FC Pune City might have encountered rocky seas during the first three seasons of the Indian Super League (ISL), but things look a little more sunny this year as they stand at third on the table with 2 wins and 2 losses in 4 matches. They’ve recruited last year’s golden boot winner Marcelo ‘Marcelinho’ Leite Pereira while the tournament’s first-ever player draft has also seen them acquire the services of proven names across all thirds of the pitch.

The players also looked in great shape when we sat down with them ahead of the season kick-off. We spoke to Marcelinho, Marcos Tebar, Adil Ahmed Khan and Kamaljit Singh to get behind the scenes of the training that goes into readying a fit professional athlete for India’s premier football competition.

Marcelinho (Forward)

Fitness Mantra

I like to be fit, I love jogging and make sure I am consistent in my training and workout during both on- and off-season. I prefer running on the beach sand as it helps strengthen my legs with a combination of gym. The whole idea is to make sure that I am fit and ready to play whenever needed. 

Favourite workout 

I like to strengthen my back, arms, triceps and shoulders (football doesn’t need much of chest and biceps according to me). But I make sure that I concentrate on my legs workout with squats exercises and fit ball and not gym machines. I believe more in body balancing, cross fit, functional training exercises than weight trainings. I also like jump exercises at box, as a striker I also concentrate on my speed so I do some sprint and running exercise too.

Regime  

As a footballer, I try to work on my arms, shoulders, triceps, back and legs in the same day with max 45 seconds exercises for quick and intense workouts. I workout for every muscle for minimum once a week during the league or competitions and during off-season, I try to do the twice-a-week combination with running on the beach or normal run and some gym workout to keep my body balanced. 

Avoiding injuries

I keep myself injury free with core muscle workout, fit ball and intensity training with the team or by myself. Balancing your diet, workout and the game — I organise my routine in a way that helps me keep injuries away.  

Diet 

Breakfast is the most important thing for me, I never skip having a good breakfast. My breakfast includes fruits to start with followed by milk and corn flakes and bread. My lunch includes pasta and tea or coffee. Dinner includes chicken or any meat with rice. On weekend I eat normal stuff like pizza, but most importantly I never drink any aerated drinks or soda to avoid injuries and a good sleep eight hours to this works wonders for me. 

Fitness advice 

Work hard, try to understand your body, exactly what keeps you healthy and strong with good exercises. Having conversations and experiences with a professional coach goes a long way too.

Adil Ahmed Khan (Midfielder)

Fitness Mantra

I try to maintain my diet, eat clean, spend time in the gym, swim and play indoor games.

Favourite workout 

I enjoy training my lower body, which I do twice a week. I divide my schedule into two parts — one day I do free weight workouts like squats, lunges, deadlifts etc and the second day I do machine exercises like leg extensions, leg curls, leg press etc. 

Regime

During off-season, I adopt the BFS (bigger, faster, stronger) method of training. I work everyday in the gym with heavy weights to build muscles and grow big. Cardio sessions, speed, endurance and agility training comprise the F part of the method. Lastly, the S includes bodyweight exercises and muscle strengthening. When the season is going on, I concentrate on my core.  

Avoiding injuries

Increase the strength of your muscles and increase balance. If your body balance is good, you stay away from all the bad injuries. Staying flexible and hydrated also helps a lot.

Diet 

During off season, we don’t burn calories much, so my diet is rich in proteins – steamed veggies, supplements etc. But when we’re with the team, I maximise my carbs. 

Fitness advice 

Discipline is important. If you want to become a professional athlete, eat clean, gym hard and listen to your instructors. 

Marcos Tebar (Midfielder)

Fitness Mantra 

I keep myself fit to play by maintaining a good co-relation between the food I eat and sport I play. 

Favourite workout 

The core muscles links the upper body with lower body. Many leg injuries come from weak core muscles. I do different kind of variations in plank positions and sometimes I use a wheel to do that.

Regime 

I always try to gym twice a week, about 45 mins everyday. My routine is three series of 10 reps of three different muscles — two upper body and one lower body in a row with no rest between exercises and two minutes rest between the series. I do that three times, changing the muscle groups. Chest-shoulders-quads, chest-shoulders-hamstrings, biceps-triceps-calves. At the end of the gym session, I concentrate on core session for about 10 mins.

Avoiding injuries 

Eating good, resting well enough is necessary for the body to recover. Besides exercising in gym for prevention and building strength. Before training, warming up is very important. Worst injuries for footballers are on the knees and ankles, so I do proprioception exercises before starting trainings. Staying happy and positive also helps us to stay away from injury.

Diet

As per our physical demands we must eat a variety of carbohydrates and proteins to fuel our body. My normal breakfast is an omelette-toast, orange juice, cereals and green tea. Lunch must be high on carbohydrates if the training/game has been tough, in that case I eat pasta or rice with meat or fish and some variety of fruits (pineapple, watermelon, peach etc). For dinner some kind of vegetables and fish or meat, it depends what I had for lunch. Cheat meal is important also after the games or midweek.

Fitness advice 

Think as a football player all day long, it’s not just going to train, every action matters during your day.

Kamaljit Singh (Goalkeeper)

Fitness Mantra 

Be determined. I always make sure I eat healthy food, drink more water to keep my body hydrated and find my motivation to do all this.

Favourite workout 

During off-season I work on my shoulders, arms, legs, chest and core. As a goalkeeper I need to be more flexible and quick but I love to work on my lower body. I do Jogging, sprinting, and jumping combinations on the field. I spend my more time on the field in functional training instead of weight training. 

Regime

During the season, I work on my balancing skills. I try to strengthen my hands, legs, upper body and since I need to be aware and calm mentally during the game. Hand-eye coordination helps me the most during the game. During off-season, I follow muscle combinations like biceps-triceps-calves, shoulder-chest and legs-hamstrings. I workout for one hour with three sets and 10-12 repetitions during the off-season. 

Avoiding injuries 

I workout on each and every part of my body muscles. I drink good amount of water everyday to keep my body hydrated before the game. I strengthen all my muscles I always try to increase my flexibility I make sure that I sleep for at least for 8-9 hours a day.

Diet

I always try to eat clean and healthy food I try to avoid masala and oily food. I eat colourful salads and veggies each day. For breakfast I eat boil eggs, cereal, fresh fruits and for lunch, I consume more carbs and proteins through chapatis, chicken, fish, a bowl of vegetables and of course salads. I also add curd to the meal for strengthening my bones. Dinner is about less carbs and more veggies and fruits. I always make sure I take good supplements like fish oils and whey proteins.

Fitness advice 

Drink good amount of water everyday, work on your weaknesses and make sure you have goals in your life. Work on them each and everyday; always be positive and keep the motivation levels up.