How to Train Like a Professional Athlete: Diet and Exercise Routines of Pro Footballers

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When it comes to diet and exercise, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. What helps in formulating a personalised plan is narrowing it down to a specific sport in which you’d like to excel. Today, we’re going to share a few tips and tricks on how to eat and train like a pro footballer.

Nutrition

The diet of a footballer is actually pretty standard for most athletes. First, you have to monitor your intake of carbohydrates, protein, and fat or macronutrients. Around 60% of athletes’ nutrients come from carbs and it’s important that you get them from healthy sources. Take Lionel Messi, for example. The Barcelona forward used to eat a lot of unhealthy food, such as sweets and soft drinks. Although still carbs, they lack nutritional value, slow down digestion and may even cause vomiting, as Messi experienced. Instead, consume more whole grains, bread, cereal, starchy vegetables, and legumes on a daily basis.

To fuel your muscles, ensure that 30% of your daily nutrition is composed of protein such as lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and legumes. The last 10% should be dedicated to healthy fats like vegetable oils, avocados, fatty fish, nuts and seeds. Don’t skimp on fruit and vegetables to fulfil your fibre and vitamin needs and drink lots of fluids! Ensure you provide your body with enough nutrition roughly three hours prior to strenuous training and post-training help your body recover with a protein and nutrient rich smoothie.

Training

There are several basic skills that you need to train in football. First off, you need endurance in order to sustain long periods of cardiovascular exercise. It is no secret that footballers do a lot of running on the pitch. Try doing a bunch of different cardio exercises like Neymar who alternates between several sports disciplines, according to Foods for Better Health, like cycling, tennis, running, and swimming. These activities focus on building stamina and will make you comfortable without huffing and puffing your way through training or a match.

(image: Pexels)

As an athlete, you also need strength in order to generate power and speed. Focus on exercises that cut down excess body fat such as bodyweight training. Football players mainly focus on movements that activate several muscle groups at a time. In our ‘Beginners Guide to Working Out’ we provided some examples including pushups, tricep dips, squats, and crunches. Try repeating each circuit 3-5 times in one session, 2-3 times per week.

(image: Pexels)

Elite footballers are known for their speed and explosiveness. In order to refine these areas, you’ll need to perform high intensity interval training or HIIT. For example, Cristiano Ronaldo stated that sprint drills are an essential part of training. Not only do the drills make athletes faster and more powerful, they also mimic what happens in a match. Sprints can be challenging but they are highly effective and the Juventus star should know what he is talking about. After all, Ladbrokes outlines that the 33-year old Ronaldo is still dominating the sport and is currently one of the highest paid athletes on the planet. He has garnered a huge following and many fans and professionals admire him and want to know what his secrets are when it comes to playing and physical conditioning.

Ronaldo definitely has a lot of tricks up his sleeve, but nothing beats good, old-fashioned interval training. Aside from sprints, plyometrics is your next best bet as HIIT training, to be performed 2-3 times a week. Plyometric exercises such as jump squats, burpees, high knees, and mountain climbers work on explosiveness and will significantly improve your game.

Lastly, don’t end your training session without performing stretches. A dynamic warm-up goes before a workout while static stretches are best performed after. They help improve mobility, which footballers often neglect. They also help minimise stiff joints and muscle pain that are guaranteed to come after all your hard work.

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