The U.S. may not have the best team at this summer’s World Cup, but they just might be the fittest By Shawn Donnelly

Photos By Michael Darter


S. Donovan may be the fittest of them 141 . U. and he looks forward to proving it on the sport’s biggest stage this June. explodes into numerous 10–40-yard sprints and changes speed or direction every five seconds as he fights for the ball. 2006OLYMPIA. soccer star Landon Donovan runs more than 6 miles.Training Ready for Some Football In an average 90-minute game. periodically leaps 2 feet in the air for headballs. In a game of fitness freaks.

grab. plus a few extra ticks at the end of each half. To Americans it’s soccer. “I feel like in every game we play. And that’s only half the challenge: Players must leap 2 feet in the air to win headballs. ❡ It’s kind of a big deal. is either hell on earth or what the rest of the world calls football.S. constant. Thirty billion viewers will tune in for the games on TV. of all the soccer teams in all the world. once you’re subbed out. there’s some- thing happening called the FIFA World Cup. Recent studies using global positioning systems showed that the average player in a high-level soccer match runs about 6 miles. and if you get really winded. A soccer player changes speed or direction every five seconds. a soccer tournament between 32 countries that takes place just once every four years. you’re out of luck. plus a goalkeeper. these players do it for 90 minutes. they’ll try to outrun the world. you can’t return. Which is why it’s all the more impressive that. slide…and. Like we said. including 1 billion to watch the final on July 9. hamstrings strain. take a moment to consider the ground these guys cover. And all the guys competing — but especially the ones wearing red. they must lunge. east and west of here will shut down for a month to live and die with their national team’s every touch of the ball. Three million people will cram into 12 colossal stadiums to witness the spectacle in person. because there are no timeouts. we’re the fitter team. they say things like this: “I find that interval training is more conducive to a gamelike condition than going out for a 12or 13-mile run…but I do that. And entire cities south. as in basketball. hip flexors ache. freakishly fit. What you’re imagining.” For another thing. because just like in baseball. Now imagine that court is a grass grid the size of a football field. How do we know? For starters. midfielder Landon Donovan. shield. depending on your outlook. too. Now imagine instead of running up and down this field for 40 or even 48 minutes. white and blue — are nothing if not freakishly fit. stretch. they must explode forward in dozens of 10–40yard bursts. kick. At left: Fitness Coach Barrieu 6 And although we’ve expanded the field exponentially. let’s only double the number of players from five to 10 per side. ever-changing movement. only a little wider. pull. This month in Germany. WHEN YOU’RE TALKING about the fitness 142 MUSCLE & FITNESS July 2006 . and it’s one of the most physically demanding team sports known to man. In other words. with midfielders traveling much farther. >> Average miles logged per game by a soccer player.This month in Germany.”says U. oh yeah. the one from America just might run longer and harder than anybody. push. And hardly any substitutions. IMAGINE A BASKETBALL game in which both teams are picking up full-court. Quads burn. the only one allowed to use his hands to keep the ball out of a 24x8-foot goal. Oh.

Landon Donovan position: Midfielder Number: 10 Birthdate: March 4. 158 pounds MLS team: Los Angeles Galaxy PHOTOGRA pHER’ S NAME 143 . California Residence: Manhattan Beach. California Specs: 5'8". 1982 hometown: Redlands.

In another test. players must fight to stay on pace before eventually dropping to the turf in exhaustion. Raised in Paris. The same goes in the weight room.S. practice site in Carson. As the time between beeps shortens.S. a lot of standing. Barrieu was a fitness adviser for three European soccer clubs before furthering his studies at the University of Virginia. “We do a lot of pushpressing. Frankie Hejduk (top left) stretches while Eddie Johnson (above) If you get winded.S. “I looked around and kind of picked what I thought was beneficial from each sport. It’s always dumbbells. but it doesn’t drag. the Star Drill. you have to talk about Froggy. the place where U. These guys have to keep their balance on the field.” says Barrieau. and I came up with one philosophy. players have 10 seconds to sprint from the center of the field to eight different points and back. team for that summer’s World Cup in South Korea/Japan.” Leg swings are the easy part.S. During drills like these. 144 MUSCLE & FITNESS July 2006 .S. repeating this eightpointed “star” four times. At a typical training session. it’s usually over in 25 minutes. To prepare for this year’s World Cup. never machines. keeping up with a series of beeps blasted from a boombox.S. So I have these guys doing leg swings on a daily basis. head coach Bruce Arena had built a soccer dynasty. team’s French-accented fitness coach. California. multijoint movements.” Not only did Barrieu’s philosophy work. such as the Beep Test. Barrieu was kept around for good.level of the U. “The reason you have groin injuries is a lack of flexibility. you’re out of luck.” he puts them through grueling cardio routines. in which players must dash back and forth across the field. To develop what Barrieu terms “aerobic power. Arena asked Barrieu to prep the U. Although assigned to work with the soccer team at UVa. taking what he learned from these sports and applying them back to soccer. because there are no timeouts and few substitutions tions in Asia by beating Portugal and Mexico and reaching the quarterfinals. men’s soccer team. “Our guys have a lot of groin injuries. it’s not unusual to see the U. but it worked at UVa. players wear heart monitors so Barrieu can gauge whether each is reaching his personal anaerobic threshold. Barrieu began helping out with the more American games like basketball and football. so I think it should be the same in the weight room. Barrieu has been working with the team since January. a sport not traditionally synonymous with weight training. the U. winning five national championships. Exertion is ultra-intense.” says Barrieu. In 2002. That’s the nickname for Pierre Barrieu. players resembling the Rockettes as they perform dozens of high leg kicks without the ball. After the Americans exceeded nearly everyone’s expecta- Training ground At the U.

