Strive for a better physical edge

Malaysia fitness trainer Reuben Jude Balraj tells FourFourTwo footballers must help themselves in a simple guide on how to maintain a good physical condition.

Not being a coach potato before pre-season

“A common mistake is being a coach potato during the off-season. Pre-season should not only start when a player reports in at the start. Players should be at least 50 per cent fit when pre-season begins.

More after the break

“Just spending 45 minutes a day, five times a week, on conditioning work is sufficient. Day 1 could be aerobics, swimming and jogging. The next day, players can work on their core muscles and do stretching. Day three could be spent in the gymnasium working on strength. Day four and players could get some cardio work under their belt before wrapping it up with some endurance and strength routines on day five.

“You need a good preparation before entering eight months of heavy demand in football. It’s like starting a car … when you don’t intend to use for extended periods, you still need to keep the engine running every few days.”

The gym should not be a stranger

“The physique is important. Injuries can be prevalent if strengthening exercises are not balanced. The core muscles must be strong. The more time you spend working on your abs, the better your posture. This will equate to longer minutes in a match.

“Another important muscle are the quadriceps and hamstrings. This must be well balanced to prevent injuries. More emphasis is often mistakenly placed on the quadriceps, and this leads to muscles imbalance.”

 Invest time (or find another job)

“Playing football is a career and hence it’s a player’s job to be fully prepared, like in any other profession. Time needs to be invested improving oneself. Most of the key work a player needs to do is actually away from team training, on his own.

“Balancing time is important. It’s not just how hard you train; how well you rest and what you consume is key too. There are the basics of being sportsman. Taking lots of water is a given, and supplements such as multivites and protein powders help, too.”

Repeated training drills help

“You don’t necessarily need to do cardio, endurance or such all the time to keep fit. Identify what technical aspect of your game you need to work on and zoom in on that. For example, crosses may be a weakness so just spend 15-20 minutes a week on it – on top of what you already do in team training.

“Do the extra work. If David Beckham could do it to perfect his free-kicks and crosses, there shouldn’t be excuses for others.”

Be honest

“Never fake or hide your condition. If you are suffering pain from an injury, announce it at training. Otherwise it could be aggravated into something more severe. It’s the duty of trainers like myself to identify what load to give players, and getting honest feedback will help in determining the right load.”

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