Love him or hate him, no one can deny that Real Madrid and Portuguese international footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is an absolute marvel to watch. As well as possessing unrivalled technical ability and tactical cunning, the root of his success as an attacking midfielder comes from the sheer power he is able to produce from his legs, core and upper body allowing him to glide past players with ease and out-muscle opponents in possession.
At this year’s European Championship, Ronaldo answered many of his critics who argued he is unable to produce his best on the international stage with a series man of the match performances and it didn’t take an expert football pundit to realise that his speed, strength and sheer power on and off the ball is the reason why he has already justified the £80 million price tag Real Madrid paid for him over three years ago.
This therefore is a short guide on how any player, young or old, fast or slow can become a quicker, stronger and albeit more powerful soccer player and make that crucial impact they’ve been dying to make on the pitch when it really matters. Focusing on each body area separately, here is a series of work-outs, exercises and guides on how to start emulating the awesome physical power of CR7.
The upper body – stay strong in possession
You only have to look at some of the physiques of the world’s top players including Ronaldo himself to see that upper body strength is becoming more and more important in modern-day football. When any winger is stuck in a tight situation, surrounded by defenders close to the corner flag, it is his upper body strength that allows him to ward of opposing defenders and keep possession. Upper body strength is not as key as leg strength in football of course but it should still require much attention.
Muscles to target – Chest, triceps and shoulders.
Suggested exercises – barbell bench press, tricep dips, barbell shoulder press.
Frequency – two sets of each to be done once a week, doing no less than 8 single reps at a time.
The core – power begins at the source
Every movement the body makes during sport starts from our small set of core muscles such as our abdominals and other stability muscles such as the Gluteus Maximus. Being able to kick, jump, run and turn at a high level in sport would not be possible without a good solid core. Many amateur athletes make the mistake of thinking that a few sit-ups every week will be enough to see vast improvements. Sit-ups unfortunately only work the body’s abdominal muscles and neglect other key stabiliser muscles. As well as sit-ups here are a few other exercises one could do.
Muscles to target – obliques, abdominals, erector spinae.
Suggested exercises – sit-ups, planks, Russian twists, press-ups.
Frequency – one set of each to be done twice a week, doing no less than 10 single reps at a time.
The legs – run faster, jump higher and tackle harder than ever before
Now we’re onto the most important part of the body of all – the legs. It is pretty self-explanatory as to why legs are so important in football. The more powerful our legs are, the quicker we can move off the ground, the harder we can tackle in challenges and the harder we can kick the ball when shooting or making defensive clearances. Many purists make the arguments that resistance training does not improve sprint speed but you only have to look at Cristiano Ronaldo’s calves to see that it clearly does. There are two key exercises to be done here; the good old-fashioned squat and walking lunge.
Muscles to target – everything!
Suggested exercises – walking lunge, squat, calf raise.
Frequency – 3 sets of each to be done twice a week, doing no more than 12 single reps at a time.
Check out sites such as bodybuilding.com to learn how to do these exercises safely and effectively.