You are on page 1of 11


Train Like a German Soccer Star -


Train Like a German Soccer Star
July 16, 2014 12:01 am
Phys Ed

Gretchen Reynolds on the science of fitness.

In the stirring World Cup final on Sunday between the national men’s
soccer teams from Germany and Argentina, an American played a role on
the field in Rio de Janeiro despite the United States team’s having been
eliminated. Sitting and occasionally pacing tensely along the German
sideline was Mark Verstegen, the team’s trainer.
Mr. Verstegen, the founder and president of EXOS, a Phoenix-based
company that trains professional and recreational athletes and corporate
executives, was appointed in 2004 by Jurgen Klinsmann, then the coach of
the German team and now the United States coach. He was brought in to
improve the players’ fitness, agility, nutrition and resilience. At the time,
the Germans were at a low ebb by their high standards, having not won a
World Cup since 1990 or a European championship since 1996. Mr.


fitness and recovery gear. a few days earlier.000. treatment tables and so on. Q. What would a typical World Cup training session in that facility look like? A. To learn more about how he trained the German team and how the rest of us might adapt some of their routines at home.or 5. in extra time after having routed the host Brazilian squad. “They wondered what Americans could possibly teach” the German squad. 7-1. What were the logistics of training the German team at the World Cup. defeating Argentina. Q.blogs. It’s a 4.7/17/2014 Train Like a German Soccer Star .” was published in January. he said. . It holds the latest cardiovascular machines. Then the Germans advanced to the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup.000-square foot structure that we erect adjacent to the pitch.) What follows are excerpts from our conversations. performing better than expected. Verstegen in the days leading to and just after Germany’s title 2/11 .NYTimes.I spoke and emailed with Mr. 1-0. the team won this year’s edition. Verstegen’s training methods now. There aren’t many skeptics about Mr. given that the team was traveling from city to city? A. http://well. We have a pretty amazing mobile training camp. news media and even some players. and on Verstegen said his appointment was met with widespread incredulity among German fans. weights. “Every Day is Game Day. (His book.

we correct things right away. but their physical training is more focused and individualized. We constantly assess players’ movement patterns. How different are these sessions from the training that the German team did before you arrived? A. Precision is very important. There was more emphasis then on the technical and tactical elements. People don’t laugh about it now.blogs. Q. then what? A. for instance. with lots of long It would depend on how close we were to the next game. We were ridiculed in 2004 when we had players exercise that way. The physical training was very general. It’s like running an antivirus program on a computer. You want to get rid of the http://well. That’s where you strap a band across the thighs or ankles and walk sideways. We might have the players do things like a T-Hip rotation exercise at one station and a miniband lateral walk at another. running with the parachute or the Bullet belt [a harness worn by the player and attached to a long rope held by a coach]. After a session in the facility. drop squats. lots of drills. there’d be technical and tactical work with the ball. Q. Now the players still spend lots of time working on technique and tactics.nytimes. But hip stability is essential for soccer performance and injury mitigation. but we’d often divide the structure into four stations. with a different exercise at each station. If they’re slightly off in their movements on any particular day. The team goes onto the field and does drills. After that. a mini-circuit.7/17/2014 Train Like a German Soccer Star .com/2014/07/16/train-like-a-german-soccer-star/?rref=health 3/11 .NYTimes. working on agility and acceleration and building power. We might have them do lateral and cross sprints. watching as they perform every exercise.

That translates to about three-quarters of a player more on the pitch. movements. we know he’s improving. Q. I can give you precise numbers on that. We repeat certain 4/11 .6 miles. German players ran 7. when they stop and start. even if we aren’t soccer players? http://well. Q.7/17/2014 Train Like a German Soccer Star .5 kilometers. we monitor him to make sure that’s he’s not becoming overly fatigued or ill. Just how fit is the German team? junk and keep the movements precise. How can you tell how much players are running? A. more as a team than did the French side. The German players covered 113. or about 4. Q. We track every player’s every heartbeat and keep and compare data from practice to practice and game to game. or about 71 miles. Only the Americans ran more as a team. In the quarterfinal round against France. Any suggestions on which aspects of the German team’s training program those of us at home might usefully incorporate into our exercise routines.8 kilometers.nytimes. All of the players wear monitors in their cleats that track their mileage.NYTimes. and if someone is performing the same drill with a lower heart rate or faster speed. If he’s slower or his heart rate stays elevated. and all sorts of additional data. then get him to push himself a bit more. on average as a team per game in the group phase. where they are on the field.

