Chelsea players are doing more than keepy-uppy with toilet paper rolls and Instaworthy sessions on the bike. Some other clubs provide insight into how the Blues may be staying in shape.
Football clubs and content-starved media outlets are no doubt happy to see players share clips of their home workouts on social media. But like most else on social media it only tells part of the story. Chelsea fans have now seen Reece James on a stationary bike, Ruben Loftus-Cheek showing off some deft footwork (sans ball, though) and Christian Pulisic reminding us why Pennsylvanians should not be on TikTok.
While we don’t know much detail about what the Blues are doing, the fitness and conditioning coaches at Crystal Palace, Bristol City and Grimsby Town talked about how their players are staying in shape during the shutdown. Since the first two of those clubs have plenty of ex-Blues – Gary Cahill, Tomas Kalas, Jay Dasilva and Kasey Palmer – we can at least get an idea of how the Blues are ensuring they don’t waddle back to Cobham looking like Eden Hazard in early August.
Scott Guyett, the head of sports science at Crystal Palace, told Training Ground Guru that many players already have treadmills and gyms in their home. Before locking the doors to the training facility, Palace players were allowed to come in and grab a few “resistance bands, barbells, dumbbells, medicine balls, boxes, hurdles, hex bars, even exercise bikes.”
Things sounded a bit less organized at Bristol City, according to head of fitness and conditioning Patrick Orme: “There was a bit of a siege on the gym… there’s definitely not much equipment left in there at the moment!”
But, he adds, that just shows how professional the players are in their dedication to stay match ready even when they don’t know when that next match will be.
Orme has the Robins doing running workouts with intervals ranging from 30 second to four minutes, to help maintain their anaerobic capacity and aerobic foundation, respectively. Crystal Palace’s Guyett noted that it’s very difficult even for the most motivated players to reach the same volumes and intensities on their own, away from a pitch, that they would at the training ground.
Grimsby Town’s academy players have a similar program, with two long runs of 45-60 minutes each week and three days of shorter, more intense work that has them change directions and do other movements as they would in a game.
Like many recreational runners, all three teams use Strava to track their runs and let the coaches see their training data. The app also provides a way for the athletes to compete with each other: everybody knows what everybody else in the group is doing, so the players check the leaderboards almost as much as the coaches.
Sadly, no Chelsea coaches were quoted in the article (we have it on good authority that they did not respond to requests for comment).
The best we can do is assume that, aside from some specific variations based on the coaches’ philosophies, Chelsea’s shutdown workouts look a lot like those at Crystal Palace or Bristol City. As the fitness coaches from those clubs emphasized, simplicity is the key. Without the coaches present to make sure the players knew what they were doing and why, and that they did everything correctly, the coaches kept things as simple as possible.
“If we make it too complicated, then they’re more likely to lose interest and either do their own thing or do nothing at all.”
If that happened they’d come back to training some time next month looking like they were only taking easy spins on the bike and going viral with their toilet tekkers.