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Fitness & Health

06th Aug 2019

How top Premier League footballers train in the gym for peak performance

Emulate the efforts of Virgil Van Dijk, Sergio Aguero and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with this set of Premier League gym workouts

Alex Roberts

The Premier League season begins this weekend, which means players are upping the intensity of their training schedules in preparation for kick-off

Ever wondered how your favourite Premier League star trains in the gym? Although there is some consistency in the fitness tests players are put through, not all footballers follow the same plan.

For most Premier League footballers, each player will train slightly differently in the gym according to their position and style of play.

With this in mind, PureGym Manchester personal trainer Phil Williams has created some special workouts aimed to help you emulate Virgil Van Dijk, Sergio Aguero or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

What’s more, implementing these workouts into your regime is a lot easier than smashing a 30-yard screamer into the top corner.

Virgil Van Dijk workout

As one of the most dominant defenders on the planet, Van Dijk needs to keep the pressure on opposing strikers by limiting their time on the ball. To do this, he needs immense strength and power. Follow these exercises:

  • Bulgarian split squat: 4 x 6 (2-3 minute rest between sets)
  • Single leg box jump: 4 x 6 (2-3 minute rest between sets)
  • Prowler push: heavy for 10 seconds (1 minute rest between sets)
  • Pendlay row / super-set with barbell push press: 3 x 6 (2-3 minute rest between sets)

These exercises build strength and power on one foot (similar to the running stance of a footballer) rather than two. The goal is to increase the weight on a weekly / bi-weekly basis.

Sergio Aguero workout

As a diminutive striker, Aguero needs to be elusive and ready to pounce at any moment. Taking a second to rest (and subsequently switching off) can be the difference between a goal and a win, and getting nothing.

This is where the following gym lifts come in handy:

  • Barbell lateral lunge 3 x 12 each leg (90 seconds rest between sets)
  • Ladder in-and-outs into sprint 5 sets (90 seconds rest between sets)
  • Treadmill interval training 10 seconds on/20 seconds off x 8
  • Prowler push lighter weight, as quick as possible (60 seconds rest between sets)

This workout can be done as four separate exercises, or if you want to increase the intensity as a HIIT workout, complete all four exercises back-to-back.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang workout

Aubameyang is one of the fastest players in the Premier League, if not the entire planet. Regularly posting sprint times which rival the world’s best, his job is to get in behind the opposing team’s defensive line and closer to the goalkeeper, which is why he must be fast and agile.

Here is a gym workout for increasing pace:

  • Dumbbell step-ups: 3 x 6 each side (1-2 minutes rest between sets)
  • Interval sprints: (10 seconds on 20 seconds off x 8)
  • Hip thrusts: 3 x 8 (1-2 minutes rest between sets)
  • Depth drops: 3 x 8 (1-2 minutes rest between sets)

Increasing speed by driving off one foot is essential for strikers. Working your lower body through single leg work, at a low rep range, will increase strength and power. Depth drops will also improve reaction time.

How to recover like a Premier League pro

Training the right way is essential, but how do you recover properly, ready for the next match?

Footballers plan for recovery ahead of time. During pre-season, players have less recovery time as they’re continually improving their cardiovascular fitness. However, as soon as the season ends, recovery becomes a priority.

  • Active recovery: Light movements like walking or cycling stimulate blood flow and reduce muscle soreness
  • Increase protein intake: Protein builds and repairs muscles. Two grams of protein per kg of body weight should set you on the right track for successful recovery
  • Quality sleep: Improve your sleep quality by going to bed earlier or limiting time spent scrolling through social media/watching TV before bed. Aim for between six and eight hours of sleep every night
  • Hydration: On average, a footballer will run between eight and 12 kilometres per game. A two percent drop in hydration levels can be enough to notice a drop in performance, so hydration is vital. Weigh yourself before and after training and drink 1.5 times the amount of fluid you lose through sweating. Aim to drink a minimum of two litres of water per day when you’re not training.

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