“It’s not always easy getting to the gym after a hard day’s work,” admits Nigel, “but if you’re willing to go that bit further and put in the work, you and your team will reap the rewards.” Here are his top tips for success in the gym.
1 Be professional
“You have to be. As a player, you know what you have to do to get the best out of yourself and that includes going to the gym and putting in the work there. Football isn’t just about the ball and the modern game demands that we all do our best to get that one percent extra from our bodies. It’s all about body management, knowing what needs to be done and doing it.”
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2 Find out what works for you
“Footballers are the same as anyone else. Some love to get into the gym, get onto the weight machines and show off but there are plenty who would rather soak in a long hot bath, read the papers and go home. I’m happy to be in a gym, although I actually don’t go that often – if I can help it, I’ll do something else – but everyone needs their own approach to prepare themselves. Find out what works for you and stick to it. I try to get in the gym about twice a week to do a weight session – after all, you have to make sure you’re keeping up with the lads.”
3 Work your weaknesses
“I focus on my upper body. I leave the legs alone – my work on the training ground deals with them – and get on with working hard on the arms, chest, stomach and shoulders. Working these key areas ensures that I keep up that all-important strength. It doesn’t matter if you’re going shoulder to shoulder with Michael Ballack or some skinhead bruiser from the Dog and Duck, you’d better be prepared. I’m lucky that I’m blessed with natural strength but my work in the gym makes sure I keep the tone and the definition that’s required.”
4 Don’t be a poser!
“At West Ham we had the odd poser, that’s for sure. Anton Ferdinand for example. He loves to get in front of the mirror, pump a bit of iron and admire his handiwork with the weights. We just laughed at him because that boy is seriously lacking in the pecs department, seriously lacking.”