Rob Garcia is the owner of Innovative Sports Therapy. He is Oscar de la Hoya's conditioning coach, and he worked with the 1996 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team. Garcia shares his training secrets with us on how to acquire a lean, mean body:
Q: What is your educational background?
A: I got my associate's degree in nutritional science, and I studied strength and conditioning at the C.H.E.K. (Corrective High-performance Exercise Kinesiology) Institute, under Paul Chek. Also, I completed a 1500-hour program at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine for my holistic health practitioner's license, so I tied the three together.
Q: How did you develop the techniques you use to train athletes?
A: Most of it is trial and error. You have a lot of theoretical knowledge that you get in school and college, and working with high-level coaches and athletes you find out real quick what is thrown out and what works in the functional environment of the sports world. So I was able to be around enough top-notch athletes and I just watched the training. I have always had a coach's eye and have been able to pick up what is very useful; some of the stuff that theoretically sounds great doesn't function between the lines when you're playing the game.
Q: Why is it so hard for people to follow a diet?
A: The thing is to get them to make good food choices. With diets, like Atkins, it's not down to that "rabbit food" anymore; it's high protein later on in the evening — if you lead an active lifestyle — and the complex and simple carbohydrates during the day when your body is going to use them for energy. And stay away from the sweets at night 'cause that will do you in. If you're gonna have sweets, it's better to have them right after lunch; if you're going to have a busy afternoon, you'll have a chance to burn that energy up.
Q: What kind of conditioning regimen would you recommend for a woman who just gave birth? Any waist exercises you can recommend?
A: A lot of what we do for the fighters is to improve midsection strength, that core strength as they call it in the health world. The old medicine-ball routine — something that's old is new again — is great; we have been using the medicine ball in boxing for years. As long as you keep your spine in an upright position with the knees bent you can do many rotational, twisting drills with those 5-, 10- or 15-pound medicine balls, and it really does a great job of tightening up your midsection.
Oscar and I go through a number of routines of just bend and twist, bend and twist with the ball, and I will have him out there for a full three-minute round — 30 seconds of bending, 30 seconds of side bending and 30 seconds of twisting. That firms up your ab section and your arms, too. A lot of that crunching stuff is good, but the thing is if you shorten your abs by doing a lot crunches, you encourage dowager's hump. Bringing that chin forward in your line of gravity is not good for your posture.
Q: Describe the basic daily meal plan you give fighters.
A:Breakfast: Soy milk, Special K and strawberries.
Snack: Sliced green apple and a drink called Sidomax (i.e., a carb drink before workout).
Lunch: Skinless chicken breast, stir-fried with olive oil, broccoli and carrots, and brown rice.
Dinner: Protein drink, yogurt, half a banana and skim milk.
Note: I give Oscar protein in the evening because the body is rebuilding everything that he's torn down in the course of the day. I recommend eating four to five small meals a day.
Q: How should we nonfighters eat?
A: I would just say to have your grains in the morning — cereals and things of that nature — whether it's granola or rice cereal. Have your fruits throughout the day with your lunch and breakfast and proteins at night with sensible complex carbohydrates, like pasta with sliced broccoli, tomatoes and some olive oil. On the weekends go ahead and eat whatever you wish so you don't feel like you are depriving yourself.
Stay on your cardio training. That is important for women. In order to keep that body fat percentage low, get with the cardio, whether it's boxercising, step aerobics, swimming or jumping rope. The cardio and the diet are gonna be the key. If you don't even mess with the weights, do your yoga (i.e., you stretch), get your 30 minutes of cardio in, and key into what you are eating, you'll get results very quickly.