It has taken me four years to realise that I have reached the stage where I am ready to make a return to professional football. I have tried to change my career paths but the highs and lows of being a top flight player are different to any job in the world and I know I’m not ready to give up on my dreams quite just yet.
I was an obsessed athlete before I took up football and came 5th in the national championships at 400m hurdles when I was 16.
I was always one of the fittest players in the team and my stamina was one of my biggest assets. However, at the age of 24 I was forced to stop playing due to chronic cramps in my calves, up to the point where I couldn’t run any more than five minutes without pulling a muscle. I had no choice but to leave the game.
Throughout the 4 years I have been out of professional football there have been a number of times I have tried to return: non league football, speaking to coaches in Dubai, researching world football, etc. But within 2 games of playing in a season my calves and hamstrings would pull. The emotional highs of playing refused to outweigh the downs of injuries and I just got sick of the feeling that I was letting down managers, team mates and myself. This couldn’t continue and I had a persistent desire pushing me to change.
I have approached my return in a completely different way: using the best nutritionists, personal trainers, fellow sportsman and family advice that I could get. I have read every book that is relevant to what I’m trying to achieve, and so the first steps to my comeback were stability and strength. I was given a 12 week body composition Plan by my personal trainer Luke to condition my body, and cure the cramps in my calves and hamstrings. This is the programme that helped make my desires become a reality: to play again.
12 Week Body Composition Plan
4 training days per week, moving to 5 for final phase
weeks 1 to 4 – 3 strength: 1 conditioning
weeks 5 to 8 – 2 strength: 2 conditioning
weeks 8 to 12 – 3 strength: 2 conditioning.
Strength sessions 5 sets of 5.
Tempo 3-2-1-1, rest 90 seconds, weight must increase 5% per week so make sure week one is realistic.
Strength sessions start with 15 minutes ballistic stretching / activation and foam rolling. And finish with 3 sets of plank holds (increasing time)
A: Back squat, straight leg deadlift, dumbell chest press, dumbell bent over row, scapular movement*, walking lunges
B: Rear leg raised split squat, sumo squat, pullovers, upright rows, trap raises* , knee drive step ups
C: Dumbell squats, deadlifts, lat pull down, standing shoulder press, hyperextensions, incline press
Walking lunges with rotation
Kettlebell swings – timed, 40 seconds work, 20 seconds rest x 7
Treadmill sprints: 20 seconds work, 2 mins rest x 10
Box jumps: 10 x 3, 60 seconds rest
Walking lunges with rotation
Barbell complex: Deadlift, bent over row, high pull, alternating lunges, shoulder press, back squat
5 reps per movement without letting go of bar, 2 min rest, repeat 10 times.
Treadmill sprints – 10 seconds work, 40 seconds rest, increasing speed to failure (min 10 repetitions)
Kettlebell circuits, 40 seconds work, 20 seconds rest/change over. Be creative on the movement – just need to work.
Can also swap for punch bag work, or any high intensity full body movements.
2 circuits of 10 minutes