Cristiano Ronaldo’s obsessive fitness regime and age-blasting diet have kept him in incredible shape during his career… but at 38 are his superpowers beginning to wane as Al-Nassr boss reveals superstar suffers from fatigue?
- Cristiano Ronaldo was rested for an AFC Champions League fixture
- Al-Nassr’s manager Luis Castro said he needed to recover from fatigue
- DOMINIC KING: I don’t understand what football is anymore – It’s All Coming Up
Across the sporting world, players have repeatedly tried to bend time to their will.
Tom Brady won a Super Bowl six months short of his 44th birthday, while James Anderson has continued to take wickets with metronomic accuracy long after turning 40.
Lionel Messi was relatively wet behind the ears as he inspired Argentina to World Cup glory at the age of 35.
Ultimately, Father Time remains undefeated even against the very best, no matter how strict their diets and how obsessive their fitness routines.
Cristiano Ronaldo was offered a brutal insight into the life of an ageing athlete this week, when he missed Al-Nassr’s Asian Champions League tie against Al-Duhail on Tuesday because of fatigue.
Cristiano Ronaldo was rested for Al-Nassr’s AFC Champions League fixture against Al-Duhail
Al-Nassr head coach Luis Castro insisted Ronaldo needs to rest after recent matches
Castro said Ronaldo was suffering from fatigue following a challenging recent schedule
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Al-Nassr head coach Luis Castro stressed that the Portuguese needed to recuperate from the exertions of recent matches.
‘Cristiano Ronaldo will not participate in the Al-Duhail match because he is tired due to his many participations,’ he said.
‘I know that there are those who want to see him, but he needs to rest. He is not ready, but we have many stars.
‘I did not decide to exclude the legend Cristiano Ronaldo, but his capabilities decided that.
‘Because 48 hours ago he played a match, and before that he played 120 minutes.’
In normal circumstances, resting a 38-year-old to allow him to recover from a gruelling schedule would hardly be newsworthy.
Except that Ronaldo isn’t a normal 38-year-old athlete.
Ronaldo (pictured playing for Man United in 2021) is still in incredible shape for a 38-year-old
The Portuguese is a notoriously dedicated trainer and follows a strict regime
Tests carried out earlier this year found Ronaldo had the body of an athlete 14 years his junior
Like Brady, the Portuguese is notoriously fastidious about his diet and wears his obsession with his health and fitness routines proudly on his sleeve.
Ronaldo supplements squad training sessions with a personal workout plan.
His five weekly trips to the gym include 25-30 minutes of cardio, high-intensity sprinting and targeted weights to increase muscle strength.
In total, he works out for three to four hours a day and the results are there for all to see.
The former Manchester United star remains outrageously toned for someone two years short of his 40th birthday and tests carried out earlier this year found he had the body of an athlete 14 years his junior, with seven per cent body fat — the average footballer’s is 11 — and 50 per cent muscle mass.
‘Fit in exercise wherever you can,’ he said back in 2015 when he delved into his ‘top 15 health and fitness tips’ he follows.
Ronaldo’s five weekly trips to the gym include 25-30 minutes of cardio, high-intensity sprinting and targeted weights to increase muscle strength
Ronaldo works out for three to four hours a day on top of his team training sessions
The Al-Nassr star has cited dedication and making his workouts part of a daily routine as the reason why he remains in incredible shape
‘You can do an abs workout in your bedroom when you wake up in the morning or before you go to bed. If you get into a routine then it makes it easier as it will become a habit.’
But even the best training regimes would be futile without the commitment to follow them regularly.
And Ronaldo believes dedication is the chief factor behind his transformation from the skinny teenager that arrived at Old Trafford in 2003 into a ripped athlete whose abs routinely adorn the covers of glossy magazines.
‘[You have to] Be disciplined. Keeping yourself motivated and sticking to your routine is key. For me, there is no room for easing off so I have to be strict.’
Ronaldo follows his diet just as meticulously as he exercises, eating six smaller meals throughout the day, as opposed to the average man’s traditional three-meal structure of breakfast-lunch-dinner.
The Portuguese has employed a nutritionist since his Real Madrid days and loves nutrient-rich foods such avocado and fresh fish and generally sticks to high-protein, low-fat foods like chicken.
Unsurprisingly, Ronaldo avoids alcohol and he is also notoriously adverse to sugary drinks.
He famously caused a sponsorship headache at Euro 2020 when he pointedly removed Coca-Cola bottles from his seating area at a press conference before shouting in Portuguese: ‘Drink water!’.
When Ronaldo returned to United in 2021, then third-choice goalkeeper Lee Grant revealed his strict eating regime had an immediate impact on his new team-mates’ diets.
Grant told talkSPORT that United players avoided desserts ahead of Ronaldo’s debut against Newcastle after noticing the Portuguese had swerved cakes himself.
‘Not one player touched the apple crumble and custard, not one player went up for that brownie because everybody was sat down,’ he said,
‘One of the lads said to me, “What has Cristiano got on his plate?”
‘So we were having a little goosey gander at what he has got and obviously it is the cleanest, most healthy plate you can imagine.
‘And it just cracked me up how not one single player dared get up and have that junk food that was laid out.’
As he returned to Old Trafford, Ronaldo also reportedly had a £50,000 cryotherapy chamber installed at home.
Ronaldo is also notoriously meticulous about his food and follows a very healthy diet
From ‘magical’ chicken, a strict napping schedule and at-home cryotherapy – Mail Sport examines the health hacks that have helped Ronaldo to enjoy a long career at the top level
The therapy, which is also used by Manchester City star Erling Haaland, is thought to help reduce inflammation and injury swelling by boosting blood circulation as the body responds to the extreme cold.
Ronaldo is similarly conscious when it comes to his rest, getting his seven-and-a-half hours of sleep with five 90-minute naps rather than one big sleep.
But despite his obsessive diet and training regimes, it’s hardly a surprise Ronaldo may be finally beginning to slow down.
The five-time Champions League winner has never suffered any major injuries throughout his career and his durability has meant breaks away from the game have been at a premium.
Ronaldo has played at least 30 games in a season since turning professional back in 2002, only falling short of reaching the 40-appearance threshold in his debut campaign and over the last two seasons.
Ronaldo previously said sleeping is key to muscle recovery; he has five 90-minute naps a day
Ronaldo continues to have a gruelling schedule as he remains a key player for club and country
Ronaldo missed Al-Nassr’s opening Saudi League game of the season in August, but has played the full 90 minutes in 10 of their next 11 league fixtures – he was substituted four minutes from the end in the 4-0 win over Al-Shabab on August 29.
Before being rested for the game against Al-Duhail, Ronaldo had also played the whole game in Al-Nassr’s three Asian Champions League fixtures so far this season and played 120 minutes in the King Cup of Champions Round of 16 clash against Al-Ettifaq last week.
The Portugal legend was granted a game off as his side swept past Ohod 5-1 in the same competition in September after returning from international duty.
Ronaldo has so far played three times for Portugal since the start of the season, missing the fixture against Luxembourg in September through suspension.
He is Al-Nassr’s top scorer this season, netting 15 times in 16 matches.
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