The World Cup is at underway, which means we will once again get to witness the world’s best soccer players in action. With superstars Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar all fighting for World Cup glory, it will be a tournament not to be missed. But more than world-class talent, elite level fitness will also be on full display in Russia, as soccer players are some of the fittest people on the planet.
Both Ronaldo and Messi are on Sports Illustrated’s list of the fittest male athletes in the world. Given the elite level fitness of these soccer superstars, the question is: Can mere mortals — i.e., you and every one of us — be soccer fit? The answer is yes, but it will take a lot of work, discipline, and dedication. In case you want to give it a shot, these pointers will surely come in handy:
‘Abs are made in the kitchen, and maintained in the gym’
Soccer stars like Neymar are picky with food, and it’s not because they are finicky per se. Diet is the key foundation of any athletic pursuit, and soccer players have to be extremely careful with their diets to make sure they have enough energy to last the 90+ minutes of a match.
The top players have dedicated nutritionists to help fuel their bodies, with Messi hiring nutrition expert Giuliano Poser to improve his diet. The Italian dietician told The Independent that water, good quality olive oil, whole grains, fresh fruit, and fresh vegetables are the foundations of Messi’s diet. And like the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner, you, too, might want to scrimp on the sugar, as it is bad for the muscles explains Poser.
‘If you’re only putting in 50% at the gym, you’re going to get 50% of the results’
Eating healthily is just part of the equation as you will also have to train hard to get fit. And who better to look up to in this regard than Portuguese legend Ronaldo, who on top of his regular training, trains 5 days a week for 3–4 hours a day, according to Sportskeeda.
His routine focuses on high-intensity exercises, with a particular emphasis on cardiovascular training and gym work. These help him improve his endurance and stamina alongside his overall body strength, enabling him to pull off amazing athletic feats.
- Aerobic: Strength and conditioning coach Matthew Monte-Colombo explains that aerobic is “essentially a player’s ability to perform lower-intensity exercise over an extended period of time.”
- Anaerobic immediate (phosphocreatine): refers to a player’s explosive power, which is aided in part by drawing from stored chemicals such as phosphocreatine for short bursts of energy
- Anaerobic short-term (lactate): a player’s capacity to handle repeated high-intensity activity by quickly shifting lactic acid from the muscles
Ronaldo will likely be playing his final World Cup this year and will attempt to lead Portugal to their first trophy. The World Cup guide by sports site Ladbrokes details how Portugal’s first match is against bitter rivals Spain. This matchup between two of the best teams in the tournament is a great place to start for those looking to see how fit the top players in the world are.
Becoming soccer fit, as you have probably deduced by now, is no easy feat. But it can be done, though it will take, as mentioned earlier, a lot of work, discipline, and dedication. Now, all that’s left is you giving it your best shot!
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