Lionel Messi is widely considered the talent of his generation.
His skill on the football pitch, particularly his ability to dribble with the ball, is simply mesmerising.
But the Argentinian’s remarkable agility and ability to accelerate away from defenders is no coincidence.
He’s adopted a strict nutrition programme and spends a lot of time doing specific exercises to help him perform when it counts.
Lionel Messi’s Fitness Regime
The training Messi does without a football revolves around specific exercises and drills to build the two assets that make him so difficult to play against.
Speed and agility.
He starts his workouts with some coordination and activation exercises like lunges, pillar bridge fronts and pillar skips.
Then he moves on to exercises aimed at building leg and core strength. Bulgarian split squats are a favourite, and he’ll also do lots of hurdle jump overs and other plyometric exercises.
To finish the explosive power part of his workouts he does some acceleration drills that you’d often see a sprinter doing.
In terms of agility work, Messi practices skipping past diagonal cones or hurdles to improve his ankle conditioning and ability to move laterally.
He’ll end every workout by jogging for five or 10 minutes to cool down, and then make sure he drinks plenty of water to assist his recovery.
Messi started to concentrate on what he was eating a lot more as he moved into his mid-20s, realising he couldn’t get away with eating what he could when he was 18 or 19.
He started working with Italian nutritionist Giuliano Poser in 2014 overhauling his diet completely.
Now it’s based on five key foods: water, olive oil, whole grains, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables.
Poser also tries to steer the Barcelona forward away from sugar as much as possible: “Sugar is the worst thing for the muscles,” he once told the Independent. “Refined flours are also a big problem as these days, it’s difficult to find uncontaminated wheat."
This strict diet and regular conditioning work are what have kept the 34-year-old in such excellent shape, and allowed him to maintain a high power-to-weight ratio throughout his career.