In the world of football, fans bestow the title ‘Greatest Of All Time’ or ‘G.O.A.T’ upon whoever is the unbeatable champion of the sport. Argentine player Lionel Messi is one of its flag bearers today. He has won many laurels for his country as the captain of their national team, from being the FIFA World Player Of The Year in 2009 and 2010, to breaking German striker Gerd Muller’s historic record of hitting 85 goals in a year in 2012, to winning the Ballon D’Or (the oldest and most prestigious award for football players presented by a French news magazine) for four consecutive years from 2009 to 2012.
People expected his performance to fall after these peak years, but to everyone’s surprise, Messi has only gotten better with time. Even after entering his thirties, his skills on the field are improving. This is a rare occurrence, and the only thing that could be responsible for it is his commitment to fitness. He may be called a natural, but if it hadn’t been for his strict workout and diet plan, he wouldn’t have come so far. As Messi turns 34, AskMen India reveals how he’s upping his game:
Lionel Messi’s workout is focused on functional movements as opposed to weight training. This is because he realizes that while playing football or generally in life, one doesn’t lift weights as much as they lift their own body. Since footballers have to be light on their feet and be swift with their movements on field, Messi works on his speed and agility more than his strength. His routine comprises two parts: linear and multidirectional speed, each containing plyometrics and agility drills that keep his legs fit and flexible. Messi works out five days a week and devotes the remaining two to rest and recovery.
Even though leg strength is of utmost importance to football players, Messi trains core muscles like the abs, back and chest, as they enable his body to move in any direction on the field and have proper balance. He does exercises like pillar bridge fronts, sit-ups, Russian twists and chest press to sharpen his upper body physique. These were an integral part of his at-home workout routine during the lockdown, as all they required were a yoga mat and a heavy plate.
Acceleration and agility
Lionel Messi’s workout primarily consists of lower body movements. These improve his acceleration and agility, which are super important to any football player. His go-to exercises are lunges, squats, hamstring stretches and pillar skips. Some of the more difficult ones are hurdle hops, split squats and rope skipping, which he does every once in a while to boost his leg strength. Once done, he jogs for a couple of minutes to cool down.
You are what you eat. So if you want to be a world-class football-player, you need to have food that is healthy and hearty. Since Lionel Messi grew up in Spain, he has appointed an Italian nutritionist, Giuliano Poser, to monitor his diet. He charts his meal plans on the foundation of water, olive oil, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, which over the course of the last few years, they have figured out, work best for his body.
Lionel Messi’s diet plan majorly comprises raw food. This helps keep his energy levels high, improve digestion and make him feel light. Besides fruits and vegetables, the footballer is said to have a lot of seeds and nuts with his meals. These are loaded with antioxidants that fight inflammation and are a good source of protein for the body, which helps build muscle mass. They also contain micronutrients like vitamins and minerals that support many immune functions and promote healthy growth and development.
No refined sugar and flour
Knowing what not to eat is equally important as knowing what to eat, if not more. For Lionel Messi, the list includes refined sugar and wheat, as they weaken his muscles and lower his metabolism. That’s why the footballer steers away from pizzas, pastas and pastries as much as possible.
Meat is an integral part of people’s diets in Spain, but considering how difficult it is to digest it, excessive consumption of it can be detrimental to a sports person’s health and performance. That’s why Lionel Messi has been instructed to cut down his intake of meat by his nutritionist and consume more vegetarian food instead. This helps him keep his energy levels high and stay light on his feet.
Every once in a while, Lionel Messi treats himself to his favourite meal and Argentina’s delicacy ‘Milanesa’ – a thin layer of beef shallow-fried in breadcrumbs – as a reward for being disciplined with his fitness routine. He also likes to have roasted chicken with root vegetables on his cheat days.
Happy birthday, Lionel Messi! Hope your performance on the field keeps improving as it always has!
Cover artwork by Dhaval Punatar/AskMen India
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