An inside look at the intense training regimens of the AVP's Matt Olson ands Ty Loomis
Matt Olson was tired of losing. Tired, period.
“I started doing better so it’d be later in the tournament and I just felt exhausted,” Olson says. “And I’m looking at these guys that beat me on that day and then they’d be playing, like, two more matches in the same day.”
“I’m sitting there thinking (that) I’m as young as them and I look as strong as they are. What am I doing wrong? I’ve come to realize…that it is a whole ‘nother lifestyle. You’ve got to really kick it into gear with your training. If you want to be at that level, to be playing on Sunday and playing strong, you have to take care of yourself.”
Olson put his faith in fitness and nutrition expert Curtis Jackson prior to the 2008 AVP Tour and he’s been pleased with the results—the highest rankings of his career and a better-conditioned body.
“Physically, my partner Kevin Wong and I have gotten to the point where we’re getting to those (semifinal) games and I also feel that physically I can do it because I have the energy,” Olson says. “My legs are still under me with the working out and the food I’m putting in my body. I still feel strong late in tournaments, which was my whole goal.”
Olson and Wong finished with a No. 4 team ranking in their first season together last year, registering Olson’s first career victory and four third-place finishes in 17 tournaments. Through the first six tournaments of 2009, they placed third four times.
Olson, 29, has been a full-time tour player for six years. He adheres to a diet emphasizing proteins and vegetables. He has eliminated wheat, fast food, and soft drinks, but still drinks coffee with low-fat milk and raw sugar.
Typically he’ll have a three-egg omelet with chicken and spinach and half an avocado for breakfast; a salad with chicken, or chicken or beef with rice for lunch; and grilled chicken, fish, or steak with a vegetable, rice, or sweet potato for dinner. He snacks on apples, bananas, beef jerky, almonds, and bars from Jackson’s Jump Elite Nutrition Lab.
Olson supplements his diet with fish oil for the omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine chondroitin for joints and cartilage, vitamin-C boosters, and an electrolyte drink during tournaments.
“Increasing [his] energy level was probably the biggest thing for him,” Jackson, his nutritionist, says. “He was already in pretty good shape and was already a really good jumper and all that good stuff, a very good volleyball player. But just his energy wasn’t there.”
Olson’s training includes a modified version of Mike Rangel’s cardio workouts with a medicine ball, which were popularized by Karch Kiraly. He uses a 12-pound ball in various drills in which he covers the court with explosive moves. The high-intensity workout lasts 45 minutes.
“I think it’s paid off [because after] the last two years of me doing it my game has just shot through the roof,” says Olson, who was second in digs per game and eighth in average kills on tour last year. “There’s a confidence looking across the net at the end of a tournament thinking you’re in better shape than that guy over there.”
Olson’s weight training focuses on legs and shoulders with squats, lunges, and the clean and jerk. He also uses strength bands for his upper body and surfs, which he believes improves his arm speed.
In June, Olson had an “incredible trip” visiting U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and Qatar. He returned home to what he describes as an idyllic life.
“I’ve got a good thing going; I’m not going to lie,” Olson says. “I love my wife. We’ve got a great little house in Encinitas [Calif.]. Financially we’re doing OK. To be honest with you, it’s kind of all-encompassing right now.
“Mentally I’m in a good place. I’m training hard and I’ve got good training partners and good coaches. I just feel confident.”
5 things in Matt Olson's AVP gym bag
1. Small cooler containing an ice pack and Jump Elite Nutrition Lab bars. Olson ices his right knee, right shoulder and lower back on his drive home from a workout. "Mentally I feel better after ice", he says.
2. Small, white Gatorade towel to wipe his glasses and dry off after a dip in the ocean.
3. Strenght bands for shoulder and back exercises.
4. Ocean Potion sun screen. "I've got like the regular rub-on stuff and I,ve always got the spray can as well because Kevin (Wong) and all my other buddies don't feel confident rubbing it on my back."
5. Water in half-gallon containers. "I'm working out a couple hours a day and playing usually, [so] I go heavy [on the] water."