Eating Like a Hamster and Training Like Mo Farah

In the words of Family Guy’s Peter Griffin, “do you know what really grinds my gears?!?!” 

– football players that eat less than my three year old daughter.
– training footballers like middle distance runners.


Okay, so am I just an irritable guy (for those that know me don’t answer that!) or do I have a point here? Lets start with the nutrition problem.
You see, the fact of the matter is that footballers don’t eat enough. How do I know this, because I’ve worked with players aged from nine to thirty, and I know, that while their quite happy to munch on crisps and sweets, their not likely to be ramming fish, steak, chicken and eggs down their necks, five times per day.

So why is eating such a big deal anyway? At ESP all of our players train at least five times per week and some work in full-time jobs as well. This means that their energy expenditure is very high, and so, in order to build muscle and strength they must eat a surplus amount of calories. So how much are we talking here? 
We would recommend, depending on activity, between 3000 and 4000 calories per day. These calories should come mainly from protein and carbohydrate but healthy fats are essential. So what does 4000 calories look like? The chart below will give you a rough idea. 

So if you would rather be powerful and strong like Cristiano Ronaldo, than technically proficient but weak like Peter Crouch, then train hard and eat properly!!!
Ok, so that’s the eating issue addressed, now we come to my latest bugbear, training footballers like distance runners. Our players have recently went back to their clubs for pre-season training where they have been doing 4-6 mile jogs and 4×4 minute runs. Now is it just me, or is this just a waste of valuable training time? At what point in a game of football do you jog steadily, non-stop, for 30-40 minutes? Or, run at sub-maximal speed for 4 minutes straight with no rest, 4 times? 
The sports scientists will argue that it’s a good way to build an aerobic fitness baseline and improve lactic acid tolerance. At ESP we think a little differently, we like to be specific!
In any sport, the training should be specific to its demands. If you watch any top flight football match these days, the game involves repeated maximal effort multi-directional sprints, usually no more than 50 metres, with minimal rest periods. That means the training should involve just that. 
At ESP, for conditioning, we make our athletes perform repeated resisted sprints, hill sprints, sled drags, barbell complexes and multi-direction drills that force the player to increase both their speed, and also their speed endurance. 
We have worked on this, with our players over the last 8 weeks, and that’s the reason why they smoked their team mates on the team sprints, and cruised the pointless 4 mile runs, at training with their clubs this week!
So if you want to be a skinny, weak footballer, then keep on jogging! If on the other hand you want to have horsepower and  be powerful, strong, fast and fit then make sure to add some sprint training into your program. 
Rant over…
Thanks for listening!

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