Holidays are over as players get ready for tough weeks of pre-season training

Adam Webster works out with trainer Branford at Intent91 and Cristiano Ronaldo sets the example in his gym
Adam Webster works out with trainer Branford at Intent91 and Cristiano Ronaldo sets the example in his gym

Pre-season used to be a time for getting back into shape.

Now footballers get into shape ready for pre-season.

And that is not just at professional, elite level.

Work is gathering pace around gyms, pitches and running tracks across the country in preparation for the return to training.

Among the holiday snaps from exotic beaches, followers of social media will have seen pictures and clips of players putting in the fitness work.

Cristiano Ronaldo was among those showing off his muscles andwork ethic on Instagrm this week.

Those also putting on the hard yards include Albion defender Adam Webster, who posted six pictures of a sweat-soaked upper body session this week at the Intent91 gym in Worthing, under the supervision of owner and fitness trainer George Branford.

It is not just about being ready for when Graham Potter’s staff start giving out the orders back in Lancing next week.

This time of year also offers a great chance to put in work which cannot be done when there is a match at the end of the week.

Recovery time is, of course, also crucial.

Branford told The Argus: “The club would definitely recommend that they have a good two or three weeks of solid rest.

“But I think the majority of lads will go away on holiday and in the back of their minds they are still thinking ahead to next season and making sure they are on the pace when they go back.

“The top level players will all be getting coaches for the last couple of weeks of their off-season, for sure.

“Truthfully, they don’t do anything on their own! They need it.

“Off-season is a chance to build a bit of strength and a bit of muscle.

“During the season, their volume of work is very much managed around games.

“That is quite restrictive in what they can do.

“They need to be fresh for when they play.

“In the off-season, we can try and get a bit more volume into them.

“Get a bit more strength and power, get the miles in the legs again.

“But we try to avoid too much high-speed running.

“There is not much sprinting going on because they are not trying to peak at this stage.

“They are just trying to get back to a base of fitness.

“Off-season with me now and with other players and other coaches is essentially about trying to do bits they can’t do in the season.

“Work on weaknesses, essentially.”

Instagram followers will have seen information about a recent track session.

In total, Webster covered a carefully monitored 4.2km.

That comprised three lots of 800m, three 400m runs and then three times 200m.

There were appropriate rest periods between each run to ensure the heart rate was just right.

Details of the session were posted on Instagram, with Webster’s approval, and offered some insight into what players across the board, not just the Albion defender, are putting in during what used to be the final precious weeks of holiday time.

Branford said: “The runs are all done to a time we are trying to stick to.

“We aren’t trying to do it quicker than what’s prescribed.

“We are not trying to peak at this stage.

“Players will be doing three or four run sessions per week.

“Also strength work - possibly two lower body workouts per week.

“And some upper body and prehab work.”

Much of the work at this time of the year also has injury prevention in mind.

Webster did a double session on Monday – track, then gym – and will repeat that today. There was some work involving a football on Tuesday, Wednesday was a rest day and he was back on the track yesterday.

Again, he is not a special case. Lots of players are doing this work – to varying degrees.

Branford said: “They take it very seriously.

“Adam is a true professional in what he does.

“Everything he does is around complementing his career.


“He has had his holidays now so he’s back, he’s doing all the right things with his nutrition, he’s doing all the right things with his training.

“That is where he feels best mentally, as much as anything.

“Preparation is key. But some players will do very little and turn up at pre-season and you wouldn’t notice.”

Instagram followers might recall a video from last summer of Branford and Webster doing a track session in driving rain.

With them were fellow West Sussex boys Connor Chaplin, who now plays for Ipswich, and Connor Cody, of Chichester City.

The quest for fitness ahead of pre-season is not limited to the pros.

Branford said: “Some non-league players work harder than some Premier League players.

“If you’re playing non-league and you go back for pre-season, the biggest way you can stand out is being at the front in the running.

“You can be the strongest and the fittest guy in the squad.

“You can bet your bottom dollar there’s a lot of other lads who haven’t been doing anything in the summer.

“So a lot of non-league players are investing in coaching in the summer as well.”