movement patterns and recovery. The broad elements of the training program apply to anyone. Concentrate on your mind-set. The point is that the body and the brain respond positively to having demands put on them. There are no givens in sports. Verstegen said.nytimes. do a few push-ups or yoga poses. and your subsequent workouts will be more productive. We had put in 10 focused years of attention to details. These exercises require a foam roller and resistance band.NYTimes. At the other end of the day. They are best performed in the order listed. nutrition. so for many of us. Utter elation. which are available at many gyms or can be purchased at sporting goods stores. it was utter joy. we all should ease into exercise with an orchestrated warm-up. But persevere.7/17/2014 Train Like a German Soccer Star . That’s really the key to fitness. but do something that pushes you a bit. http://well. You don’t have to be doing split squats with kettle bells. Kick the electronics out of the bedroom. Q. which is extremely important and often overlooked. they “might be a workout in itself at first. get plenty of sleep. You’ll be more receptive to activity throughout the day.” he said. when you first wake up. On a practical level. Roll Your Glutes Like Bastian Schweinsteiger To lessen the chance of injury and improve 5/11 . and the moves will become easier. These eight exercises approximate a typical warm-up for the German national soccer team. Are you happy with the outcome of that last World Cup game? A.blogs. anything that gets your body and mind primed for activity. Then try to do whatever exercise you do a bit better every day. he A. but once that whistle blew. Mr.

How: Settle your hip sideways on a foam roller.NYTimes. Goal: Roll each side. focusing on the gluteus muscles in the Foam Roll — Glutes Benefits: Rolls away pain and tightness in your power muscles.7/17/2014 Train Like a German Soccer Star .nytimes. pausing for 30 seconds on tight spots.blogs. Foam Roll — Quadriceps 6/11 . Roll back and forth.

Keeping your legs shoulder-width apart. Mini Band — Lateral Bent Leg Walk Benefits: Activates your glute muscles and primes your hips for activity. facing the floor.7/17/2014 Train Like a German Soccer Star . How: Make like a 7/11 .NYTimes. Goal: Roll each side. How: Encircle your upper thighs with a resistance band. Goal: 1 set of 8 steps on each side. pausing for 30 seconds on tight spots. and the roller beneath the upper thigh of the outstretched leg. with one leg straight and the other bent to the side. Inverted Hamstring Stretch Benefits: Release quadriceps tightness and reduce your risk for injury. Roll back and forth.nytimes.blogs. march purposefully from side to side. elbows on the ground.

nytimes. How: Like a bobbing bird toy. Return to the upright position as gracefully as possible.7/17/2014 Train Like a German Soccer Star . arms outstretched and lean forward until you are parallel with the 8/11 Benefits: Improves balance and reduces your risk of pulling a hamstring. Goal: 1 set of 4 reps on each side Lateral Lunge to Drop Lunge http://well. balance on one leg.

really. How: Watch this.blogs. Goal: 1 set of 4 reps on each side. and hamstrings. lower your entire body. Several times. gluteus muscles. then straighten and swing the outstretched leg back until it is crossed behind you. Elbow to Instep — With Rotation Benefits: Stretches your groin. stretch one leg to the side while keeping the other Benefits: Stretches the hip and thigh muscles that tighten from cutting and planting. But.7/17/2014 Train Like a German Soccer Star . drop into a side lunge. straighten your pelvis. hip 9/11 .nytimes. Pillar Skip http://well. How: Standing upright. watch her. Reverse Lunge. Goal: 1 set of 4 reps on each side.NYTimes.

3 Hurdle Drill to Sprint Benefits: Improves agility and acceleration to win the http://well. knees high and arms swinging.7/17/2014 Train Like a German Soccer Star .com/2014/07/16/train-like-a-german-soccer-star/?rref=health 10/11 . Goal: 2 sets of 10 yards.NYTimes. chin Benefits: Improves dynamic hip flexibility for greater speed on the field.blogs.nytimes. keeping your back straight. How: Skip.

spaced a foot or so apart (small hurdles.blogs. sprint to the far 11/11 . How: Set up three low obstacles. if available. Skip sideways rapidly and nimbly over each obstacle.nytimes. © 2014 The New York Times Company http://well.NYTimes. spine up). or perhaps hardback books.7/17/2014 Train Like a German Soccer Star .com ball. skip back. Goal: 2 sets of 3.