Men's Fitness - - Jack Wilshere -

frac­ture was dis­cov­ered dur­ing pre­sea­son – but he recog­nises ev­ery set­back as an op­por­tu­nity to come back stronger.

‘When I first got in­jured my core strength was ter­ri­ble,’ Wil­shere says be­tween keepie-ups. ‘I was 18, play­ing three times a week and didn’t re­ally do any gym work. All of a sud­den when you’re in­jured you re­alise ev­ery­thing re­volves around your core. It’s cru­cial for bal­ance and ab­sorb­ing im­pact. The first thing my phys­ios got me to work on was my bal­ance.’

The Ar­se­nal phys­io­ther­apy staff got him to start sim­ple. ‘I had to stand on one leg and close my eyes,’ says Wil­shere. ‘I couldn’t do it.’ Once he got the hang of it and could keep his bal­ance for 30 sec­onds, he pro­gressed to do­ing the same thing on a Bosu ball, then in­tro­duced throw­ing and catch­ing medicine balls – pre­sum­ably with his eyes open. ‘It made a big dif­fer­ence when I came back to full fit­ness,’ he says.

Wil­shere uses this drill as part of a tai­lored rou­tine that he’s con­stantly de­vel­op­ing. The day be­fore a match, he starts with stretch­ing and foam rolling to im­prove his an­kle and calf mo­bil­ity. Af­ter a team meet­ing and a short, sharp train­ing ses­sion of keep­ball, he does a 20-minute power work­out in­volv­ing box jumps and loaded jump squats. ‘I work on my speed and strength ev­ery day,’ he says. ‘I do a lot of work on my first five yards. For a foot­baller that’s re­ally im­por­tant.’ To fin­ish, he works on his chis­elled rock-solid core with his eight­minute abs ses­sion (see the box on p54). As part of in­jury re­hab he uses a vi­cious 5km Wat­tbike chal­lenge to top up his stamina (see the box ‘Re­boot Camp’, op­po­site).


Wil­shere’s core and bal­ance might ini­tially have needed work, but power is one as­set he’s al­ways had in spades, al­low­ing him to al­ways play in older age groups as he rose through Ar­se­nal’s youth ranks to the first team. But at se­nior level, and es­pe­cially af­ter in­jury, it’s much tougher for your fit­ness to reach the heights de­manded by the most phys­i­cal of Europe’s top leagues.

‘The in­ten­sity of the Premier League is in­cred­i­ble,’ says Wil­shere. ‘The lev­els of fit­ness you have to reach just to sur­vive in it is ab­surd. When you’re out for a few months it’s tough to come back. It takes a lot of work in the gym with the phys­ios, the spe­cial­ists, you’re will­ing to try any­thing that will help you get fit.’

He’s un­doubt­edly in the right place. When French man­ager Arsène Wenger ar­rived at Ar­se­nal in 1996 – five years be­fore Wil­shere joined the Ar­se­nal Academy at the age of nine – he quickly cleared out an en­trenched drink­ing cul­ture at the club. In its place came ex­perts to im­prove the play­ers’ nutri­tion, fit­ness train­ing and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion that brought with it a pe­riod of sus­tained do­mes­tic suc­cess.

The latest ad­di­tion is Amer­i­can Shad Forsythe, who joined from the back­room

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