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Training Takeaways: Cristiano Ronaldo’s Complete Workout Routine and Diet Plan
By Nikolina Ilic | Jun 29, 2021
At 34-years-old, Juventus star Cristiano Ronald is still at the top of his game. How? Well, it’s partly thanks to the extra measures he takes to remain at his zenith in international football, where he (and, admittedly, his support team) utilise various tips, tricks and hacks to keep him on top form.
The Real Madrid soccer player, who has been awarded title of the world’s supreme male athlete,
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Diet Plan
It’s been reported that Ronaldo follows the ‘little and often’ method of eating — small meals regularly dispersed throughout the day — topping up his stores every three to four hours, helping him support muscle growth and keep his metabolism firing. For example, he typically divides his daily food intake into six smaller meals, which he consumes at intervals of 2-4 hours. This not only sustains a consistent and optimal rate of metabolism, but it prevents the body from experiencing weakness and hunger throughout the day. Crucially, this method also keeps his body fat levels extremely low.
“Eat regularly,” Ronaldo says. “If you train regularly it’s important to keep energy levels high to fuel your body for better performance. I sometimes eat up to six smaller meals a day to make sure I have enough energy to perform each session at top level.”
Whole grains, fresh fruit, lean proteins (think sea bass, swordfish, cod and other fish) all feature in Cristiano’s diligent diet plan, alongside plenty of salad on the side. That’s joined by protein shakes and joint supplements, which likewise aid with muscle recovery after an intense workout or football match.
As for no-gos, previous team mates of Ronaldo’s have noticed that he avoids drinking carbonated drinks and eating red meats or frozen food. Again, a simple approach to nixing hidden calories. “Drinking water is so important,” Ronaldo affirms.
As for his favourite dish? It’s called Bacalhau à Brás and it layers salted cod, onions, thinly sliced fried potatoes, black olives, and parsley atop a pile of scrambled eggs.
- Cheese, ham, low-fat yogurt, fruit and avocado on toast
- Juice and coffee: Being Portuguese, and specifically hailing from Madeira, Ronaldo has a taste for fruits and juices, according to Le10Sport. Ronaldo’s preferences include pear, apple, or pineapple juice, but he is also very fond of coffee.
- Sardines: Ronaldo loves fish so much that he will even incorporate it into dishes he prepares himself, like taking sardines straight from the tin and dumping them onto fresh bread.
- Sport’s drink: “I stay hydrated with a sports drink that gives me energy for training and matches. It has a mix of carbohydrates that boosts endurance and is lower than many other sports drinks in sugar. It also contains electrolytes to help with hydration and vitamin B12 that fights fatigue.”
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Seafood: Ronaldo has a love of fish and likes gilt-head bream, swordfish, and sea bass the most.
- Steak and salad: It’s not all about fish for Ronaldo, as he also enjoys a steak. In fact, when he eats out at restaurants, he frequently orders steak and salad.
- Chocolate: Regardless of how otherworldly his soccer skills are, Ronaldo is still human and enjoys chocolate.
- Birthday cake: He has been spotted on social media digging into to some birthday cake on the rare occasion.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Workout Plan
The athlete starts with a warm-up to decrease the risk of injury. “In training we do a few laps of the pitch, stretching and cardio warm-up exercises,” Ronaldo explains.
“Make sure you do something similar in your training, even if it is jogging to the gym or a warm up on the treadmill or bicycle.”
When in the gym, Ronaldo’s main workout is split between cardiovascular training – such as running and rowing – and weights. “Mix it up,” Ronaldo advises – as well as keeping things interesting, it’s important to ensure all areas of the body are targeted and exercises improve both strength and stamina.
On the pitch, the focus is on high-intensity drills that reflect match situations. “We do a lot of sprinting drills in training and they can be incorporated into your workout whether you are in the gym or outdoors,” Ronaldo says. “Try and add it to every workout you do.”
Workouts are not restricted to the time Ronaldo spent at training facilities, though. “Fit in exercise wherever you can,” he adds.
“You can do an abs workout in your bedroom when you wake up in the morning or before you go to bed. If you get into a routine then it makes it easier as it will become a habit.”
