Jessica Ennis is Britain’s leading heptathlon athlete. The Heptathlon consists of 7 track and field events; 100m Hurdles, The High Jump, Shot Put, 200m Sprint, The Long Jump, Javelin Throw and the 800m run. Athletes must not only be fast and agile, but also strong – it is the true test of athletic strength, speed and endurance.
Jessica is from Sheffield, England and trains at the City of Sheffield Athletic Club. She is 165 cm (5 ft 5) tall and weighs around 57 kg (130 pounds).
She started athletics when her parents took her to a ‘StartTrack’ event during her school summer holidays in 1996, when she was 10 years old. StartTrack is UK’s grassroots athletics programme designed to introduce 8 to 15 year olds to athletics. It was at this event that Jessica met her trainer, Toni Minichiello.
Jessica turned pro in 2005. By 2006 she had won bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. She missed Beijing due to a foot injury, but recovered and in 2009 she won the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge with a personal best of 6,587 points.
Berlin World Championships
Jessica Ennis has won Britain’s first ever heptathlon gold medal at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. She dominated the entire competition from start to finish. The 26-year-old from Sheffield was just awesome in Berlin, and completed the Heptathlon event by winning the 800m to finish on 6731 points, 238 clear of Germany’s Jennifer Oeser.
Building A Great Heptathlete
Only the best all round athletes can compete in the Heptathlon. Contestants require strength for the javelin and shot put, plus speed and agility in the high jump, hurdles and 200m sprint, and endurance for the 800m.
Circuit training is going to play a large role in conditioning for a heptathlon event. Lots of bodyweight training, including push ups, pull ups and core exercises. Weight training is needed to increase upper body strength for the shot put and javelin throws.
Obviously running will have to play a large part. A lot of stretching is also required to prevent injury, and to train the body to remain supple throughout an event. Ceasing up before the 800m could turn a gold medal contender to a loser in a matter of minutes.
Jessica Ennis’ Six Pack
The thing that most athletic fans first notice when watching Jessica Ennis for the first time is her amazing “6 pack”. Many people work hard to develop a 6 pack, purely for aesthetic purposes. What is impressive about Jessica, and most athletes, is that they do not train to gain a six pack – they train to improve sporting performance.
However, the nature of the training – full body workouts, endurance cardio training, weight training, core training and interval training, combined with a healthy diet, will lead to the development of a 6 pack. In short, Jessica does nothing extra for her abs – they are just the result of all the hard work that she does in the gym and on the track.
Weight Training Routines for Heptathlon
Without doubt weight training is a key part to successful heptathlon training, and power lifting forms a vital part of the training. The whole body needs to be worked to ensure a high level of athletic strength and muscular endurance.
It is best to split the body up into sections so that weight training workouts can be split to allow skills training (jumping, throwing, sprinting) and endurance training, without risk of overtraining.
- Biceps: Perform various curls, including standard bicep curls, hammer curls & concentration curls
- Triceps: Triceps power the arms, so perform tricep dips, tricep kickbacks, tricep extensions, and skull crushers
- Chest: A mixture of Bench press, Chest press, Chest fly, Pushups to build functional strength in the chest
- Back: Push ups, pull ups, rear flyes, bent over row, straight legged dead lifts
- Shoulders: Perform lateral raises, front raises, military presses, overhead presses
- Abdominals: Core strength training is always vital – Weighted crunches, Bicycles, Hanging leg raises
- Glutes, Hamstrings and Quads: Squat, Lunges, Walking lunges, Straight leg dead lifts
- Calves: Calf raises and toe raises
Obviously every athlete will require different workouts, and do not forget that good nutrition is vital to ensuring that you get maximum gains from your workouts, and achieve the fastest recovery possible.
Like many other athletes today, Jessica Ennis takes ice baths after workouts to speed muscle recovery. In the photo to the left Jessica is standing in a dustbin filled with ice and water while chatting to her coach and team.
Ice baths are thought to aid recovery by boosting blood flow to the muscles. While taking the ice bath blood flow is reduced, but once you leave the ice bath the body overcompensates by sending more blood than usual. It is the blood that carries oxygen and nutrients to the muscles to help repair and regenerate muscle tissue.
- City of Sheffield Athletic Club
- Start Track – UK Athletics
- Jessicaennis.net – her own website, and her Twitter page, @J_Ennis
- How Jessica Ennis likes to ‘chill’ after races– BBC News, 29 May 2012.
- Photo from the BBC News article “How Jessica Ennis likes to ‘chill’ after races”.
This article was originally written on 17th August 2009.