Fit as a foot­baller

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The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Health -

AS some of the world’s finest legs dash round South African foot­ball pitches this June, many peo­ple could be left look­ing at their own pins with a glum face. But take heart: You don’t need an army of per­sonal train­ers and nu­tri­tion­ists to get a foot­baller’s body.

Ac­cord­ing to Max­imus­cle sports nu­tri­tion­ist Simon Jurkiw, who has worked with nu­mer­ous high­pro­file foot­ball clubs and play­ers, says a sim­ple train­ing pro­gramme and sen­si­ble diet can help any­one be as fit as a foot­baller.


The mod­ern foot­ball train­ing ses­sion fo­cuses on in­creas­ing fit­ness, mus­cle strength, co-or­di­na­tion and in­jury pre­ven­tion, but the trap­pings of daily life mean that, for or­di­nary folk, all that be­comes rather im­prac­ti­cal.

In pur­suit of the cov­eted foot­baller’s bod, though, one thing is im­per­a­tive: Stop-start sprint­ing.

Not only is it less time-con­sum­ing than te­dious, long runs, but it im­proves your metabolism - and it’s a prin­ci­pal build­ing block in a foot­baller’s physique.

“Men will run, at high-level com­pe­ti­tion, be­tween about 10 and 12km ev­ery game and they’ll sprint about 15 me­tres about ev­ery 30 sec­onds,” Jurkiw ex­plains.

“Women will be do­ing some­thing very sim­i­lar to that.”

To get a foot­baller’s body, you need to repli­cate that, so just jog­ging for hours on end won’t cut the mus­tard. For sculpted steel buns and thighs, you need to be aim­ing for about 6-8km of re­peated sprints - about the same as a recre­ational player gets through in 90 min­utes.

You’ll also burn more off with sprint train­ing than with your typ­i­cal gym work­out.

While an hour on a cross-trainer burns roughly 600 calo­ries, ac­cord­ing to Jurkiw, your av­er­age 75-kilo foot­baller burns about 1,300-1,400 calo­ries in one game.

Try sprint­ing for 20-30 sec­onds, then walk­ing, with a work-tor­est ra­tio of 1:2, and re­peat five times. Be sure to start and fin­ish with a warm-up and cool-down and build up as your con­di­tion im­proves.


Strength, or ‘re­sis­tance’, train­ing is cru­cial in strength­en­ing and ton­ing mus­cles. Few women dream of hav­ing gi­ant shoul­ders or bulging bi­ceps, but sculpt­ing your new foot­baller’s body needn’t mean lift­ing heavy things with the meat-heads in the weight room. A sim­ple pro­gramme of home ex­er­cises can help to get some shape in your legs and wob­bly bits.

Each per­son’s body is dif­fer­ent, so if in doubt as to the best plan for you, ask ad­vice - or try some of the fol­low­ing: • Light squats (your body weight

should be on your heels as you squat down, and your knees in line with your toes); • Ab­dom­i­nal crunches (keep­ing your feet and lower back flat on the floor as you raise your up­per back); • Planks (hold your body on your fore­arms in a press-up po­si­tion, keep your back flat, and hold your abs in tight for 30-60 sec­onds); • Lunges (hold­ing dumb­bells at your sides, step for­ward and dip to­wards the ground, en­sur­ing your your front knee is not in front of your toes); • Bridges (lie on your side, sup­port your weight on the lower el­bow and lift your hip off the floor, hold­ing for 30-60 sec­onds). Again, make sure you stretch be­fore and af­ter.


Short sprints and re­sis­tance train­ing are both forms of anaer­o­bic ex­er­cise - your mus­cles burn en­ergy with­out the need for oxy­gen, pro­duc­ing lac­tic acid (and aching as a re­sult). Be sure, there­fore, to mix that with aer­o­bic - or ‘car­dio­vas­cu­lar’ ex­er­cise. That means any­thing that will get you puff­ing - use a gym ma­chine, like a step­per bike or tread­mill, if you pre­fer.

If anaer­o­bic fit­ness is like a pow­er­ful sports car that can ac­cel­er­ate hard and hit high speeds, aer­o­bic fit­ness is like a car with a lit­tle en­gine - less pow­er­ful but able to drive for longer on the same amount of fuel.

It’s the bal­ance be­tween aer­o­bic fit­ness (for 90 min­utes of con­tin­u­ous move­ment) and anaer­o­bic fit­ness (for bursts of speed) that marks a foot­baller’s body out as dif­fer­ent to that of a body builder, or a dis­tance run­ner.


All that ac­tiv­ity re­quires fuel - lots of fuel. Many ladies are wary of gob­bling carbs, but they’re your body’s pre­ferred source of en­ergy.

Both women and men’s daily re­quire­ments are rel­a­tive to body weight: a pro­fes­sional would typ­i­cally take on around 6-8g of car­bo­hy­drate for ev­ery kilo of body weight, while part-time folk are fine on around 4g per kilo.

There­fore, on an full ex­er­cise day, you might try por­ridge with fruit for break­fast and some­thing like a rice or pasta dish for lunch.

Around 100g of rice or pasta gives you ap­prox­i­mately 60g of carbs, which Jurkiw says you should mix with some­thing like chicken, salad or veg.

Din­ner, he adds, de­pends more on the in­di­vid­ual.

Many health-or weight-con­scious peo­ple are re­luc­tant to eat late in the day, but your body will need re­fu­elling af­ter ex­er­cise .

Jurkiw ex­plains: “If you think of your mus­cle as like a fuel tank, you’re try­ing to fill it to the top. The quicker you have it (fuel), the eas­ier it is, be­cause of dif­fer­ent re­cep­tors, for your mus­cle to fill the tank up straight away.”

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