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Phil Neville's 24-hour fitness plan

Find out how the former Manchester United and Everton star made sure he was still fighting fit even at the end of his distinguished 18-year career.

6am: Wake up and salute the sun

“I get up and perform five sun salutations [yoga] for around three minutes. The movements warm up every part of my body. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and feel stiff, and these essential exercises send energy to my muscles.”

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6.30am: Fuel for the day

“For breakfast I have porridge with some fruit – anything from strawberries, pineapple, melon or an orange. I like to have a cup of tea and a glass of orange juice, then it’s off to work.”

8.30am: The first of many drinks
“I take a bottle of water in the car. They say you should have four to five bottles of water a day. I have one on the way to the training ground and one on the way back, and drink the rest when I’m there. On the drive to work I like to relax and not really think about football. It’s an opportunity to switch off.”

9am: Yoga again

“The first thing I do when I’m at the training ground is a 30-minute yoga session with a couple of the other players. Yoga has 26 poses, and our teacher will concentrate on five or six tailored for the movements of football. I pay particular attention to my hips and my groin.”

9.30am: Get those legs pumping

“It’s time for the gym, where I get on the bike, working at 70/80 rpm, for 10-15 minutes to loosen myself up. Then I go into my knee activation work. This involves doing work with small speed hurdles for 20 minutes. A simple drill is to stand side-on in front of six speed hurdles and shuffle through each one, making sure to drive your left leg up and over the hurdle at a 90-degree angle.”


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10am: Drink up

“This is when I re-hydrate with a protein drink.”

10.30am: “Let’s get warmed up”

“Having changed, it’s time to start training with the rest of the lads. We start with a jog, followed by stretches and then mobility speed exercises – five minutes on each exercise.”

11am: New balls please

“Now we work on getting a feel for the ball by playing keep-ball in small spaces. You can play three vs one, six vs two or five vs two. The player or players in the middle stay in for 30 seconds, even if they get the ball. Make it a competition: whoever wins the ball back the most times wins.”

11.30am: Possession, possession, possession

“Now to more structured possession drills with different rules. For example, you play four vs four, with one team defending a line (the halfway line within the centre circle, for instance). The aim of the attacking team is to get the ball over the line. They can only score by either dribbling the ball over the line, or exchanging a completed pass. It’s up to the defence to hold their line and remain disciplined.

11.45am: Know your position

“We now play small-sided or full-sided games, or work on phases of play that focus on team shape and tactics.”

12pm: Time to feel the burn

“If it’s early in the week we do a total body weight circuit. If it’s late in the week we’ll just focus on upper body. Total body involves doing six exercises:
16 x push-ups; 10 x squats wearing an 18kg weight vest; 
10 (each leg) x overhead dumbbell split squat using 10-16kg weight; 
10 (each leg) x split squat with hip rotation using 8kg medicine ball; 
5 (each side) x diagonal cable wood chops;
 10 (each leg) x split squat with barbell. We repeat the circuit three times.

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12.30pm: And… relax

“I have a protein shake and then jump in the ice bath for six minutes. It’s important to get the protein on board to help repair the muscles after lifting weights.”

1pm: Feed your weary muscles

“I eat chicken, veg and salad. I also have some bread and potatoes to get my dose of carbs. I have two bottles of water in the afternoon as well as some strawberries and a yoghurt.”


2pm: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz...

“When I get home I sleep for an hour and a half. When I wake up I have a snack or a protein bar. Then the kids get home and then it’s homework time. Sleep in the afternoon is the most important part of the day. It’s crucial to recovery.”

6pm: What, more food?

“I load up on carbs and protein with chicken or fish, and some vegetables and potatoes.”

9.30pm: Protein and pillows

“About 9 o’clock I have a protein shake before going to bed around 9.30pm.”

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