Throughout the world, all eyes are fixed on the World Cup. Group play is starting to wind down, and the knock out round fast approaches.
There is no doubt that footballers are among the world's fittest athletes, and Cristiano Ronaldo is among the most famous players on Earth.
To get to his level, of course a level of talent and aptitude is required. Those innate qualities can't really be replicated. What we can do is look at the physical preparation and follow a similar blueprint (at the end of this post there is a sample week of training).
Even if you aren't a soccer player, you can add some of these protocols to your training to get leaner and faster.
Let's get a few foundational principles out of the way.
This article is not going to address the skill work required to be successful on the pitch.
Just know that being good at any sport requires an unbelievable amount of time and focus on the fundamentals of the game. If you want to be an outstanding footballer, you need to play...a lot!
Nutrition And Rest
I can almost see you rolling your eyes, "Yeah, yeah, I know this already. Tell me how to train."
Stay with me, because it bears repeating. You can't drive a Ferrari with 89 octane. It requires premium fuel and proper maintenance. Ronaldo is definitely a Ferrari.
Clean proteins sources, lots of veggies, nuts and seeds, even a little whole grains (if you tolerate it) should form the basis of your diet. You should be properly hydrated, and you should supplement to fill in the gaps.
Make getting proper sleep a priority.
OK, we got the boring stuff out of the way. Let's look at some training protocols.
Mobility, Endurance, Strength
When most people think of soccer, they think endurance. This is absolutely true: footballers run 8-10 miles per game and have to have a motor than can keep going.
But that's not all you need to perform on the pitch. Mobility, explosiveness, and strength all play a role as well. A good training program for general physical preparedness (GPP) should address these areas, as well as help prevent injury.
Mobility is different from flexibility as it deals more with the joints and ranges of motion.
For football, we want to address the hips and ankles especially, and overall more generally. The third-world squat is a great place to start. A resting position for much of the world, in the US this position can be extremely challenging.
Ido Portal has a great series on this movement and some advanced additions.
There is no way around it: soccer is a demanding endurance sport.
But while a player may run the aforementioned 8-10 miles in a game, it's not all done continuously. The game is full of starts and stops, direction changes, acceleration and deceleration.
Training needs to compliment. Shuttle runs, backwards sprints, and agility drills should be the basis for your endurance training.
One look at Cristiano Ronaldo's physique and it's clear the guy is in the gym with the iron.
You don't need to spend all day lifting, this isn't a bodybuilding show. But you do want more than enough strength to perform. Remember, strength is never a weakness (shout out to Mark Bell).
An efficient training program that touches on general strength as well as some of specifics of football performed twice a week will be just fine. See below for a sample week.
A Sample Training Week
**3 mile run, aerobic pace.**
Start the week a run. It will give you the momentum and it just feels great.
**Upper Body Strength**
1. Turkish Get Ups, 5x1 each side (this is mostly to warm up the body and engage the most muscle groups possible)
2a. Overhead Press 5x5, 75-80% max
2b. Chin Up, 5 x 50% of max reps
3a. Ring or TRX Row, 5x12
3b. Push Ups, 5x12-20
4. Face pulls, 3x20
50 meter shuttle runs, 5-7 sets
**Mobility and Recovery**
Be active, but don't strain. Do the Ido Portal routine above, or a yoga class. Maybe an ice bath at some point in the day as well.
**Lower Body Strength**
1. Turkish Get Ups, 5x1 each side
2. Step Ups, 5x10 each side
3. Lateral Lunges, 5x10 each side
4. Tuck jumps, 5x6
5. Hanging leg raises, 4x10
400 meter sprints, 5 sprints on 1 minute rest
You can also opt to rest and recover this day along with some mobility.
So there you have a solid week and a sample training plan. While this is certainly not the only approach an aspiring footballer could take, it is efficient, and can be used alone, or as a supplement to your soccer schedule.
Cristiano Ronaldo isn't as good as he is based only on god-given talent. He's an incredibly hard worker, so if you want to be in World Cup shape, get ready to bust your ass for it!