How To Get An AFL Player's Body

How to get an AFL player’s body

AFL players are among the fittest athletes on the planet with a rare combination of total-body strength and cardio endurance. Here, MH cover star Isaac Heeney reveals his complete preseason training plan. A word of warning: prepare to be gassed.

AFL PLAYERS ARE among the fittest athletes on the planet and their jacked physiques are a testament to that. Players need full-body strength as well as a supreme cardio base to be able to continuously perform short sprints for over 100 minutes, break free of tackles, all while covering up to 15-20km a game. Men’s Health recently sat down with Sydney Swans’ forward Isaac Heeney, who detailed his preseason training routine.

Isaac Heeney’s preseason training routine

Built like a prime thoroughbred, Heeney has the enviable problem of stacking on muscle too easily, something that can be a liability in an endurance-based game like Aussie Rules. “If I do too much I can sometimes blow out and put a bit too much weight on,” says Heeney, who tips the scales at 88 kg but has played some seasons at 91-92 kg. “Obviously it’s an aerobic game. I’ve played games at some heavy weights that I probably shouldn’t be. So I’ve dropped it back a few kilos to make sure I’m moving around really well but keeping my strength at the same time.

Heeney likes doing basic bodyweight exercises but adding weight to increase load. “I’m a fan of just doing the basic push-ups, sit-ups and chin-ups,” he says. “I grew up doing that. I was told not to touch weights at a young age, because it obviously influences your growth and that’s not good for your body. So I stayed away from weights but did plenty of bodyweight stuff.”

Use this workout to build a body that can break tackles, blast through packs and help you keep running until the final siren.

Bodyweight circuit



  • Push-ups – 4 x 10 with a 20kg weight plate on your back
  • Chin-ups – 4 x 10 with weight (Heeney does lower reps carrying 35kg around his waist).


  • Leg raises x 10
  • Windscreen wipers x 6 each side
  • Sit-ups x 20

Clothes and shoes by Nike; watch by Hublot, available at Kennedy Watches & Jewellery.


Cardio session



  • 6 x 100m, 30-sec rest between runs. Do the first two runs at 60 per cent of your capacity, the third and fourth at 70 per cent, fifth at 80 per cent and sixth at 90 per cent.

Main set

  • 4 x 20-sec sprint – sprint for 20 secs, 10-sec walk

“With these you’re gassing yourself, so you go as hard as you can,” says Heeney.

2 mins rest

  • 4 x 20-sec sprint – sprint for 20 secs, 10-sec walk

2 mins rest

  • 4 x 30-sec sprint – sprint for 30 sec, 30 sec walk

2 mins rest

  • 6 x 45-sec – sprint for 45 sec, 45-sec rest

2 min rest

  • 4 x 30-sec – sprint for 30, 15-sec rest

2 min rest

  • 4 x 20-sec – sprint for 20, 10-sec rest

“It’s a long session, says Heeney. “It will take you a while to do them. The shorter stuff will blow you up quicker and they’re the harder sessions, whereas if you go and run for 10 minutes, it’s slightly different.”


Isaac wears: Jacket, TWO.ONE by Farage; shorts by Nike.



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By Ben Jhoty

Ben Jhoty, Men’s Health’s Head of Content, attempts to honour the brand’s health-conscious, aspirational ethos on weekdays while living marginally larger on weekends. A new father, when he’s not rocking an infant to sleep, he tries to get to the gym, shoot hoops and binge on streaming shows.

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