2006olympia. Russian Twist Sit with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent around 90 degrees. Bend your knees 90 degrees. Push-Press High Pull Bench Press Bent-Over Lateral Raise Plyometric Box Jump Standing Barbell Curl Lateral Lunge Jump Rope Seated Cable Row Jump Rope Various core exercises similar to Day 1 4 4 5 4 2 3 1 4 minutes 3 4 minutes 6 6 5 6 5 10 8 8 Exercise-Ball Bird Dog Same as the Bird Dog exercise. Keep your balance as a partner kicks the ball. Shoelace (or Straight-Leg Crunch) Lie faceup on the floor with your legs perpendicular to the floor. Start off with light kicks and work up to harder kicks. It almost ends up being an abbreviated crunch. Return and raise the opposite arm and leg. Extend your legs out in front of you and bring them back in one continuous “scooping” motion. Catch it and. then slowly raise and straighten one leg behind you while slowly lifting and extending the opposite arm in front of you. because your chest is naturally going to rise off the floor. one minute on just your left. while keeping your balance. Day 3 EXercise Sets Reps Exercise-Ball Kick Sit on the ball similar to the previous exercise. move the ball from one side of your body to the other by twisting your torso. then walk your feet forward and lean back till your back is about 45 degrees to the floor. then relax. Hold each contraction for five seconds. Scoop Sit on the edge of a bench and lie back to form a 30-degree angle with the bench. Holding a 25-pound medicine ball close to your torso. Various core exercises similar to Day 1 *One minute on just your right leg. That’s one rep. Reverse direction and do eight more. Cycle your feet above your pelvis. Bird Dog Get on your hands and knees on the floor.Workout Day 1 EXercise World Cup Partner Hamstring Lie faceup on the floor with one leg 145 . toss it back. (Yes. Have a partner toss a medicine ball to you. except you lie atop the ball on your chest and your feet are on the floor. make circles in the air with your feet. Clean and Jerk Dumbbell Push-Up Bent-Over Lateral Raise Dumbbell Curl Shrugs into Lateral Raise Bent-Over Row Back Extension Partner Hamstring Bicycle Pelvic Tilt Shoelace Bird Dog Russian Twist Scoop Circle V-Up Exercise-Ball Crunch Exercise-Ball Balance Exercise-Ball Kick Exercise-Ball Bird Dog 4 4 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 6 20 6 10 6 8 20 6 60 10 30 20 25 8 8 20 50 10 10 20 Pelvic Tilt Lie faceup on the floor and tilt your pelvis to push your lower back into the floor. That’s one rep. Have a partner grasp your heel and provide resistance as you try to pull your leg down by contracting your hamstrings. Crunch up with your arms extended to touch your shoelaces with your fingertips. and one minute alternating right and left. One revolution is one rep.S. Both sides equals one rep. one minute on both. Exercise-Ball Balance Sit atop an exercise ball.) One full Sets Reps revolution is one rep. keeping your torso stable. Want a killer core routine? Do this workout used by the U. balance yourself with legs extended and arms near your sides. Day 2 EXercise Sets Reps Power Clean Bench Press Barbell Step-Up + Hop Bent-Over Row Glute-Ham Raise Pull-Up Squat Jump Jump Rope 6 6 3 3 2 3 1 4 minutes* 3 4 4 8 8 6 6 Circle Lie faceup on the bench with your legs extended. these are the old-school ones you’re thinking of. Keep your head stable by contracting your neck muscles. Keeping your legs together. men’s national team Bicycle Lie faceup on the floor with your hands under your hips.

