Declan Rice is one of the stand-out young players in English football at the moment and is known for his physicality in midfield.
Although he has a playful personality, he takes his nutrition, gym work and recovery routine very seriously and leads his teammates by setting the example of a model professional, having already been made captain of West Ham.
Premier League footballers are blessed with state-of-the-art facilities and the latest technology to help them keep fit. Not to mention an army of backroom staff, including physios, nutritionists, analysts and chefs.
Rice recently shed some light on what his usual training, recovery and nutrition programme looks like in an article with GQ Magazine.
Declan Rice’s Nutrition
There are few athletes who are as well supported when it comes to nutrition as top-level footballers, and Rice takes full advantage.
“There’s always chefs on hand and they're pretty amazing – they make sure there’s a load of choice that’s in line with what we need to eat,” he said. “It’s all good simple nutritious food, veggies, carbs, fish and meat. The club also sorts out all our personal nutrition shots, smoothies, protein stuff, so I'm normally getting healthy meals without much effort. I'm the worst cook ever but luckily I've got my mum. She's a health guru herself and if she sees me eating rubbish she’s on my case.
“On game day, whether we've got a 12pm kick-off or an 8pm kick-off, I eat about four hours before, and I always have sea bass and rice. Always. A little bit of sea bass, and a big plate of rice. I used to have chicken and pasta but I felt really heavy and stodgy so after chatting with my nutritionist I switched to sea bass and rice. I've been having that for the past year and a half, and it hasn't gone too badly, so I'll be sticking with it.
“My weakness is sweets. I love them all, anything with a bit of sugar on it. To be fair because of all the running and training we're doing, the odd fizzy drink and sweets every now and then isn't going to harm me, you know?”
Rice’s training can vary a lot depending on what stage of the season it is, but he shared what the training routine looks like in the busiest stages of the calendar and how he recovers in between games.
“In August, when the season starts, there’s only one game a week. So you're doing recovery on Monday, harder training Tuesday, off on a Wednesday, then drills and tactics on Thursday and Friday for the game on Saturday, then you're off or doing recovery on Sunday.
“Obviously, it's during busy months that players pick up injuries so recovery is everything. It’s when we have to be most disciplined away from football too, eating the right things and resting loads.
“Anyway, today [the day after an evening Premier League game] we went in an hour later than normal so that we could have some extra sleep after the game. I did 20 minutes on the bike followed by 15 minutes of stretches on the mats - deep stretches on the whole body. Then the manager wanted us to go for a walk, so we had a little walk. After that we chose between ice baths, cryo chambers, and getting treatment with physios. I got treatment and went in the ice bath. Honestly, I can't tell the difference between them and a cryo chamber, but I feel fresher after an ice bath so I usually choose that. Then we had a big lunch and now I’m back home chilling out, eating and resting. There’ll be a big training session tomorrow to get ready for the next game.
“All the games make it difficult to find the time, but when possible I'm always in the gym doing lower-leg stuff, working on my hamstrings. I use a machine called a hamstring solo machine. You put your legs in and lower yourself down while tensing your hamstrings upwards, it's great for building power in your hammies. The idea is to get them in better shape to be more powerful on the pitch and more agile, while keeping them strong to avoid injury.”