Lionel Messi is a legend like no other. Winning 4 Ballon Do’or awards in a row is no ordinary feat, and most players can only dream of winning one. He’s one of the greatest athletes of this generation and is a great source of inspiration for young boys and girls everywhere. He makes everything look so easy – scoring 96 goals in a calendar year, winning 4 Ballon Do’or awards in a row. How does he do it all? What is his secret? Does it have anything to do with what he eats? Is there a specific fitness program that he follows? As a matter of fact, he does. He follows a very stringent fitness routine that enables him to stay fit and maintain his form throughout the season. And to maintain a high level of consistency in his performance on the pitch, he makes sure he sticks to the routine.
Lionel Messi’s workout regime consists of mainly two sets of exercises. The first set deals with improving instant thrust and one-directional speed while the second set deals with improving his multi-directional movements.
Workout for instant thrust and linear speed
The first set of exercises, mainly focuses on improving his movement in a single direction i.e. Backward and forward. These exercises help promote sudden bursts of pace, as well as abrupt decelerations. The workout includes a series of stretching exercises as well as some leg-strengthening squats. This includes pillar bridges, squat jumps, rope skipping, hopping hurdles, short sprints and a 5-minute run. These are followed by split squat jumps, acceleration wall drills, acceleration split dance, and acceleration to base. To strengthen his ankles, knees, and hips, he also performs knee hugs, inverted hamstring stretches, pillar skips and rapid response 2-foots.
Workout for improving multi-directional movements
Messi is almost impossible to catch when he starts dribbling because of his constant pace-changing movements in different directions. Such elusive movements require great balance and coordination, and the body needs to be well conditioned for that sort of gravity-defying movements. This 2nd set of exercises enables him to condition his body and achieve that incredible level of balance and stability.
Stretching exercises are included in this set of exercises, including another round of pillar bridges, along with lateral lunges and rotational lunge stretches, which work out and stretch the trunk, hip flexor, groin, legs and glutes. These are then followed by pillar skips and rapid response 1-foot lateral bases, before another round of hurdle hops, lateral bounds and lateral shuffle to cut.
Both workouts are designed to enhance his speed, agility, stability, and balance, as well as foot and muscle coordination.
After a heavy and stressful workout throughout the day, Messi follows a power yoga program under Rodney Yee, an American professional yoga instructor. The yoga helps rejuvenate his mind and maintain peace and harmony within himself.
You cannot be one the best athletes on the planet without a balanced and healthy diet to back you up. Messi, in particular, is very strict about his diet and starts taking dietary preparations for an upcoming match a week before the match is scheduled to be held.
10 days before the game, he starts altering his diet by cutting down on his intake of carbohydrates and increasing his consumption of proteins. He increases his carb intake gradually as the match draws near. In this way, his muscles would increase more carb consumption, as well as maximising all the blood sugar available. With a low-carb diet, he increases his protein intake by drinking 3-4 protein shakes a day, along with 6-7 glasses of water.
As the match draws to a close, Messi ups his intake of carbohydrates, giving his body a boost of energy and stamina. 5 days before the game, he eats soup as part of every single meal. The soup includes important ingredients like turmeric, chilli, coriander and ginger. These spices are vaso-dilators, which means they facilitate the smooth blood flow.
A day before the game, he consumes protein-rich foods like fish, chicken, and prawns, along with potatoes and fresh green vegetables.
6 hours before the game, you’ll either find him sleeping or eating porridge with egg whites.
90 minutes before the game, he indulges in a snack of fresh fruits, which includes bananas, apples, and mangoes.