Training Day with Mayank Agarwal: The importance of fitness and the role of Fast&Up in his career
It is safe to say that Mayank Agarwal is a confident young man who is enjoying his cricket. Coming off an extremely successful debut Test series for India against Australia and his best IPL season in terms of runs scored, Agarwal is feeling really confident about his game and the methods that helped him get into a state of physical fitness that could elevate his performance levels and show where he truly belongs.
He scored 332 runs at a strike rate of 142, both career high figures in what was a bittersweet season for him in the IPL. Although Punjab did not make it through to the playoffs, Mayank Agarwal showcased his ever evolving ability to adapt to the situation and do well in T20s, as he ended the season as the third highest run-scorer for his team.
This capped off a two-year spell in which he excelled in domestic cricket, scoring 2141 runs in the 2017/18 season in all tournaments combined, the highest ever total for a single season. That included 1,160 runs in the Ranji Trophy and 723 runs in the Vijay Hazare trophy, breaking the record for most runs in a campaign in the latter.
Making the Indian Test squad for the home series against West Indies was proof that his hard work had been recognised and that he would get his chance to play for the country soon. That came in the series in Australia, where he impressed in the three innings he played, scoring 76 on debut in Melbourne, before bettering that total with a 77 in Sydney.
However, success did not come the easy way for Mayank, who had to go through a lean patch in his career in the 2014/15 season, when he was dropped from the Karnataka team. That proved to be his wake-up call as he worked extremely hard on his fitness to get back into the team and has since gone from strength to strength.
We spoke to him about his career, how he trains and how important a role Fast&Up have played in helping him improve his fitness levels:
How would you summarise the 2019 IPL from a Kings XI Punjab perspective?
I think we lost the key moments in games, despite dominating games overall. We felt like we were the dominant team in most matches but because we lost the key moments, we couldn't convert our dominance into points.
The 2017/18 season marked the turning point of your career. What were the changes in your preparation and how did you prepare accordingly?
I had been hitting the ball well, batting well in general but couldn't register big scores. That changed in the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons when I was able to score a lot of runs. My preparation was based on which format I was playing, so it was a combination of how I prepared for all different formats.
From a training perspective, I did a lot of long distance running and power work, to build my stamina and strength. To work on my skill, my focus was to bat long hours, so I used to hit a lot of balls in practice. Essentially, all the work was catered to help me stick to my game plan and adapt to situations accordingly.
How would your preparations change according to the format you were playing?
Of course, if I'm playing first-class cricket, which is four-day cricket, the focus would be on spending long hours at the crease, minimising risk and waiting for loose balls. If I'm playing T20 cricket, I always go in with a game plan, but adapt according to the situation in the middle. There is always a game plan to be followed and each player has a certain role. However, assessing the situation is very important and then you have to adapt to what the situation demands.
How does your training and preparation change as you move closer towards a series?
Say if we are one week away from a series, I would look to bat long hours but it depends on the series I am playing. Whether it is test cricket or one day cricket or the IPL, I focus on batting long hours but keep an eye on the conditions that we could expect based on where the series is being played. As we approach a series or a match, I just do top-ups like batting in the nets and preparing myself mentally, getting good rest, to stay ready for the match.
On average, how much time daily would you spend on physical fitness during the season?
Depending on the format, my training changes but I spend roughly around an hour and a half training daily during the season. So if I'm playing T20 cricket, it would involve a lot of gym work and power work. Also, I work on my core and some short sprints, to help my explosiveness. If I'm playing four-day cricket, there would be strength training and conditioning, with long distance runs to keep the endurance good. Of course some stretching to help my core, that would be about an hour and a half.
How important has diet become to stay fit, especially for a cricketer?
Diet plays an extremely important role now. The intensity at which cricket is being played is very high and the game continues to evolve tremendously. Having a well-nourished body, taking care of what you eat, understanding what your body needs and keeping your goals in mind are all very important and need to be acknowledged.
If my goal is to reduce weight, I would reduce carbohydrates a lot and make my diet more protein oriented. But if I'm playing a game, I would need energy so carbohydrates consumed would be higher in quantity. A well-nourished body will always help you perform better and it's very important to take care of that.
How have you incorporated Fast&Up nutritional supplements in your diet and how has that influenced your training regimen?
I've been using fish oil and BCAA for some time now. The former is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acid and helps you stay healthy and maintain good functioning of the immune system. BCAA is important because it replenishes electrolytes and vitamins lost during workout and helps muscle strength, prevents injury and gives a boost to your endurance.
I take the Fast&Up Fortify supplement morning and evening daily, as it boosts my Calcium and Magnesium levels and keeps bones healthy and strong. I also take Reload during my workouts as it keeps me hydrated and allows me to push myself during my training. Apart from these, I also take the Fast&Up Vitalize product to ensure I do not fall short on essential vitamins.
All of these, I try and have as and when needed. So like the Fortify supplement, I try and have fish oil twice a day as well. Reload helps replenish nutrients during workouts and keeps me hydrated to help me continue pushing myself more.
Have you noticed changes in your training and fitness since you started using Fast&Up supplements?
Actually, I have, yes, especially with Fast&Up Reload and BCAA. I found that both the products helped me recover faster from my workout, especially BCAA. And Reload helped me push myself to do more, to train further, because it replenishes nutrients quickly and keep me hydrated. They help me perform better.
For example, say I am in the gym doing weight work or doing some long distance running, I have seen that I am able to lift better now and run much more without getting tired as quickly as I was earlier.
What are your favourite Fast&Up products?
I would say the Calcium and Magnesium supplements, Fortify and of course, Fast&Up Reload, I really enjoy the taste of that.
You made your debut for India last year. Did your strong performance for India help you do better in the IPL this year?
Yeah, I think so. Although the formats were different, I think playing for India helped me personally as I approached the IPL. Getting those runs in Australia made me feel more confident going into the IPL and it made a big difference. The confidence of playing international cricket, considering the intensity at which it is played, gives you a measure of where you are and helps your confidence.