Vanessa Raw

Vanessa Raw offers her indoor training routine


Vanessa’s gym routines start with 15-20mins of mobility exercises designed to activate stabilising muscles. These help her to maintain good posture and execute the strength-building movements with good form.

1. Loosening muscles

Mobilisation starts with exercises on a foam roller to loosen the fascia around the muscles, which, in turn, means the joints are more mobile and an enhanced range of movement is possible. Vanessa uses the roller on the ITB (iliotibial band), glutes, hamstrings, calves and lower back in particular.

2. Hip flexing

She then moves onto movements such as hip flexor mobilisations where putting her arms up in the air helps to stretch out the abs at the same time.

3. Activating hip abductors

Movements such as side strides and ‘Monster Walks’ (walking forwards) with a band around her legs are included to activate the hip abductors, which play a key role in stabilising the lower body when she moves onto more dynamic exercises.

4. Caterpillar walks

Finally, exercises such as caterpillar walks are used to ease out the calves, Achilles and lower back.

Main sets

The main exercises Vanessa follows to build strength and muscular endurance are done as ‘super sets’ to complement each other. These emphasise slow, controlled movements in the eccentric phase and faster, more powerful ones in the concentric to increase both stability and power. Often they are unilateral exercises (using one side of the body at a time) to create balance and even out discrepancies from side to side.

1. Reverse lunge

Vanessa lowers down in reverse to a slow count of three, before pushing back up in a count of one. She does a low number of reps (three to six) per set for strength and power. This exercise is ‘super-setted’ with alternate sliding squat thrusts. These use opposing muscle groups and are designed to promote muscular endurance by completing 50 repetitions. This whole set is undertaken five times in total.

2. Trap bar deadlift

Like the lunges, this movement is performed slowly when lowering the weight and quickly when lifting it up. Again, three to six reps are performed and it’s super-setted with ‘face pulls’ that work the upper back and rotator cuff. Vanessa does a lot of upper-back exercises to complement the fact that swimming tends to build the chest more and can lead to poor upper back posture, which then affects her running. Face pulls are done in sets of 12-15 reps and, as before, five sets in total are performed.

3. Single deadlift

This movement is performed relatively slowly and promotes balance and control. As it’s more focused on muscular endurance, eight to 12 reps are performed and it’s super-setted with a standing overhead dumbbell press. This works the shoulders and relies on good stability in the abdominals, hips and lower body. Approximately eight repetitions per set are performed; Vanessa completes three sets in total. She then finishes her gym routine by stretching all of the major muscle groups.