Written by Maya Winters
It is important to understand what elite athletes, like those on TeamJTS, currently do in their training, isn’t what they’ve always done. As you evolve from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced, your training must evolve as well. This series is designed to give you a glimpse into the evolution of TeamJTS athlete’s training…
In elementary and middle school, kids would show up to school with their various athletic club t-shirts (local youth sports teams). I longed to be a part of an organized team sport. Often, I imagined trudging with my mates in an organized regiment of suicides, tactical drills, and game prep. However, formal athletic training did not come into my life until my High School years.
My stature was not favorable for endurance or speed-based sports. For the most part, I was bigger and stronger than my peers, so I sought out a sport that favored my strengths. My dad introduced me to the shot-put when I was nine. I did not practice often, but I felt comfortable enough to go out for the indoor track team in high school. Indoor track practice looked like this:
Monday – Friday: Throws (shot-put and discus) were practiced daily (volume varied leading up to meet prep)
Monday & Wednesday: Weight room sessions (more pressing than anything-honestly the regiment was more self-prescribed)
Friday: Stair sprints and traditional sprint work
During my junior year of high school, I topped out at 240lbs. Not feeling athletic at all, I went to the local YMCA and started working with a trainer. I was essentially following a traditional bodybuilding template in order to simply lose a great deal of weight. My throwing (shot-put and discus) picked up, and within the “throwing circle,” my speed increased.
One day while I was lifting at the YMCA, a middle-aged woman approached me and insisted that I would make a great rugby player. I literally ran home and found the phone number of a rugby coach for a local college. I was informed that the team was a college club–no high school students–so, I fervently waited two years!
Rugby training, the way I experienced it, was not the most sport-specific. Offseason consisted of running and the same bodybuilder-like training. I ignorantly engaged in endurance runs over the more functional option of sprints. Hardly any of my teammates lifted! During college, I threw shot-put and “the weight” for a year but continued with rugby training.
Monday: Run independently, Upper Body
Tuesday: Practice, 1 mile run, tactical play, conditioning (rugby fartlek), and CONTACT play
Wednesday: Lower Body
Thursday: Practice, 1 mile run, tactical play, conditioning (rugby fartlek), and CONTACT play
Friday: 1 mile run and Conditioning (If we had a game on Saturday, we performed light tactical play)
I played women’s collegiate and DI women’s club rugby simultaneously for one year, and continued playing women’s club rugby after I graduated. Over the course of 13 years, my training varied little. While I became more knowledgeable about rugby and could wrestle my way around the field, my training was not exemplary.
I started incorporating powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and strongman training at the age of 30 – better late than never. It looked something like this:
Monday: Hang power-cleans, Barbell shrugs, Back Squat, Glute ham raise, Standing calf raise, Standing abs
Wednesday: Push-press, Bench press, Incline dumbbell bench, Dips, Tire flips, Sled pulls
Friday: Cleans, Deadlifts, Front squat, Pull-ups, Hammer low rows, Prowler push, Standing abs
I competed in a couple of strongman comps which required me to add one more training session into the works, so I added my event training on Saturday. I soon learned that I had to shift my training days in order to avoid fatigue from deadlifting one day prior. Leading up to my current training, I completed a cycle of smolov, experimented with a Sheiko blend, completed a cycle of the early Juggernaut program (loved the volume), and ran through a cycle of the Iron Sport Method.
In prepping for nationals (2012), I knew I would have to train smart and heavy. I contacted Jill Mills 6 weeks prior to nationals that year. She prescribed training that allowed me to touch on each of the events during each training session.
Day 1: Trap Bar (from 18”) 240 kg – 60 sec for reps, 150kg x 2 x 6-8 x 60 sec
Box Squats (wide stance) – 220 8×3 – 60 sec rest
BB Stiff Leg DL 3×8-10 and abs
Day 2: BB Complex: 5 cleans, 5 presses, 5 high pulls x 5 rounds
BB Strict press – Max reps x 2 sets
Dips – 3x Max reps
Day 3: Yoke/Frame Medley 2 rounds (20m)
Husafell Stone – 2 runs for distance
Atlas Stones – 220lbs-200lbs for mass reps in 75 sec to contest height
*Conditioning was incorporated and front squats were situated on alternating contest prep weeks.
Maya Camille Winters, based out of Philadelphia, started her 13 year rugby career at West Chester University, then joined Philadelphia Women’s Rugby team, and finally played for Keystone Women’s Rugby Team (Women’s Premier League).
In 2009, Highland games legend and strongman Steve Pulcinella (owner of Iron Sport Gym) instilled a confidence in Maya that set her on the path to becoming the 2012 middle weight champion of North American Strongman and 2nd place raking in the Strongman Fitness World Championship.