On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
Anthony Minichiello has lived a life-long pursuit of fitness. “I grew up on a farm so movement is a massive part of my life,” the former Sydney Roosters player told Balance the Grind. “It’s just ingrained in me that movement and exercise is something I value and we know how important that is for everyone’s bodies.”
Born in Liverpool in South Western Sydney, Anthony began playing rugby league for East Valley United before he was recruited by the Roosters’ Arthur Beetson, a rugby league Immortal, who signed the young player to the foundation club.
Over the course of his rugby career playing for the Roosters, as well as representing New South Wales State of Origin team, Italian national team and Australian national team, Anthony distinguished him time and time again as one of the finest players on the field.
In addition to winning the 2002 and 2013 NRL Premierships as part of the Roosters, Anthony also won the Golden Boot Award for international player of the year in 2005 and upon retiring in 2014, he had set the records for the most games and most tries in the club’s history.
Since his retirement, Anthony has continued to be a strong advocate for health and fitness, founding MINIFIT, a platform that he delivers live and on-demand content in fitness, nutrition & lifestyle.
Balance the Grind had the opportunity to chat with Anthony for our daily routine series, where we discussed his training routine and diet as an elite rugby player, how his approach to nutrition has changed over the years, his morning routine now as the founder of MINIFIT, and how he maintains balance in his life.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
On how his daily routine changed from the beginning of his rugby career towards the end of it
When I was younger in my early 20s the pre-hab or prep before training was non-existent. You would just wake up and eat breakfast and go straight to training and get straight on the field. As I got older and realised how important preparation and recovery was to my body and the food I put in it, my routine really changed.
Towards the end of my career I would wake up at least 1.5 hours before training and I would do a simple stretch routine on the floor, foam rolling, and prepare my smoothies for the day (1 for breakfast and 1 for after weights). Then I would get to the training HQ and then from training HQ if you have a field session on-site at 10am in the gym you get to the training ground at quarter past 9 am doing some pre-hab work getting the body ready to go out and train.
After that you would come back at lunchtime after the session to do a hot and cold ice bath and then have lunch then jump in the gym. From the gym, you’ll go straight to the wrestle room and then you’ll do some wrestling techniques. Then you go back to the ice baths and finish off the day.
This is more like pre-season training but once you get to game day and in season you’re doing preview and review. So that weaves in throughout the day so it’s a full day’s work and training from 8:30am to 5-6pm.
On his rugby training schedule
So on-field skill development training, teamwork, all that type of stuff, ball-skills, ball-work are really important obviously because that’s what we do out on the field. So we have to practise sometimes at overspeed, we have to practise sometimes at lower speed depending on how much work you’ve done that week and how hard the game was over the weekend because everything is GPS tracked now.
Sports science has definitely come a long way. You are game planning teams for the week on field and then when you get in the weights room you’ll be grouped up into 3 different groups. So I was with the edge back group being a full back. That weight training varies from powerlifting to strength work to more functional movement and core stability training, which is important.
The wrestling was depending on where you are in season. If it’s pre-season you are definitely going hard. It can be some of the hardest training where you’re versing off against your teammates. Other days it’s technique based making sure your technique is spot on.
It definitely varies from in-season to pre-season to how long the turnaround is. Is it an 8-day turnaround? 7-day turnaround? A 6-day turnaround in between games? When it gets to the shorter turnaround times it’s basically a recovery week. When it gets to the longer turnaround weeks we put a bit more work into our fitness again.
On his game-day routine
It starts the night before. For me, it was always red meat that gave me the best energy so I also had a big steak with root vegetables, greens, and a huge salad. I felt the strongest and the most energy from that so that was pretty standard the night before.
For game day, it depends on what time you’re playing. For a night game, I would sleep in to 9-9:30 am then get up, go for a walk or swim down at the beach to get some salt water in, just move the body and take the body over.
Then I would come back and stretch and relax, and listen to some music. Then I would have a decent lunch which would be meat and vegetables again. Then I would have an arvo nap, no longer than an hour, to shut the body down for 45 minutes to an hour.
Once I get up, that’s when my preparation starts where I’m on the foam roller, stretching with the music turned up. Then it’s maybe a small snack before I leave for the ground.
