At 5’7 and 148 pounds (67kg), Lionel Messi is quite a slight-looking figure on the face of it.
However, if you ever see him after a game when he has taken his shirt off as he walks off the pitch, it is obvious he does spend some time in the gym.
So how much can Lionel Messi squat?
It is interesting to find out how much time such a technically gifted player spends on the more physical aspects of his game.
So let’s take a closer look.
How Much Can Lionel Messi Squat
Lionel Messi places much more emphasis on speed and movement than weight-based exercises when it comes to his gym work. Based upon a Norwegian study that said professional players could squat twice their body weight, that would put the figure at around 135kg for Lionel Messi.
One of the few good things to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic was it gave us a closer look at the fitness routines of some of football’s biggest names.
In fact, when La Liga went into a self-imposed break in 2020, a number of Barcelona’s players took to social media to give the general public a glimpse at what they were doing at home to stay fit.
Now whilst Lionel Messi’s home gym probably doesn’t quite match up to the facilities he has available at his club, it was still way more comprehensive then 99% of us normal people!
We could see he had a row of treadmills looking out onto his grounds and a spinning machine next to an area that evidently was reserved for core exercises.
Excerpts from Messi’s Instagram page seem to suggest he spent a fair amount of time in lockdown executing lunges to work his leg muscles.
They also confirmed that the majority of work he does in the gym focuses on increasing agility and building speed.
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In fact, many close to Messi have said that his workouts are much more focused on functional movements as opposed to weight training.
So he works through a set of exercises to ensure he can deliver the explosive power and quick change of direction he is known for.
This includes sets of pillar steps, skipping ropes, hurdle hops and acceleration drills.
He does do exercises to sharpen his upper body physique, such as Russian twists, sit-ups and chest presses, but there is a real focus on maintaining his swiftness and quick feet.
Messi also reportedly stretches for an hour every day to keep his muscles loose.
Messi also began working with Italian nutritionist Giuliano Poser in 2014 as he sought to rein in his eating habits (apparently pizza is a big favorite of the Argentinian maestro!).
“What you can put into your body at 18 or 19 years of age is not the same as what you can put in at 27,” said Messi at the time.
Poser encouraged a diet based around five categories: water, olive oil, wholegrains, fresh fruit and fresh vegetable.
Do Footballers Lift Heavy?
There are relatively few studies on how much players lift.
The most widely available was a study of Norwegian First Division players which showed they would average a squat equivalent to twice their body weight, a bench press equal to their body weight and the ability to run a 12-minute two-mile.
Generally though, professional players are discouraged from heavy squatting and leg workouts during the season to lower the risk of injury.
It is in the off-season players will usually up the intensity with higher weight, and higher impact workouts.
During the season players and teams usually have around two or three days in the gym to build upon the strength and endurance work they have built up in the off-season.
This tends to mean low-weight workouts of 8 to 10 reps and probably no more than 90 minutes in the gym at a time.
Is Squatting Good for Footballers?
The University of Sanford carried out an interesting study into how a strength training program based around squats can have a positive effect on football players.
A group of young footballers had a plan devised based around a one-rep max barbell back squat, followed by 5, 10 and 20 sprint tests.
After six weeks all of the players had increased their strength and their sprint performance had improved too.
Benefits of squats include:
- Building stronger muscles around the quadriceps, leg, hamstrings, hip and knee to increase resilience.
- Increasing your explosive speed off of the mark
- Improves flexibility and improves range of motion
- Improves your posture by strengthening your back and leg muscles
- Reduces the likelihood of injuries by maintaining the strenght of supportive tissues
- Improves endurance
- Increases bone strength
How Much Does Ronaldo Deadlift?
According to reports, in an average weight session, Ronaldo lifts 23,000kg, over three times the weight of the largest male elephant!
However, Ronaldo doesn’t do weights as often as you might expect. The rumour is the Portuguese superstar does a lot of weighted pull-ups and push ups, along with sprints, rope jumps and core exercises.
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This was seemingly confirmed by Mick Clegg, who worked as a power development coach at Manchester United between 2000 and 2011.
“You start by building a base of strength. When Ronaldo joined United, he had that. He’d done weights, swimming and used to run up the stairs at football stadiums to get stronger” said Clegg in an interview with FourFourTwo magazine.
“But he never lifted heavy because we wanted him to be lean and quick, not bulky. We always worked with weights relative to his bodyweight. He weighed about 76kg at United and would bench press, squat and deadlift that for sets of seven repetitions.”
Based upon the assumption that most top-level footballers can squat twice their body weight that would mean Lionel Messi could squat around 135kg.
But it seems that Messi places little emphasis on weight-based routines, preferring instead to focus on maintaining his speed and movement.
Whatever workout routine he has honed over the past 20 or so years it works.
The old adage of “don’t fix what isnt’ broken is definitely very true here”!
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