We recently published a little piece on the type of training schedule followed by Korean pro and wannabe-pro sabre fencers.
This was considered by many to be mildly demotivating. Yes, doing amazing stuff on the piste is fun and winning is cool. But what hope is there for the enormous majority who can’t dedicate 16 hours a day to intensive physical training (plus naps)?
We decided to get out and talk to some other successful teams.
Let’s start with the guys who beat Korea in the 2014 World Champs. They seem like a good data set.
We had a chat about training schedules with Max Hartung, who’s about to finish a politics and economy degree, has been interning in the European parliament and won bronze in both individual and team at Moscow.
FC: When did you start fencing? When did you start taking it seriously?
MH: Age 8. My coach was very serious about it from the start and I won my first competition as a kid. Very serious 9-year-old business after that.
FC: How much did you train when you were in school?
MH: I practised 5 times a week for ca. 2 hours when I was 13. Practice and training camps on weekends more and more until I graduated high school.
FC: Did you play any other sports seriously at any time?
MH: No. There was not time from the start.
Aw, not true. I played in the varsity soccer high school team in Minneapolis and got second in the state championship.
FC: What sort of cross training do you do?
MH: Running, athletics, jumps. Stability, core, power exercises. Short exercises, no marathons.
FC: What age did you turn pro? What exactly did that entail?
MH: I turned pro after I became junior world champion in 2009 and was in an army sports program. After 2012 I decided that I wanted to pursue my professional career as well, so I dropped from the army and started uni.
This year I took my fencing more seriously and my preparation for worlds started in April.
FC: What was your training like in the lead up to worlds? What’s your normal schedule?
MH: 2-3 times a week athletics. 5-6 times a week fencing and fencing related exercises. Each session is 2 – 2.5 hours.
A regular fencing practice is warm up, often soccer, and footwork, exercises from easy to complicated and fencing after. I get three lessons 30-45 minutes a week.
FC: What’s your rest and recovery program like?
MH: I try not to have too many gin and tonics.
There you have it, boys and girls.
Of course, it helps if you’re 190cm tall, a champion athlete, train at a dedicated facility with a professional squad and a full coaching and support crew, and started your competitive career at the age of 9.
In our next instalment, we’ll be looking at options for those of us who maybe are more than 25 years old and don’t physically resemble something out of a comic book.