the versatile 6'3" midfielder packs a powerful shot with either foot and uses his upper-body strength to brush opponents aside. without getting top-heavy. defender Eddie Pope. One of the world’s leading young talents. I’ll feel myself getting bumped around out there. LAUR Enc E GR iffiT HS/GET TY IMA GES SpORT. he could soon make the leap to one of Europe’s best clubs. Donovan returned to the States to captain the Los Angeles Galaxy to his third MLS title. I can hold people off a lot easier. Ballack found the net 29 times in his first 60 matches for his country.S. then in 2005. former players can only watch with envy.” Donovan fondly remembers his fitness level of four years ago. Just 20 years old. “I can tell a huge difference. “If I don’t lift. (Seven!) Now 24. his crashing. with the heart monitor. Arena. A LEXAnD ER HAS SEnSTEin/B OnGAR TS. Italy in 2004) and lines.” says Marcelo Balboa. older opponents. The England and Manchester United forward is only 5'10". but they’re okay to go the next day. NEW PRES S/STRinGER/GET TY IMAGES Sp OR T Adriano. He’s not a burner. The brawny left-footer was signed professionally at age 7.S. Sweden . unhappy with his limited playing time during a four-month cup of coffee at German club Bayer Leverkusen. “Landon. Germany Oguchi Onyewu.” Meanwhile.” says Arena. Captain for host country Germany.” says Barrieu. but he’s got a very good first 20 yards. Back in the old days.“With Pierre. MART in ROSE/B OnGART S. 170 pounds. when he’s strong and fit. Asked to explain scratches on his face after a game.Barrieu leads the players through fastpaced 45-minute workouts. but he plays like he’s the size of Jerome Bettis. speedy defender. “I felt like a WORLD CLASS MUSCLE Here are five players to watch out for at this summer’s World Cup who eXude power and strength in the MUSCLE & FITNESS mold With the ball at his feet. With his powerful neck muscles making him a great ball-header. USA Wayne Rooney. Brazil Michael Ballack. At 6'4". Rooney has been nicknamed the white Pelé. 158 pounds. “He’s explosive. “One of our goals this time around is to get him where he was in 2002. points to Donovan as one guy who greatly benefited from weights before the last World Cup. “With the training they do now. And you can see these guys — they’re dead. he’s a true physical specimen by any standard.” 146 MUSCLE & FITNESS July 2006 FROM LEf T: ANTONIO S CORZA /AFP. The players have bought in. But if I’ve lifted. the better I am as a player. defender and now a commentator for ESPN. he could be called tiny. the Maryland native turns into an aerial weapon on corner kicks and other set pieces. everything’s calculated with the stopwatch.” says U. 220 pounds. he’s no stranger to the gym. usually quick to downplay the importance of lifting. He’s fast. A strong.” NO ONE SYMBOLIZES the Americans’ commitment to fitness — or their brand of soccer in general — more than the 24-year-old Donovan. a lot of us older guys might have been able to play a year or two more. The bigger my upper body is. he told a reporter. Already a star for his pro team in Belgium. At 5'8". dashing style -and the fact he plays for soccer giant Brazil -. he constantly outmuscles bigger. 195-pound forward often resembles a runaway train. feels real good about his game. emphasizing the core (see “World Cup Workout”) and conditioning the upper body with Olympic-style lifts and dumbbell bench presses off exercise balls.makes Adriano a favorite to be tournament scoring leader. this 6'2". “You’ll have to ask your wife.” And his teams win. “He’s got the complete package. What’s more. One of the world’s most lethal headers of the ball. yet on the field he’s anything but. the stylish 6'4" forward delivers both incredible goals (like his heel shot vs. Donovan led the San Jose Earthquakes to Major League Soccer titles in 2001 and 2003. a for- mer U. you’d wake up the next day and you’d be dead. scoring 15 goals. England Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Dead.


And I just felt like I could run through anybody. consider yourself warned.” he says. Italy (June 17) and Ghana (June 22) — teams recently ranked by FIFA as No. World Cup winners in 1998.S. the U.”says Hejduk.” says Donovan. run. lost 1–0 to Germany.machine. those same rankings tabbed the U. team) comes after impressive wins in World Cup tune-up matches against Norway (5–0). Japan (3–2) and Poland (1–0). they pressure the ball at all times. fourth. How. respectively. They have more experienced players and players of a better pedigree. M&F + For more info. “I was strong. defender and the reigning Beep Test champion. 60 minutes. they play together. the better I am as a player” — Eddie Pope do you explain their success? They work hard. The rating (the best ever for a U. they run. England and even France. a team Donovan contends was beyond fatigued by the end. I was fast. ahead of Mexico. built out of necessity. without getting top-heavy. go to 148 MUSCLE & FITNESS July 2006 .” Brazil.“We’re going to have to be fit to have a chance in Germany. It’s a strategy. with games against the Czech Republic (June 12). Despite the Americans’ lofty status.S. run. can the U. fitness-wise. players compete in a game of soccer-tennis “The bigger my upper body is. The Americans drew perhaps the Cup’s toughest opening round. we outwork teams.S. Spain. do more than just give the rest of the world a good scare? Maybe. I think we’d prove to not only all of our critics but also to the world that we’re a team to be reckoned with.S. and they use their fitness as a weapon: The Americans mount strong counterattacks.” He and his teammates almost did.S. You know. and part of that is having a fitness level to sustain what we’re trying to do over 90 minutes. and they turn their wing defenders into offensive threats down the line. then. 14 and 50 in the world. I was fit. And if we can advance out of that group and go further. One win away from the final four in Asia.” he says. “We’re not going to match up to the likes of the Czech Republic and Italy man for man. Of course. “I think the main thing with our team is fitness. so we have to be a better team. says Arena. but first they’ll have to fight to make it out of their own group.” Frankie Hejduk. few would claim they possess even one player in the world’s top 100.” The question this time around is. 2. a U.S.“We’re blue collar. “We were far superior. takes the case for conditioning one step further. SLAM! U. “They had clearly hit the wall after about 50. In short.