Despite being one of the oldest members of the Liverpool squad, the Yorkshireman is still dominating conditioning tests
James Milner has had a lengthy and successful career. He was, at one point, the youngest ever player in Premier League history when he made his Leeds debut in 2002.
After 17 years at the top, he’s still smashing pre-season tests and finishing ahead of much younger players. It’s completely normal for physical attributes to rapidly decline when a player reaches their mid-thirties, but that clearly isn’t the case for Milner.
Just this week, he topped Liverpool’s pre-season fitness tests – a feat which is testament to his work ethic and professionalism.
What sort of fitness tests did Milner top?
In a clip posted on the official Liverpool FC Twitter account, Milner managed to fend off the efforts of Joe Gomez on the lactate test.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 6, 2019
The lactate test is designed to measure a player’s aerobic endurance levels.
It begins with two slow-paced laps of a circuit. Milner and the rest of the Liverpool squad used the perimeter of their Melwood training pitch as the circuit in this case.
These first two laps are used more as a warm-up. The next three laps are to be done at a medium pace, and then players finish off with four, fast-paced laps. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it’s part-and-parcel of pre-season training for a Premier League football club.
It’s not just running that players use to test their cardio capacity. They also hop on a bike too. But instead of trying to emulate Tour De France riders, they follow a variety of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) known as Tabata.
This cardio concept was popularised in 1996 by a Japanese sports scientist, and was used to whip Olympic athletes into shape. Nowadays, it’s one of the many methods football clubs have at their disposal for boosting the pre-season fitness of the playing squad.
You can perform a Tabata workout on an exercise bike, and the key points are relatively simple to understand:
- Maximum intensity for 20 seconds
- Rest for 10 seconds
- Complete 8 rounds
This short and sharp workout will have you done in as little as four minutes. You’re not getting off lightly, though.
These four minutes are absolute hell, and the key is consistency when it comes to Tabata. Premier League pros would be including it as often as four times a week in their pre-season training.