Pump it like Murray: How Andy beefed up

At his last Wimbledon he was a wilting weed. Now he's taking on Nadal in the battle of the biceps. So how did Andy Murray beef up? Paul Newman finds out

Andy Murray performed abysmally in the first of his warm-up exercises at the Wimbledon practice courts yesterday. As many leading sportsmen will tell you, the trickiest drills of the day are avoiding the autograph hunter and dodging the camera. Britain's leading tennis player failed spectacularly at both.

Just 15 hours after completing his thrilling fourth-round victory over Richard Gasquet, in near-darkness on Monday night, Murray was the focus of attention at Aorangi Park. Roger Federer and Marat Safin were also going through their routines, but all camera lenses were trained on Murray, who was accompanied by three of the most important members of his large entourage.

Miles Maclagan, Murray's coach, is always by his side, but in his moment of victory over Gasquet, the 21-year-old Scot's first thought was to send a gesture of thanks to Jez Green and Matt Little, the two fitness trainers who have done so much to improve his physical condition. Looking up to his support team, Murray rolled up a sleeve to show his bulging biceps.

"I've been putting in so much work off the court and it was the first time this year I've really had the chance to show it," he said later. "I just wanted to show that there are some muscles there."

In his first two years as a professional, Murray was a classic gangling teenager, though it was a conscious decision not to work too hard on his physique. "When you're 16 or 17, I think you need to be careful not to do too many weights because you're growing a lot," he said.

"Your muscles and your bones are still developing and it's easy to develop stress fractures or chronic problems. I eased off a little bit at that age. I spent a lot of time on court and not as much in the gym. Now I'm getting in the gym a lot and maybe not spending as much time on the court."

Three years ago, at his first Wimbledon, Murray led David Nalbandian by two sets but lost in five after suffering cramp in the closing stages. Cramp also cost him dearly in other matches, and when Brad Gilbert started coaching him two summers ago, the American encouraged him to work hard on his fitness. Murray consequently enjoyed his best start to a season and climbed into the world's top 10 before a wrist injury scuppered his hopes at Wimbledon last year.

After splitting from Gilbert last autumn, Murray decided to take his fitness work even more seriously and worked slavishly at a winter training camp in Florida with Green and Little. Andy Ireland, a physiotherapist, has also become a vital member of Team Murray.

Tennis requires a combination of physical attributes. The modern game, with its punishing schedule and high levels of fitness, is as much a test of strength as of skill. Players need the endurance to last through numerous long matches (the win against Gasquet took nearly four hours), speed to fly around the court and sheer physical power to hit shots. Of the exercises that Murray has been doing, the most punishing are the chin-ups that he performs with a 20kg disc attached to his waist, a flat-out 400- metre run and 20 sprints of 100 metres over a period of 20 minutes.

Green and Little have also introduced Murray to Bikram or "hot" yoga, in which exercises are performed in 40C heat to help with mental strength and to prepare for matches in high temperatures.

"I did some tough fitness work in the off-season and that's one of the hardest things to do," Murray said. "Just trying to hold postures and stay balanced and concentrated the whole time is really tough.

"Some of the training things I did made me realise how easy playing a tennis match was. When you do 10 400-metre sprints in the space of 10 or 15 minutes, and you're feeling like you're ready to throw up, that's when it helps you on the court.

"I know as I get to 22 or 23, I am going to get stronger. Right now, I need to do that by working really hard. Even if it is just a little work on your off days, it all adds up.

"I've become much more professional this year. I've travelled with a fitness trainer to every tournament so that I could keep on top of everything and I've also had a physio travelling with me."

Murray, who is tee-total, is also careful about what and when he eats. The importance of eating properly after exercise has become a key part of sports nutrition and, during his post-match press conference on Monday, Murray tucked into a plate of sushi.

Green recommends that Murray eats foods like sushi within 30 minutes of finishing long matches or training sessions. "It's a perfect mix of protein and carbohydrates," he said. "These rebuild his muscles and provide energy for subsequent matches. As he has been physically training really hard, his diet has become more and more important, especially in increasing his body weight." Six-foot-three and already weighing 12st 7lb, having put on more than half a stone over the winter, Murray believes he needs to add the same amount again to reach his optimum weight.

Will his body ever match that of the muscular Spaniard Rafael Nadal, his quarter-final opponent this afternoon?

"You've not seen me with my shirt off," Murray smiled. "I'm probably not going to be as big as him, but in terms of definition I think I'm up there. I measured my body fat recently and I was 6.5 per cent, which isn't bad."

Flex appeal: fitness secrets of the sports stars

Paula Radcliffe

After she won her sensational victory in the European 10,000 metres, Paula Radcliffe revealed the secret to her success: a 10-minute ice bath after every race. "It's absolute agony, and I dread it, but it allows my body to recover so much more quickly," she said. In her case, though, pain may not necessarily mean gain – a recent Australian study found that cold baths could do more harm than good.

Joe Calzaghe

Boxers aren't known for their complex training programmes – and Calzaghe is no exception. Speaking earlier this year before his fight with Bernard Hopkins, he said: "All I need for a training camp is my dad; a mountain to climb up; clean, fresh air; a boxing ring; and plenty of sparring partners. That's it plain and simple. No other experts required."

Linford Christie

Even by the standards of 1992, when he won Olympic gold in Barcelona, Linford Christie used some surprisingly low-tech training methods. He would often tie a 25kg tyre to a rope, which he attached to a harness, and drag the tyre drag behind him on training runs. And as a boy in London's Shepherd's Bush, he would race the school bus home ... don't knock it, he's still the 100 metre British record holder.

Kelly Sotherton

The Olympic bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton goes beyond standard heptathlon training by using a computer programme to train her sight: "In hurdling, sighting [the bars] quickly enables me to deliver the skill better."

Jenson Button

You could be forgiven for thinking that Jenson Button won't have to exert himself too much this weekend as he cruises around Silverstone race circuit in his million-pound car. But Formula One drivers are among the fittest sportsmen – their bodies have to endure 60 laps of punishing G-forces pulling them in all directions. So, Button goes beyond the demands made of him by his Honda team by competing in gruelling triathlons. Last week his completed the 42km cycle ride, 500m river swim and 10km circuit run of the Windsor triathlon.

Geoff Capes

Nutrition has always played a big role in athletes' fitness regimes. Even back in the Seventies, Geoff Capes, on the advice of his trainer and ex-Olympic hurdler Stuart Storey, used to eat samphire, a mineral-rich seaweed from the Lincolnshire coast. But Capes had a more ill-advised strategy for getting ahead – he started weighlifting when he was 11.

Rafael Nadal

Andy Murray is a brave man to claim that he can win the battle of the biceps against Rafael Nadal's pumped-up muscles. Nadal might have been plagued by a chronic foot problem and tendonitis in both knees, but the strength of his biceps has never been in doubt. The secret it seems is to start training early – Nadal started playing tennis aged 11. Those biceps are due to time on court rather than in the gym. His left arm is bigger than his right; had he pumped up in a gym, he wouldn't be so out of balance.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower