Wall Street's best athletes share their training tips

David LazarusGameface MediaDavid Lazarus, of Trillium Trading, won the 40-49 age category in the 2016 edition of the Decathlon.

The annual Decathlon event, where the financial industry’s finest compete in events inspired by the NFL Scouting Combine and the Olympic decathlon, is some way off. The New York event isn’t scheduled until June.

But already many of the competitors are in training.

We caught up with a few of those planning to take part in the 2017 edition, to run through their training tips.

We spoke with:

  • Michael Greco, who works for KGS-Alpha in Boca Raton, Florida, and has an NFL championship ring with the Green Bay Packers. He ranked second in the 2016 edition of the event behind five-time champion Mark Rubin, and he is the early favourite for the 2017 edition.
  • Katie Davis is a debt capital markets associate at TD Securities who placed second in 2016.
  • Xavier Russo is a Bank of America employee who is hoping to take the team title.
  • David Lazarus heads up the Miami office at Trillium Trading, a digital trading firm. He won the 40-49 age category in the 2016 edition of the decathlon.
  • Carson Rohrbaugh is an associate in equity capital markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He is taking part in the team event for the third year running.
  • Randy Giveans, a vice-president in equity research at Jefferies in Houston, placed third in 2016, winning the 400 meter event.

Here’s what they had to say about their training for the 2017 event.

'The hardest thing is the diet. You sit in an office all day, you want to snack, to eat a lot.' -- Michael Greco, KGS-Alpha

Michael Greco

'Mostly, I'm training all year around, just to be in shape and live a healthy lifestyle. I train at two different places, XPE Sports, a sports-performance facility where they train NFL combine guys and high-end athletes. That is more mobility-focused stuff. Then I go to LA Fitness to do some of my weight training.

'I'm in the gym six days a week -- get in there after work and release some stress. Fortunately, they have this great event where we can raise some money for pediatric-cancer research.

'When I played football, my job was to get ready for practice, to get ready for the combine. Now I've got to work all day, from 7.30 to 5.30, and then after work, you've got to put your time in, train for an hour, an hour and a half, put the work in and work up a sweat.'

'The hardest thing is the diet. You sit in an office all day, you want to snack, to eat a lot. The thing I have been doing, I make a few meals for the day, bring it to work, and try to not eat out so much. I'm not completely strict, but I eat healthy 70% of the time.'

'There's no trick to fitness. My motto for 2017 is getting it done.' -- Michael Greco, KGS-Alpha

Tina Wadhwa

'When I go to the gym, I try to get a good hard sweat on. Everything I do, I super-set. I do one set of back and one set of chest, squats and legs, get my heart rate up, and then get it back down. I train fast and intense and move a decent amount of weight. I like to lift heavy, where I am struggling for 8 to 10 reps.

I'll get on the treadmill and do 10-15 sprints at 10 or 11 miles per hour for 30 seconds.

The 800m is when it drags on you. You've got to keep that pace for two laps. I didn't realise how good cardio shape you have to be in to do these 10 events.

'There's no trick to fitness. My motto for 2017 is getting it done.'

'I try to keep my workouts on a schedule as best I can with the reality that things get jostled quite often.' -- Katie Davis, TD Securities

Katie Davis

'Like most everyone in our industry, my schedule is busy and sometimes unpredictable. The decathlon challenged me to realise that some events I could excel in without much additional training while others required more practice to be competitive.

'I try to keep my workouts on a schedule as best I can with the reality that things get jostled quite often. Typically I do two to three sprint workouts each week. A straight run workout might include four each of 300-, 250-, 200-, 150-, and 100-yard sprints on the track or grass. In the winter, I'll do sprint intervals on the treadmill if I can't go outside. One of those workouts will consist of stadiums with plyometrics and agility drills to work on quickness. I usually do one longer run on Saturdays in Central Park or the West Side Highway between five and seven miles, which I find is a nice way to feel refreshed from the week.'

'I work on things like pull-ups, dips, burpees, and tuck jumps to get my heart rate up.' -- Katie Davis, TD Securities

Gameface Media

'As for weights, I like doing high-intensity circuit training for arms and abs. I work on things like pull-ups, dips, burpees, and tuck jumps to get my heart rate up. Since these workouts are 45 minutes or so, I can get it done before work and still be at my desk by 7 a.m. While I might need an extra coffee in the afternoon, it feels great already having a workout under my belt and freed up to see clients if needed.

'As for rest days, I try to work them into the week when I know it will be difficult to get to the gym, often on travel days with early flights and meetings. About three months before the decathlon, I'll start to specifically train for the events. That means forcing myself to get on a rowing machine and throwing a football. I'll cut down on longer runs since the longest we run is an 800 and add more explosive exercises into the mix and add heavier weights.'

'Working in this industry is a lot of fun, but the travel and entertaining can conflict with your fitness goals.' -- Katie Davis, TD Securities

Katie Davis

'Working in this industry is a lot of fun, but the travel and entertaining can conflict with your fitness goals. That's why I stick with a standard breakfast every day: Greek yogurt and fruit.

'Protein bars like Quest are always in my desk drawer for snacks and for lunch, my go-tos are wraps or sandwiches with enough protein to get me to the end of the day. My weakness is sweets but with working out and working hard, you have to allow yourself some lenience! I did just discover high-protein, low-calorie ice cream: Halo Top. Sleep is also key for recovery when you're pushing yourself to get stronger and faster.'

'A training regimen does not just stop. It becomes embedded in your life and a part of who you are.' -- Xavier Russo, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Xavier Russo

'The first time I started to lift heavily and do extensive cardio training was in high school when I began my freshman football season. I continued playing football throughout high school and college. For at least eight years of my life, I scheduled everything I did around training four to six days a week.

'As this is the same for many collegiate athletes, it is not surprising that while sports end senior year -- unless you're one of the lucky ones -- a training regimen does not just stop. It becomes embedded in your life and a part of who you are. That's why my training for the decathlon is a year around thing.'

'I generally split up my lifting into single parts of the body; chest, legs, back, shoulders and then on the weekend I'll do a more athletic lifting session.' -- Xavier Russo, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Xavier Russo

'I try to work out five days a week. I generally split up my lifting into single parts of the body: chest, legs, back, shoulders. And then on the weekend I'll do a more athletic lifting session (typically hang cleans, hang snatch, farmers walks). I typically don't dedicate an entire day to cardio but normally do sprints on the treadmill after lifting. Last year, as 'game day' for the decathlon came into sight, I shifted my training to focus more on specific events. I'd adjust my chest days to include more high rep exercises that were more conducive to muscle endurance for the events.'

'I have focused on maintaining my conditioning from the last competition, as well as working on leg strength, flexibility, and endurance.' -- David Lazarus, Trillium

Gameface Media

'Since my first appearance, in 2015, I have trained year round for the Wall Street Decathlon. During the past six months, I have focused on maintaining my conditioning from the last competition, as well as working on leg strength, flexibility, and endurance.

'I have been attending Barry's Bootcamp two to three times a week, which is tremendously helpful for the running events because of the high-intensity interval training on the treadmills. Barry's also helps me focus on some of the smaller muscle groups as well as core, which I don't always address when working out at the gym.

'I also work out every Tuesday with Grant Weeditz at Anatomy1220 in Miami Beach. Grant spent seven years training NFL players at Bommarito Performance Systems in preparation for the NFL combine. Since the decathlon includes many of the same events as the combine, I wanted an expert in speed and agility. Working with Grant on strength, speed, and agility allowed me to improve my 40-yeard-dash time and 20-yard shuttle times between 2015 and 2016. In fact, at 42 years old, I was able to best champion Mark Rubin last year in an electronically timed 40-yard dash.'

'I discovered after 2015 that the best way to increase the number of pull-ups and bench press I could do was actually by doing more reps at lower weights.' -- David Lazarus, Trillium

David Lazarus

'Now that we are less than six months away from the 2017 Decathlon, I will be decreasing my Barry's workouts and increasing my track workouts. I try to go to the track at least twice a week where I train for the 400M and 800M events as well as practice technique on the football field for the 40-yard dash and 20-yard shuttle.

'In addition, I will be increasing my rowing from once a week to three times a week, and increasing the intensity of bench press, dips, and pull-ups. I discovered after 2015 that the best way to increase the number of pull-ups and bench press I could do was actually by doing more reps at lower weights rather than working on adding weight to pull-ups, dips, and bench press as I had done for 2015. This can be accomplished in pull-ups by using a weight-assist machine or by using a band tied around the pull-up bar that you can put your foot or knee inside of. On the bench, I do sets of 40 or 50 at weights like 145 and 155. This training with higher reps allowed me to go up from 25 to 30 reps on dips and 23 to 28 reps on the bench between 2015 and 2016.

'In addition, I will be increasing my rowing from once a week to three times a week, and increasing the intensity of bench press, dips, and pull-ups. I discovered after 2015 that the best way to increase the number of pull-ups and bench press I could do was actually by doing more reps at lower weights rather than working on adding weight to pull-ups, dips, and bench press as I had done for 2015. This can be accomplished in pull-ups by using a weight-assist machine or by using a band tied around the pull-up bar that you can put your foot or knee inside of. On the bench, I do sets of 40 or 50 at weights like 145 and 155. This training with higher reps allowed me to go up from 25 to 30 reps on dips and 23 to 28 reps on the bench between 2015 and 2016.

'It is important to train for every event, even if you aren't good at one of them. It is much easier to increase your point totals in events you aren't great at because you have so much more room for improvement. For example, I never really learned to throw a football. Last year I took some lessons and was able to easily add six yards to my football throw, which translated into a lot of points!'

'it is important to be lean for the event.' -- David Lazarus, Trillium

Tina Wadhwa

'I have been on a fairly strict paleo diet for the last two and a half years. This diet, which is rich in protein and low in carbohydrates, especially low in simple sugars, has allowed me to gain close to 20 pounds of muscle since I started it while maintaining a body fat under 6%.

'Since several of the events are greatly affected by your body weight, it is important to be lean for the event. In addition, the running events become much easier if you are lean. I will become more strict with my diet three months before the competition and will cut out alcohol completely for the two weeks leading up to the competition as I have done in the past two years. On race day, it is important to bring your own nutrition and plan for enough food to sustain you for five to six hours of intense exercise. Last year many competitors did not bring any food and were hurting a couple hours into the event.'

'All the events are explosive, short-distance types of events, but at the same time it is very long day.' -- Carson Rohrbaugh, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Carson Rohrbaugh

'Everybody who does it, they're not the type of people that don't work out until they have something like this. We're all guys who go to the gym, who play pickup basketball on Saturdays. I recently got into cycling about a year ago.

'With the new year, you start to focus your efforts a little bit more specifically toward the event. As you start to send out your fundraising emails, around March, you really start kicking into gear.

'Right now, it is probably three or four days a week, mostly just going to the gym for lifting and running, and then in March, I'll end up at the point where I'm there five or six days a week, lifting, running, and then I'm cycling with a couple of 20- to 3o-mile rides.'

'All the events are explosive, short-distance type of events, but at the same time it is a very long day. Going out for hour-long bike rides is helpful for the long day.'

'I went to an exercise at Tone House, and it was by far the hardest class I have ever done. It was comparable to college-football workouts. It's a full hour of full-body explosive training: sprinting, ropes, rowing, pushing sleds, no breaks. You can tap out for a few minutes if you want to. It's smaller, and there is a team aspect to it.

'I started doing yoga maybe doing one or two days a week last January. You sit at a desk all day, and you're training a bunch, and staying flexible in your whole body is huge, especially in this event. The setback of pulling something knocks you out for two or three weeks.

'Some guys can go train six or seven days a week. Those are fine, but I really try to listen to my body, and if I am feeling worn out, I'll take time out of my schedule.'

'I think a lot of this crowd works out in the morning or at the weekends. You have more control of your schedule.'

'It's not power lifting. You don't have to dead-lift 500 pounds.' -- Randy Giveans, Jefferies

'For the decathlon, you're not looking for one rep max. It's not power lifting. You don't have to dead-lift 500 pounds. It is generally a minute of work. If you're hanging on the pull-up bar and aiming for 20 pull-ups, you're on there for 45 seconds.

'Every few weeks, I'll go real heavy, and do no more than six reps, to shock the muscles. And every four weeks or so, I'll do the reverse, do high reps, say 25 reps of pull down, and then have no rest and go straight in to a minute of biceps curls.

'It's all about mixing it up, spending time and energy the on strength component, doing cardio, running or doing sprints, getting your endurance up. I also focus on flexibility, and go to yoga with my wife, doing all these poses I have never done before.'

'I mix in spinning and adventure races to break up the monotony. I mix in other fitness activities. With all these events, unless you're an ex-NFL player, you're not doing the 20-yard shuttle, or vertical jumps, or the 40-yard dash. You're learning these new exercises.'

'I try and keep the body guessing.' -- Randy Giveans, Jefferies

Julia La Roche

'This is useful advice for those training for the decathlon, and those training for general fitness, people who have a New Year's resolution to put on muscle and lose some weight: mix up your training.

'If you are just doing spinning five days a week, or running five days a week, or doing bench press five days a week, you're not getting any more athletic. Mix it up with cross training, with running, yoga, pilates, weight lifting, explosive jumps, doing different things every day.

'If I am working out five days a week, I might do weights two days, running on two days, and the fifth day is something like pilates or plyometric exercises. I try and keep the body guessing.'

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