impact Jessica Ennis-Hill has had on the sporting world over the last decade. She shot to fame as a world-class multi-event athlete, famous for her heptathlon skills including, high jump, long jump, shot put, javelin, 100-metre hurdles, as well as 200-metre and 800-metre races.

It is her continued dedication to the sport that makes her such an admirable star. After just having given birth to her son last summer, Ennis-Hill is back to a rigorous training regime as she prepares to return on top form in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

What makes Ennis-Hill so special?

Jessica Ennis-Hill has had a whirlwind decade where she has pushed the boundaries of her personal best. At the risk of sounding like a never-ending list of achievements, she has consistently improved her performance, winning four gold, two silver and one bronze medal throughout her career.

She first made her debut in 2005, when she won the European Junior Championships title. She improved the national junior record to 5,891 points, and she went on to win bronze at the World University Games, improving the record again to 5,910 points. Ennis-Hill further surprised spectators at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, scoring 6,269 points to win the bronze medal in Melbourne before ranking eighth in the European Championships, with 6,287 points.

Jessica finished sixth with a personal best of 4,716 points during the European Indoor Championships. She went on to smash her lifetime best by three times in the indoor campaign.
In the Desenzano del Garda Games in Italy, Ennis-Hill matched the British high jump record of 1.95m, scoring 6,388 points before adding another 11 points to her personal best at the European Cup in Szczecin. However, during the World Championships in Osaka 2007, Ennis-Hill finished in fourth despite achieving a personal best of 6,469 points.

In 2009, Ennis-Hill improved upon her lifetime best by achieving 6,587 points at Desenzano del Garda, completing her brilliant performance with a personal best in the 800m of 2:09.88. This moved her to third on the all-time list of UK athletes, with a score which was only defeated by renowned heptathlon champions Denise Lewis and Judy Simpson. This was a great result for Ennis-Hill, especially after she was forced to miss the 2008 Beijing Olympics due to an ankle injury.

She continued her glory into the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, recording an all-time best of 6,731 points. She also took home the IAAF world indoor pentathlon title in Doha with a score of 4,937 points, while producing an early-season victory in the heptathlon in Gotzi despite bad weather conditions. As the favourite of the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona, she won in yet another lifetime best of 6,823 points.

At the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, she regretfully took home silver after a below-par javelin cost her vital points. But a year later in 2012, Jessica exceeded herself in the Olympic heptathlon with a British record of 6,955. She also achieved a stellar performance in the 100m hurdles, stopping the clock at 12.54 for another victory for Britain.

As you can see, there’s one clear theme that runs through Ennis-Hill’s career, and that is continuous improvement. If her incredible adaptability and sheer determination to get better doesn’t inspire you, then we’re not sure what will.


How does she do it?

Jessica Ennis-Hill’s trainer, Tony Minichiello, once advised the Runners World website of Jess’ regime, stating that she works on two areas, speed and strength.

Minichiello stated that speed was a crucial element to Jessica’s success, as it is necessary for every event in the heptathlon. Jess practises very short speed reps (4 x 40m sprints), then has a period of recovery (3 minutes) before completing over reps (4 x 300m sprints), where she runs further than the required distance before another rest (6 minutes). The short speed reps prepare her for short bursts of intense exercise, while the over reps are performed to allow Jess to have confidence that she can run over distance at a rapid speed, rather than getting tired towards the end of the race.

Strength is vital to improve the efficiency of the upper and lower body, which will lead to faster running and more controlled arm movements. Minichiello told Runner’s World that Jess completes a variety of strength exercises such as medicine ball throws, squats and foot tap and arm tap planks to build up her upper and lower body and core. Incorporating weights into your training can help you to build up strong muscles, which will benefit your performance.

What’s her secret weapon?

Jessica Ennis-Hill and other athletes competing in rapid sports, like the heptathlon, have to condition their bodies to perform at great speeds instantaneously. Ensuring that your body is fully warmed up is the best way to guarantee that it will respond quickly to the physical activity you are putting it through.

A warm up is called a warm up for a reason, with the desired intention to warm your muscles so that their flexibility is increased. It’s important to try and avoid stretching cold muscles, as they can contract and cause injury. Allow yourself a 10-minute warm up prior to exercising, enabling the muscles you are going to be working on to become responsive to exercise.

It is equally as important to make sure that your muscles have cooled down adequately so that you can recover faster and avoid injury after your training sessions. Opt for a light jog at a reduced pace, aiming to slowly lower your heart rate until you are at brisk walking speed. Finish your workout by stretching those muscles. A massage a few times a week is ideal for reducing tension and soreness in the muscles, if this is not possible, using a foam roller to smooth out tender muscles works just as well.

We’re not saying that by going to the gym you’ll eventually turn out to be arguably one of the greatest female Olympians Britain has ever produced. However, even Jessica Ennis-Hill had to start somewhere. If you feel inspired to get fit and healthy, why not give us a try? Join now

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