With a depressing amount of intercounty GAA players retiring before age 30, Meath and Longwood's Mickey Burke is a case study in longevity. The 'Honeybadger' made his Meath debut in 2004 and only last year was voted Meath Footballer of the Year.
Mickey is also a serious fitness enthusiast and believes his committed and innovative gym regime has extended his career on the football pitch.
Balls.ie spoke to Mickey Burke about gym regimen, his S&C advice for young footballers and hurlers and the transformation of the GAA physique over the last decade.
How many days a week are you in the gym?
The day after a game I would either hop on the stationery bike for 20-25 mins and do some mobility work to get the legs moving, maybe even throw in some upper body as well.
I generally do 2 gym sessions a week a mix of lifting (power cleans, etc) squats and conditioning work which is exercises with very little rest time to get a good sweat on. Before games I use the gym as a primer, to get some explosive exercises in to fire up the body. I've no doubt gym work over the years has made me durable, and touch wood I rarely miss a field session or game with a pulled muscle.
I don't think I've ever put in a pair of earphones in my life when running or in the gym! But I definitely like some music blasting out in the background! The gym is to be enjoyed and music helps the atmosphere!! AC/DC Hells Bells, Red Hot Chilli Pepper's Can't Stop, Come Out Ye Black and Tans by the Wolfe Tones!
Do you use technology/gadgets and is there anything you'd recommend?
They are some to name a few but I try to get the majority of my vitamins and minerals from whole foods and a good diet.
Gym sessions have changed dramatically from when i started out in the winter of 2004. Gyming was probably only in its infancy in the GAA, but with the success of the Armagh and Tyrone teams of the early 2000s it was being recognised that it was hugely beneficial. We gymed very hard over the winter up to 3 times a week but once the summer came it almost went completely out the window. Now it is continued throughout the whole season with very specific and individualised programmes.
I think their has been a huge change in the physique of players over the last 5-6 years. Look at players now they are very lean and light almost like AFL players where the emphasis is now on mobility and distance covered, more so than big bulky players.
I look at pictures of myself from 2012 when i was at probably my biggest... 95kg! Jesus it was almost bodybuilding.
But that's the way it was with at that time. I remember when we did our 1RPM (1rep max) My deadlift was 290kg
My squat was 275kg. (Andrew Porter I'm coming for you!) The lads say I have a mix of agricultural strength and gym strength. It's important to evolve and change with the times and keep an open mind.
I have a huge passion for nutrition and fitness and I'm going to go back and study it. As a young fella I used to read Men's Health and Muscle and Fitness, just to see what different sports people were doing training and diet wise. Now I read sports autobiographies from all different codes looking for a 1% advantage or a marginal gain. Guys like Peter Stringer, Donncha O'Callaghan and Brad Thorn have been inspirational to me the way they took care of their bodies and for the longevity of their careers.
I google NRL and Super League players to see what others are doing at the highest level. I'm constantly trying to improve and get better. Never stand still. Casann an Roth.
Mickey Burke has launched his own retro Meath jersey: you can buy it here.
You can follow him on Instagram @mickey_burke__the_honeybadger