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Health and fitness


How to stay at your personal best

Millions of people have returned to gyms, swimming pools and sports clubs in recent weeks in search of their fitness fix – but training alone isn’t enough for you to reach peak physical health. A balanced diet, quality sleep and hydration are vital to prepare and recover from sporting performance, but even then you may still need a little help to keep your body in tip top shape. Hard bouts of training and competition can compromise your immune system and make it difficult to replenish your bod

How Harlequins fuelled the greatest comeback in Premiership history

It was a comeback that defied logic. Harlequins’ season was all but over as they trailed Bristol 28-0 after 30 minutes of their 2021 Premiership rugby semi-final before a miraculous revival. Four second half tries saw Quins stun Bristol and level the scores at the end of normal time before they completed an incredible turnaround to win the game 43-36 after extra time. Fans and pundits have since been asking the same question – how did Harlequins find the physical and mental fortitude to figh

Sprint and climb with Beta Alanine

High intensity sessions are vital for training your body to cope with the demands of competition when you’re sprinting for the finish line or pushing through the pain on that steep climb. But our bodies can only operate at a high intensity for short periods before they begin to tire and our pace starts to slow, meaning you need optimal nutrition to maximise your intensity. Luckily for you, we’ve developed a world-class Beta Alanine supplement that is proven to boost performance during high int

Train harder and recover faster with Omega 3

When you’re balancing training with the demands of work and your personal life, it isn’t easy to maintain a balanced diet and consume all of your essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, studies (1) have shown that most people who eat a Western diet don’t consume enough Omega 3 and that could have a negative impact on health, performance and recovery after training. But don’t worry, we’ve got all the information you need on the importance of Omega 3, how to get enough of it in your diet, and

Performance Multivitamin - Your daily health insurance policy

If you’re a runner, cyclist, swimmer or take part in any other endurance sport you’ll know just how hard it is to stay on top of meal prep and get all your essential vitamins and minerals in your diet. But without them you could struggle to recover efficiently between training and competition and eventually that could have an impact on your performance – and not for the better. Exercise places stress on the body and if you don’t consume enough quality nutrition your body will struggle to ad

How to bulk up for first team football

The differences between academy and first team football Premier League footballers cover 25-35 kilometres per week and 1300-3500 metres of high speed running, depending on the number of games they play in that week. That workload is considerably more than the physical demands placed upon an academy player, meaning additional physical work is required off the pitch to help youngsters to make the step up. A recent study showed that first team and under-21 players weigh more than under-18 player

How to fuel football training

How does training compare with the demands of a game? Footballers cover between 10-13 km per game, but the physical demands of training sessions are considerably less. Total distance on a training day may range from 2-6 km depending on the day of the week and when the training session is completed in relation to the match. How much carbohydrate should I eat on a training day? Ninety minutes of football significantly depletes your energy stores, so much so that 50% of your muscles fibres will

Eat, drink and sleep like a footballer

Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground is a £15 million facility equipped with everything a footballer needs to stay at the top of his game. But before the club’s players set foot on one of the pristine training pitches or head to the gym, they’re educated on how to keep their body in shape. Villa’s sports science department prepare a slideshow which they present to academy and first team players, detailing the basic information they need to ensure they’re eating and drinking correctly an

How many carbs, protein and fat: How much should you eat?

How do the nutritional demands of football differ to other sports? Football is a high intensity, intermittent sport and one of the big differences to other sports is you don’t have access to energy and food during a game. A cyclist can take on board energy gels and caffeine as they ride but you can’t do that on the pitch. The research at the moment is saying that our carbohydrate stores are depleted after 60 minutes of high intensity explosive exercise. As a general rule, half of a professional

Gym workouts

How to sharpen your change of direction

Plank walkout – 4x30 seconds Hopefully you won’t be spending too much time on your hands and knees on the pitch, but it is a surefire way of strengthening your core. “This is an advanced version of a normal plank,” says Pepys. “By putting your hands out in front of you, you are placing more stress through the abdominal area.” Cable press - 3x12 reps each side Having a glistening set of beach-ready abs is not enough if you want to bob and weave at speed. “This movement works your anterior slin

How to brush off your marker

Bench press If you’re jostling for the ball with a defender, a strong upper body will help you to come out on top. “A dumbbell press is better than using a bar because it will ensure you develop balanced upper body strength. Doing four sets of five reps will improve your strength without making you big like a bodybuilder.” Sets: 4 Reps: 5 Bent over row Spending all day hunched over a laptop could affect your posture and performance on the pitch – but this nifty move will straighten you rig

How to stay fit between games

(Circuit 1 & 2) 30 secs work, 15 seconds rest per exercise (Circuit 2 & 3) 20 secs work, 20 seconds rest per exercise (Circuit 3 & 4) 20 secs work, 10 seconds rest per exercise Kettlebell swings If you want to get your heart and lungs burning like they do on a Saturday afternoon, then this exercise is a great place to start. “Moving resistance at a high intensity will really elevate your heart rate,” says Goff. “Make sure you hinge at your hips, it’s not a squat and swing. Stay tight and do

How to build match fitness - and maintain it

If you’ve had a long lay-off with injury or simply haven’t kicked a football for a few months, then you’ll need to get fit before you lace up your boots again. Rather than jumping on a treadmill and running aimlessly for 30 minutes, try these interval-training sessions from Charlton’s sports scientist, Josh Hornby. He’ll teach you how to build a base level of fitness, increase the intensity and then preserve your hard earned fitness if you don’t have a game. Build a base level of fitness “If

