Everyday workouts by Varsity athletes

Three Queen’s Varsity athletes share their favourite workouts and some fitness tips.

It’s no secret that Queen’s has some talented athletes on campus. But while we see them during games and races, we rarely see their day-to-day training — which is what makes up the bulk of the experience of being a varsity athlete.

So, I asked three Queen’s athletes to tell us their favourite workout and what they’d recommend to anyone starting out in their sport.


Name: Emma Chown

Team: Rugby

Position: Wing

Claim to fame: Member of CIS silver medal team


Favourite workout: 

Running stairs


For cardio, our team often runs stairs together. I really enjoy this because depending on what you’re looking to improve, you can modify it to focus more on power or on endurance. I also enjoy doing stairs as a team because you’re with a group of people who will encourage and push you to do your best. Nothing like a little bit of sweat (and by a little, I mean a lot) to bring a team together.


What I’d recommend to beginners:

For someone looking to play rugby, I’d recommend starting with basic rugby skills like catching, passing and tackling. It’s important to have your hands up and ready as a target when waiting for the ball and to make crisp passes to the target when passing. It’s important to be proficient in these skills in order to maintain ball possession (which is pretty much the key to winning a rugby game). 

Tackling is another key aspect of rugby that takes a lot of practice to perfect and is often an area that beginners struggle with. To start, you should really focus on getting low, making contact with your shoulder and driving your legs as you make your hit. When first learning how to tackle, you should always have an experienced player or coach with you to make sure everyone involved is staying safe (i.e. don’t just go out with your buddies and go, “hey! This is kind of what it looks like rugby players are doing!).

As far as weight training goes for beginner rugby players, it’s important to have a good base fitness. General exercises such as squats, deadlifts and bench press can be done to improve lower, upper and core strength. Plyometric exercises, such as box jumps, depth jumps and bounds can also help to improve power and agility. Of course, endurance training is also an important part of rugby training in order to be able to perform for an 80-minute game.


Name: Brittany McEachern

Team: Triathlon

Claim to fame: Ironman competitor


Favourite workout:

Bike/run brick workout — 30-40K bike, 6-7 run


In triathlon, we use workouts that combine two of the three events, usually bike-run, with little to no breaks in between. This allows us to simulate at least part of a race. There’s some debate as to why they’re called brick 

workouts — some think it’s because they’re the building blocks of triathlon training and some say it’s because your legs feel like bricks afterwards.


What I would recommend to beginners:

I would recommend triathlon beginners to start by strengthening each of the sports individually and in a setting where they can cater to their own fitness level. Any Queen’s students that are interested in tri should come out to our team spin classes — the energy and enthusiasm is always great and I promise you’ll sweat more than you ever have in your life. We have a developmental group along with our competitive team, so experience isn’t necessary.


Name: Alex Wilkie

Team: Cross country 

Position: Captain

Claim to fame:  

Champion, 2015


Favourite workout: 

20-min warm up 

1200m x 6 with 90 second recovery in between 20-min cool down


I usually do this type of workout towards the end of my summer track season, when I begin building my mileage for cross country in the fall. It’s a great workout because it combines the speed of track — the interval pace — with the long distance of cross country.

Interval pace is defined by Dr. Jack Daniels as an athlete’s intensity at 97 to100 per cent of their maximum heart rate. 

Interval pace doesn’t mean you’re pushing yourself to your limit, but it’s a serious enough pace that you should be able to maintain for about 10 to 15 minutes. There are breaks in place so it becomes manageable. 

Hitting the paces perfectly isn’t always a big deal — sometimes if I’m lacking sleep or don’t feel 100 per cent the pace is a bit off. Plus, you have to always adjust training paces relative to the weather you face, especially in excessive heat or wind.


What I would recommend to beginners: 

15-min warm up

8 to 12 40-second hill reps with 1.5 min recovery back down the hill

15-min cool down


Warm up before starting the hills to prepare yourself for the workout (just a jog to loosen up and elevate your heart rate), and make sure you complete a slow cool down for recovery afterwards.

The important part of the workout isn’t necessarily how fast you can get up the hill, but that you work on driving your arms and legs efficiently while completing the incline. Don’t worry if you need to take a longer break between reps.

Kingston has a few locations that are great for this workout, especially in the east end of town, where a world-class cross country course is located on the Fort Henry hill. 


Fitness, gym, Sports, Workout

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