How to be better on the pitch, or just look good in shorts
Many of us have spent hours on Football Manager scouring obscure leagues for the next superstar. But because the latest instalment allows you to tailor your virtual players’ individual training, we asked the boffins behind Football Manager 2015 and their sports scientists at Watford FC to find out how pro players keep in shape in the gym and how this can make you a better player in real life.
Lateral Squat (3x6 each side)
Stand side-on with your feet just wider than your shoulders, with a Versapulley or tight resistance band attached around your waist with a belt. Squat down and drive back up. As you extend, get a partner to throw a ball towards your hands. Throw the ball back and return to the start position.
Benefit: Matches the push off into a dive. Receiving a ball strengthens the shoulders and catching action of a goalkeeper
TRX Plank Variation (3x10)
Start in the plank position with forearms in the TRX (see above). Keep your back flat and core activated. Fully extend one arm while keeping the body still and with good posture. Alternate arms.
Benefit: Strengthens core and coordination of the upper body
Dumbbell Bosu Lunge (3x10)
Hold your chosen weight with both hands and pull towards your chest. Now lunge on to a Bosu ensuring your knee stays behind your toe and you keep your upper torso upright. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, push off the Bosu with your front foot and work your way back to the starting position. Repeat with opposite leg. Ensure your weight is going down the centre of your body, with good posture and core contracted.
Benefit: Replicates the lunge sequence when going in for a tackle, while improving leg strength and balance
Anchor your ankles comfortably under an immovable object, or have somebody sit on your heels. Kneel tall with your arms by your sides and imagine a piece of string pulling you upwards from the crown of your head. Look ahead. Lower yourself and then reverse the motion to return to the start.
Benefit: Cuts hamstring injuries
Bench Step-up With Bar (3x10)
After loading an Olympic bar on your upper back/shoulders, place one foot on top of a bench so your knees and hips are both at 90 degrees. Push through the heel/middle of the foot on the bench, while extending the knee and hips simultaneously. Avoid any swinging or forward glide movement – the knee of the push-off leg should not slide forward past the toes. As you drop back into hip and knee flexion, concentrate on pushing the hips posterior, while maintaining a neutral spine.
Benefit: Improves first-step acceleration and top-end speed
Single-leg Romanian Deadlift (3x12)
Assume a single-leg stance. Hold a dumbbell in the opposite hand of the supporting leg. Keep your back straight and torso tight. Look straight ahead with shoulders retracted. Lower upper body by bending at the hip with back straight. Lower dumbbell or slide bar down thigh and shin of standing leg. Push hips back and slightly bend knee during the descent. Swing the free leg back so it stays in line with the torso. Lower upper body until a mild stretch is felt in hamstrings. Return to the starting position.
Benefit: Develops dynamic flexibility in the hamstrings
Sport Interactive’s Football Manager 2015 is on sale now at amazon.co.uk
(Images: Amber; Michael Palmer)