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6 Steps for Ronaldo-Esque Football Fitness

Posted by Gary Rafferty | 21st September 2018

Do you ever wonder just HOW Ronaldo went from skinny teenager to a physical specimen?!


Let’s not kid ourselves here, he is at the very top level of physical sporting performance. He can jump as high as a basketball player and runs as fast as competitive sprinters. He’s also 33 with 8% bodyfat.


Combine that with world class technical ability, ridiculous dedication and 15 years playing at the pro level and you have a player that many believe is the G.O.A.T.


Want to perform physically like Cristiano Ronaldo?


Of course you do, keep reading.


Want to play like him?


Well you’ll probably have to stop reading and get back on the pitch.

Let’s Be Honest

We unfortunately can’t tell you EXACTLY what Ronaldo did over the last 15-20 years physically. We have some of the ‘supposed’ plan he did here and there just like everyone else who has did research on him.


But what works for him, may not work for you. Also, if you are someone who is trying to follow the training plan of an elite pro and you are not an elite pro, then you are definitely missing the mark!!


It’s also a bit foolish to believe that his level of fitness was developed with an 8-week challenge at his local gym (#gainz bro). This was a real long term development…SHOCK!


What?! You mean he actually trained with world class coaches week after week, month after month, year after year, consistently and then got brilliant results? Surely not!


So you haven’t played for Man United, Real Madrid, Portugal, Juventus, you don’t get paid to train full time for years on end and you don’t earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per week…so what can you do to get yourself even close to his level?



The Six Steps You Have To Check Off

Don’t skip a step! One must be developed to an acceptable level before prioritising the next. You can still train the other steps but your priority must lie in your area of weaknes

  1. Nutrition, Sleep and Mindset

    At Man Utd Rio Ferdinand talks about how Ronaldo hired his own nutritionist and cook who often lived at his house. He doesn’t drink alcohol, regularly speaks about his sleep expert he’s worked with at Madrid and of course his confidence speaks for itself.

    Before you go off worrying about increasing your top speed or how to change direction quicker you need to sort your nutrition, sleep and mindset.

    If these are not in check then EVERYTHING from here on in will produce sub-par results. See a nutritionist if you have to. Get 7-9 hours sleep and remove yourself from anyone and everything in your life that drains you mentally and helps (not hinders) you.


  2. Movement Efficiency


    Ronaldo had a discussion with Usain Bolt back in 2009 about running technique to become more efficient.

    We obviously want to maximise performance but we also want to minimise your risk of injury.

    Are you someone always carrying little niggles, have poor mobility/stability around your joints or lacking flexibility? Sort this out.

    There is no use being a great player if you’re always on the physio table. Ensuring you move with quality also reduces the chance that you are going to be wasting energy over the course of 90 minutes. Imagine you were able to run faster just by improving your technique, working on some mobility and then putting it into practice.


  3. Fitness Capacity

    Now the good stuff!

    Ronaldo obviously did nothing special here. He just trained as a professional footballer most of his life. Fitness capacity is never going to be an issue.

    If you want to improve your speed/power for match day then you’ll also need to work on your capacity to recover from those rapid sprints otherwise you’ll have one really fast sprint in 90 minutes – incredible stats. We want you to run fast, recover, repeat when necessary for 90 minutes +.

    Your aerobic fitness is what helps you recover quickly from these sprints. It also helps you recover from training in time for the next session or match. So if your capacity is poor (Resting heart rate, YoYo tests, 60s Heart Rate Recovery) then be sure to spend a bit of training getting it up to par first.

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  4. Body Fat or Muscle Mass
    6 ..

    Fat don’t fly. Losing some body fat and bodyweight for some is a sure fire way to improve your speed.

    Ronaldo has been lean since I can remember but he was also skinny early on, and added some mass. Ronaldo is even quicker with more muscle mass, not more fat. Ronaldo didn’t skip step 4.

    If you are already lean…then add some muscle mass. If you’re fat, lose some bodyfat whilst maintaining your strength.

    This doesn’t mean you should be chasing a chest day. You’re a football player who’s training for performance not for aesthetics. We want functional muscle hypertrophy (muscle gain).


  5. Strength

    You won’t see Ronaldo getting bullied off the ball very often. He was clearly on an effective program at Man United as he went from boy to man. He also has a home gym to keep himself going.

    You’ve built a solid base. The more effort you put into step 1-4 the more opportunity you have to develop strength which is the underpinning quality of speed and power!

    This part isn’t complicated and don’t confuse being strong with muscle mass. Strength is largely neuromuscular. Let’s aim to be stronger than we look as opposed to looking stronger than we are.


  6. Speed & Power

    Type in Ronaldo jump into google. I’m sure that’s evidence enough of his power.

    He also has the fastest sprint time recorded at 2018 world cup…at 33 years old.

    Now that you’ve worked hard to optimise every other area of the steps, you’ve done everything you can to improve speed & power without even focusing on training it!

    Now you are now well placed to prioritise your speed & power training because everything else has been maxed out. You of course should still be attempting to maintain your other developed qualities.


Unsure where to start or how to write a program that will get you to the next level? Register for our  Raise Your Standard: Off-Season Program or try some online coaching here and our experienced football fitness coaches will do just that all for you.