“Fitness is now just part of my lifestyle. Five years ago I made the decision to really focus on health and wellbeing, because a footballer’s career is a short one and I’m not getting any younger. I try and find out any way possible to gain an edge. I research super athletes in football, basketball and many other sports to see what I can take from them and add to my game.
More after the break
When we play for Portugal we give each other information. Cristiano and Bruno Alves are really passionate about being fit and healthy so we talk about it a lot. Ronaldo is very similar to someone like LeBron James – they’re both 32 and still thriving at the top level because of his dedication to his body. He even has his own personal trainer at home so he can train away from Real Madrid.
Technique + physicality
Ronaldo is a prime example of what you need to do to be successful in the modern game. You have to be disciplined and live like an athlete to reach the top – you can’t just rely on technique anymore. I think the mindset of players has really shifted. In the Premier League, players like Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are phenomenal physically, particularly Zlatan when you consider that he's 35. Then you have a player like Sergio Aguero, who is sharp, agile and has explosive acceleration. As a defender, you now need to have a body, which can adapt to all of these physical threats.
I always have a bit of protein with my breakfast, which is something people often don’t do. I’ll have smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and maybe some porridge as well. Lunch is dependant on what the chef cooks at the training ground, but I normally go for fish such as cod, or chicken, with vegetables like broccoli and asparagus. I’ll often have a protein shake as a snack in the afternoon and then dinner will be very similar to lunch, but my carbohydrate intake is less.
I do three or four gym sessions on top of my football training every single week. I always do pre-hab work for 10 minutes to warm-up before every session. At the start of the week my focus is on strength in the gym, so I’ll do full body workouts in which I lift quite heavy and then taper down towards the end of the week, so I’m lifting lighter, but for more repetitions so I’m fresh on a Saturday afternoon.
Sleep has become such an important part of my recovery. I always try and sleep for a minimum of eight hours every night and have a nap for an hour in the afternoon. I think it’s important to try and get into a pattern and a routine so you recover from training as quickly as possible.