“During pre-season, when we’re all returning from time off, our work tends to be intense. We may have more than one training session in a single day, plus strength and conditioning workouts,” explains the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
“Mix it up,” says Cristiano Ronaldo. In the gym, Ronaldo alternates between heavy cardio and extensive weight training activities.
Ronaldo’d daily workout schedule is as follows:
- Daily practice for 3-4 hours assuring a low-fat level (less than 10 percent)
- Cardio exercises including several running sessions, each lasting for 25-30 minutes.
- Short-period exercises such as high intensity sprinting drills.
- Technical drills for improving ball control
A sample week:
- Monday: Cardio circut featuring squats, jumps and lunges
- Tuesday: Rest day
- Wednesday: Weights and cardio featuring bodyweight movements such as pushups and pull-ups
- Thursday: Power cleans and sprints
- Friday: Leg day with a focus on stability and abs
- Saturday: Rest
- Sunday: Cardio featuring sprints and skipping
Cristiano Ronaldo sample workout
This workout combines strength training (consisting of 5 supersets and a total of 10 different exercises) with a cardio-heavy HIIT session.
Superset 1: bench press (3 sets of 12) and squats (3 sets of 12).
Superset 2: incline bench press (3 sets of 12) and barbell walking lunges (3 sets of 12),
Superset 3: dumbbell chest flys (3 sets of 12) and cable pushdowns (3 sets of 12)
Superset 4: leg extensions (3 sets of 12) and hamstring curls (3 sets of 12).
Superset 5: roped cable crunches (3 sets of 12) and knee raises (3 sets of 15)
Ronaldo hits the pool regularly and engages in hydrotherapy, according to the Daily Mail. Cristiano reportedly swims at home, following games or with his son Cristiano Jnr, before working on hot-cold contrast hydrotherapy.
The theory behind contrast water therapy is that the hot baths promote blood flow through the body, called vasodilation, and to the limbs, while the cold water then vasoconstricts the blood vessels, sending blood back to the core. Athletes promote muscle regeneration through blood flow using the contrast process.
Given Ronaldo’s skills and fitness on land, it’s surprising that his engine is built in the water. However the benefits of a swimming and hydrotherapy are extremely transferable across sports, and go a long way to explaining Ronaldo’s excellent bill of injury free good health. The low impact, cardiovascular full body workout builds lean muscle, increase aerobic capacity, and if you’re lucky enough to have easy access to a pool, can be done at any time.
Cristiano Ronaldo sample hydrotherapy workout
400 metre warm up, mixing up your strokes
10 x 50 metres with 30 seconds rest between each effort at 75% effort
4 x laps of breath work, breathing every 3 strokes, then 5, then 7, then 9. Repeat this pattern for the 4 laps
1 x lap sprint
3 x laps recovery directly following the sprint
Cool down with 100m, alternating laps with backstroke and freestyle
Much has been written about Ronaldo’s incredible post-match rituals. The 36-year-old has a strong focus on his physical and mental wellbeing, with a specific focus on recovery – something that he says is key to sustaining excellence and extending his prime.
“It’s consistency and hard work with the use of all the ingredients that are available to me, like the Theragun for example, that helps keep my body in the best shape,” he explains to us over email. “It’s critical to work hard and at the same time to recover well. Not just the day after a match, but during the weeks, the months, and the years later.”
“Longevity is the most important thing, and as you can see my longevity is great. I’m 36 years old and I can still compete with the best players and can still maintain the shape I was in when I was 20 years old. It’s not easy, but consistency takes you to perfection.”
Perfection is exactly right – the five-time Ballon d’Or has scored 22 goals in 27 games, he’s reported to have 7% of body fat, an astounding 50% muscle mass, and ultimately a physique that literally is comparable to a 20-year old.
It’s also been reported that Ronaldo incorporates up to five small rests of 90 minutes into his daily routine, helping him stay energised and well-rested.
“In football you have basic points – from training well to eating properly to drinking properly and so on – but recovery for me and from my point of view is the most important thing,” says Ronaldo.
Nikolina is the new web-obsessed Digital Editor at Men's and Women's Health, responsible for all things social media and .com. A lover of boxing, she has a mean punch inside and out of the ring. She was previously a Digital Editor at GQ and Vogue magazine.
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