On his sleep routine back in his rugby days
Different days you have different start times. Back in the early 2000s after a game, the recovery would be at 8 or 9am but now the research says that you don’t have a good night’s sleep after a game because you’re battered and bruised so recovery sessions are now at 11am.
You try to get the most sleep possible. But if you’re in preparation for a 10am start then I would wake up at 7am, stretch for 20 min-half an hour, prep my meals for the day and go in at about 8:30ish, pre-habbing in the gym at 9, on the field at 10.
I would aim for 8 hours sleep, so you work backwards if I have to wake up at 7am then I am definitely in bed at 10pm.
On his daily meal plan when he was playing for the Roosters
Back in the training days and in my Rugby career I’m not a big guy so I always had to hold muscle mass on and make sure my weight sessions were on point. Plus the food intake was a lot more so I played around 88-90 kgs.
Breakfast was a smoothie with natural coconut water, the flesh of the coconut, sometimes some raw egg yolks, raw cacao, either a banana or frozen organic berries, collagen powder from grass-fed finished beef, and sometimes half an avocado.
It’s just a bit of preparation. I crack a couple of coconuts, get 500ml of coconut water, scrape out the flesh, throw the raw egg yolks and collagen powder in raw cacao, banana, and half an avocado that’s all pretty simple and quick to make a smoothie. So I would make 2 of those and bring leftovers for lunch.
I would make 2 big ones of those. 1 for breakfast 1 for after weights. Then I would bring a meal of leftovers for lunch so I would have breakfast then lunch then the afternoon smoothie then I would come home and have protein, veggies and a huge salad.
On learning more about nutrition and how it could help with recovery
The source of your products is the most important. Nutrient-dense foods coming from healthy plants and animals are most important when you break it down. I’m trying to build good connective tissues in my body – that comes from good nutrition.
That’s what I did after my injuries towards the end of my career as I had learned and adapted and really found out the importance of high-end nutrient-dense food and nutrition on healing and recovering of the body.
On his recovery methods
When I was playing I lived at Bondi beach so on a day off mid-week during the season through winter normally a Wednesday I would like to go down to the burgs, swim in the ocean, go upstairs for a sauna for 12-15 minutes, get hot, then go back down to dive in the ocean again then back in the sauna and I would finish by diving in the ocean, and taking a shower before going home.
That invigorated me mentally and physically as well. That was something I liked to do personally. We would also get 2 massages per week and ice baths every day, cryotherapy 1x per week towards the end of my career when that came in. I would have 1-2 Epsom salt baths per week at home myself. I would sit, relax, do some breathing, visualise my game, all that type of stuff.
On his morning routine now as the founder of MiniFit
My daily routine now in the morning is to wake up naturally between 6-6:30am, go downstairs and have a big glass of water with a pinch of Celtic sea salt for minerals.
Then I go back upstairs and I have an infrared and red light panel hanging on the back of my bathroom door. I turn that on and do an 8-10 minute meditation and then I have a cold shower. From that, I am ready to take on the day. I don’t need coffee. I don’t need anything. I am ready to go. That cold invigoration at the start of the day is awesome.
On how his fitness routine has changed from the rugby days
I grew up on a farm so movement is a massive part of my life. I do something every day now. It’s just ingrained in me that movement and exercise is something I value and we know how important that is for everyone’s bodies.
As everyone is ageing, mobility and stability is the key as we get older. I don’t need to push heavy weights anymore. I weight train maybe once a week but not really that heavy in terms of lifting weights. I know the benefits of lifting weights but don’t need to push my body to the Nth degree anymore.
I like my callisthenics training, I play a bit of tennis, and whenever I’m running around holding my clinics in or out of school I’m doing 20-25,000 steps per day. When I’m in the office I’ve got a stand-up desk and a kneeling pad so I’ll go from standing to kneeling to sitting every day to vary my position to activate the lymphatic system and all that stuff.
On maintaining balance in his life
I create my foundation at home and through the work week so I am meticulous with those steps, but if I have a work function or party on the weekend I am relaxed about everything. I had a friend’s 50th lunch the other week so I went, had a few drinks, and enjoyed myself.
You’ve got to have a good balance in life. But I know my foundation is strong through the week and I do all the cooking at home. I am meticulous with all of those steps and the produce I buy so I know that the foundation is strong there. When you go out of the foundation that’s fine as long as you don’t go outside the foundation too often.
Before you go…
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