Matt Poole reveals how to get the body of an ironman

If you're sitting at your desk, perhaps feeling a wee bit flabby around the midsection but enjoying an afternoon Coke (enough about me), gazing at photos of Matt Poole might stir up the emotions.

In particular, dead-set jealousy as you alight on the Ironman champion's washboard abs and perhaps find your own somewhat lacking in comparison.

Fear not, deskbound warriors! While you're not going to transform into an elite athlete overnight – this is the real world after all, not some shonky Facebook ad for a fitness app – there are plenty of steps you can take to start getting ripped.

Here Poole, who achieved his lifelong dream of winning the Nutri-Grain IronMan race this February, shares a few tips on how to become, well, more like him and less like you.

Find something to work towards

"There's no point training if you're just training for the sake of it," states the 28-year-old.

He suggests signing up to an event, perhaps an ocean swim, a fun run or a half or full marathon, and making that your focus.

"If you're training for nothing, it's hard to continually keep turning up, and giving the same amount of output and effort," he says.

"But if you know you've got a marathon coming up in three months time, and it's 42 kilometres, then you're wrapping your head around that. That'll be the motivation you need to not take the bus, you might put the shoes on and just walk home, run home or get home and do some sort of exercise."

Manage your time

Poole's regime sees him training up to three-and-a-half hours a day – usually a mix of early morning laps in the pool, board, ski and surf training at the beach, gym work and running.


But if you're working long hours, and perhaps juggling a young family too, he suggests setting manageable goals.

That could be as simple as setting your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier – what may seem like a sacrifice will pay dividends.

"There's no other worse feeling than becoming tired and rundown and unhealthy and overweight," he says. "When you turn that around, I guarantee your results at work will start to improve and everything will improve because you're just generally happy."

Just do it, even if it hurts at first

It's difficult to imagine Poole struggling to find inspiration to train. But he says after the off-season, it can be tough to get started.

"The best way to sort of improve your mindset is to get out there and do it," says Poole, who notes that the body has an incredible ability to adapt quickly.

"Once you start and you get yourself into a routine it might hurt for the first couple of days or it might be quite challenging and hard but … once you get the ball rolling and you lock it into your routine it'll just start to come far more naturally and your mindset will improve."

Fuel your body

Poole has the enviable problem of losing too much weight.

"I'm trying to put the weight back on just so I can keep that power and speed – through the surf break you need a lot of that sort of explosive power," he says. "We're training so much that we've got to take in so much food."

Mostly though, he focuses on eating plenty of food, and making it as healthy as possible.

Protein and carbs – think fish, chicken, steak and plenty of eggs – are high up the list. He also tries to cook at home as often as possible because he's away for large chunks of the year competing.

A little here and there

As for grog, Poole doesn't cut it out completely, believing that you've got to enjoy life, albeit in moderation.

"I get quite nervous before big events, so sometimes I love a glass of red wine just to help me sleep and to help me relax."


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Think like an ironman

Pain comes with the territory if you want to look – and think – like an Ironman.

In the last gasp of the Nutri-Grain race for instance, beating nine-time title winner Shannon Eckstein ("basically the Kelly Slater of our sport") came down to a beach sprint.

Coming off the paddleboard leg of the race, Poole's body was coursing with lactic acid.

"I almost blacked out at that stage of the race. I don't remember all that much of it all," he says.


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Listen, then tell your body shut-up

When Poole crossed the line in first place, just metres ahead of Eckstein, he virtually collapsed. But he says that's all part of being an ironman.

"We train our bodies year-round to sort of deal with pressure mentally and physically and to be able to keep going, keep pushing when everything else - your mind and body is wanting to switch off, and is telling us to stop."