How to boost your jump height

Trap bar deadlift This exercise will super charge your hamstrings and glutes, and is safer than using a traditional barbell. “The trap bar makes it easier for you to avoid rounding your lower back, which can cause injury,” says Pepys. “This means you will be able to lift more weight and get bigger gains.” Split squat If you want to sprint into the 18-yard box and score towering headers on a regular basis, then you will need impressive single leg strength. “If you are comfortable doing a doubl

TRX workout for football

Love them or hate them, squats should be a staple part of every footballers’ gym routine. This exercise is perfect for improving your ability to leap off the ground and will help you to avoid injury by strengthening your knees, quads, hamstrings and glutes. Almost every movement on the pitch is performed on one leg, so it makes sense to improve the strength of each limb individually. Once you are strong enough to do so, perform this exercise slowly until your standing leg is at 90 degrees. If y

The gym-free workout for football

“Stand on one leg and bend forwards while bracing your core until your head and non-standing leg are in a straight line,” says Edmundson. “That leg must be straight to really work your hamstrings.” “This exercise will challenge your core,” Edmundson says. “Get on all fours, raise your knees off the ground and then stand on your tiptoes, keeping your back straight. Crawl forward for two minutes per set, maintaining this position.” “Stand on one leg and put your arms and other leg out in front o

Amir Khan’s summer boot camp

“Hi guys! When FFT got in touch to tell me you wanted some help staying in shape this summer, I just couldn’t wait to share my training secrets. You’re probably wondering: ‘What can a boxer teach a footballer?’ Well, just ask the Bolton players how hard I pushed them at my gym during pre-season. And Mauricio Pochettino has been using boxing to condition his super-fit Spurs players. Harry Kane has been hitting the pads as well as the back of the net. You need to have a great engine for both spo

Health & fitness advice

Should you use free weights or machines?

Want to know what weights you should buy? Check out our guides • Best dumbbells to improve your strength in your home workout • Best kettlebells to buy for home workout • Best weights bench to buy for your home workout We can’t quite put our finger on why, but there’s something manly about holding a pair of rusty old dumbbells in your hands. Plus, strength training using free weights will not only satisfy the alpha male in you – it’ll also help to improve your physical performance out on the pi

Cryotherapy v ice baths

Cryotherapy Imagine standing inside a giant fizzy drinks can engulfed with freezing cold air hitting temperatures below -100 degrees, while wearing nothing but your pants. Got it? You’ve just imagines whole body cryotherapy, which relieves DOMS – delayed onset of muscle soreness – after training and games. Created by a Japanese scientist in the 1970s, the treatment has been used by Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but the jury is out on its credentials. The International Journal of Kin

Foam roller vs trigger point massage ball

If you’ve ever popped down the gym and seen a balding fortysomething straddling a massive marshmallow, you’ve probably seen foam rolling. This anonymous-looking piece of gym equipment is used by footballers to massage their lower body before and after training. Rolling sends a signal to the brain to loosen muscles and increase blood flow to flush out the toxins, produced during intense physical activity. This helps to improve flexibility and accelerate recovery. A study published in the Medicin

How gut health affects performance

With the sun blazing and the smell of a sizzling barbecue wafting through the air, running laps around the local park isn’t too high on your to-do list. Cue internal slanging match. Do it. No. Get up and go. No. Move it you lazy so-and-so. No. Argh! Which voice should you listen to? The one in your stomach, of course. “Your gut has its own nervous system, just like the brain,” says UCLA professor of physiology, psychiatry and biobehavioural sciences, Emeran Mayer. “Ninety per cent of the mess

What is whole body cryotherapy?

What is it? A recovery method used by professional footballers to accelerate rehabilitation from injuries and ease muscle soreness. How does it work? Athletes stand in a chamber exposing their bodies to extreme temperatures as low as -85C, wearing little else but their underpants for up to six minutes. Fun. Who uses it? Champions League winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery, plus Zlatan Ibrahimovic, have all been willing to feel the chill in the name of fitness. Why are they using it

Could earthing solve your injury woes?

Scientists believe earthing – a practice which involves the skin touching either grass, sand, a river, lake or sea - could help you recover from injury and fight illness. A study in 2010 found that a group suffering with DOMS – delayed onset of muscle soreness – after exercise – who routinely came into contact with the Earth for a week, recovered more quickly compared to a group who didn’t. Experts believe the gentle negative charge emitted by the Earth’s surface could help to tackle free radi

How to train for your body type

Spend hours in the gym but can’t put on weight? Chances are you’re an ectomorph. “You’ve a fast metabolism, which means you burn more calories at rest,” says conditioning coach Karl Halabi. “Compound lifts like squats, deadlifts and clean and jerks use multiple muscle groups and stimulate an increase in testosterone,” explains Halabi. “This will help build muscle.” “Consume 500 calories more per day,” says sports nutritionist Gavin Allinson. “Try a protein and carb shake, followed by chicken a

Why do footballers get cramp?

There are few things more painful on a football pitch than the searing agony of your hamstring or calf muscle cramping unexpectedly just as the full-time whistle approaches. For overweight Sunday League players, a lack of fitness would be seem to be the obvious cause, but why do super fit professional footballers also suffer with the same problem? It’s a question we decided to put to Southampton’s director of performance, Mo Gimpel, to find out the answer once and for all so you don’t have to

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