May 07, 2021 10 min read

Good athletes and fame go hand in hand, but there are few that can boast of being incredibly famous in all parts of the world.

Cristiano Ronaldo is without a doubt one of those athletes, being named ESPN’s World’s Most Famous Athlete three years in a row. Also known as “CR7”, he is a juggernaut on the soccer field and in the sports world.

It’s therefore no surprise that he has an insanely grueling workout schedule in order to stay in his best condition. In fact, he’s commented that he feels like he’s 10 years younger even though he’s now in his mid-30s.

Even if you’re not looking to become world-famous, the Ronaldo training routine and diet plan have something to teach every one of us.

Who is CR7?

Born in 1985 and hailing from Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo is considered the best soccer player in the world currently and one of the best players of all time. At the age of 15, he had to undergo surgery due to a heart condition. However, one year later he would go on to be signed by Manchester United.

Although his path to the top definitely wasn’t easy, he’s definitely made it further than most people. He’s earned a record-tying five Ballon d’Or awards, which is the most for a European player. He’s also the first to win four European Golden Shoes.

Under his belt, he’s got 26 trophies, including five league titles, five UEFA Champions League titles, and one UEFA European Championship.

Cristiano Ronaldo in Juventus uniform

Training Like Ronaldo

Being the best doesn’t come easy, and the Ronaldo training regime proves that without a shadow of a doubt. Although Ronaldo will also be switching things up with his training, there are some fundamental tenets that he likes to stick to. For example, he’ll usually be training five days per week, dedicating 3 to 5 hours of exercise each day.

And to add to this mix, he’ll intersperse 20-to-30-minute cardio sessions throughout the day. It’s hard to imagine he has time for much more than eating, working out, and sleeping. This is also the reason he’s able to stay so lean, usually floating around or under 10% body fat.

The cardio obviously helps with this, since his body is constantly burning through fat to fuel his activity. However, a lot of his exercises are structured in such a way to also maximize the development of his cardiovascular health and muscular endurance. For example, he includes a lot of circuits in his workouts.

This means that he’ll go through a series of exercises back to back, with minimal rest. Once he gets to the end, he might rest for a little longer before starting again. The circuits outlined below require you to go through them three times, and you can bet that your heart will be thumping by the end of it.

This kind of high-intensity working out is also great for keeping lean while maintaining and developing strength. One of the most necessary athletic strengths that Ronaldo needs is stamina, and his workout routine is organized in such a way as to constantly be developing this aspect.

Obviously, he also needs powerful legs that can not only continue running for extended periods of time but also sprinting fast and jumping high when they need to. For this, it takes a well-rounded leg workout such as this one:

  • Single-Leg Glute Bridge: 1 set of 40-second reps on each side, followed by no rest
  • Reverse Lunge: 1 set of 30-second reps on each side, followed by no rest
  • Drop Squat: 1 set of 40-second reps on each side, followed by 20 seconds of rest
  • Side-Lying Leg Raise: 1 set of 50-second reps on each side, followed by no rest
  • Walking Lunge (with dumbbells): 1 set of 50-second reps, followed by no rest
  • Jump Squat: 1 set of 30-second reps, followed by 20 seconds of rest
  • Crossback Lunge: 1 set of 40-second reps, followed by no rest
  • Elevated Split Squat: 1 set of 40-second reps on each side, followed by no rest
  • Bodyweight squat: 1 set of 30-second reps, followed by no rest
  • Jump squat: 1 set of 30-second reps, followed by 20 seconds of rest

The Cristiano Ronaldo Workout Routine

Ronaldo’s routine places a big emphasis on four key areas: legs, core, stability, and cardio. Focusing on these aspects of his training, he’s able to build an incredibly solid foundation that not only makes him a terrific soccer player but also very healthy.

He’ll develop these skills by mixing up cardio, high-intensity interval training or sprinting, weight training, and also technical drills in order to improve his ball-handling. This isn’t even mentioning the tactical exercises he’ll do as well, in order to develop better communication with his teammates.

When it comes to building a strong foundation of the legs and core, this is probably one of the best workouts to follow. It’s also compounded by the focus on muscular endurance rather than strength, and so heavy weights aren’t emphasized as much. Whether or not you’re a soccer player, you’re sure to see results by following this workout plan.

1. Monday: Circuit Training

This circuit is meant to be completed three times. Take minimal rest in between each exercise, and some more rest as needed at the end of each circuit.

  • Barbell Squat: 8 reps
  • Box Jump: 20 inches and reps 10
  • Broad Jump: 8 reps
  • Jumping Lunge: 8 reps for each leg
  • Lateral Bound: 12 inches and 10 reps

2. Tuesday: Rest day

Ronaldo uses his Tuesdays to give himself a rest (along with Saturday). Giving your muscles time to recover is absolutely essential if you want to be avoiding injury and allowing your muscle mass and strength to develop. Over-training is a serious problem, and it can sneak up on anyone.

Your muscles don’t actually start growing until you allow them to rest, since growth comes from the tears in your muscle fibers healing over stronger. This is particularly the case if you’re working out as consistently and as hard as Ronaldo.

Multiple 30-minute runs throughout the day on top of around 3 hours of daily training is going to put some serious wear and tear on your body—it doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a hardened athlete. Getting enough rest is critical if you’re looking to progress consistently and efficiently in your training.

3. Wednesday: Circuit Training

This circuit is meant to be completed three times. Take minimal rest in between each exercise, and some more rest as needed at the end of each circuit.

  • Burpee Pullup: 10 to 15 reps
  • Bench Dips: 20 reps
  • Pus-ups: 20 to 30 reps
  • Medicine Ball Toss: 15 reps
  • Push Press: 10 reps

4. Thursday: Quads and Cardio

  • Power Cleans: 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Sprinting: 8 sets of 200 meters

5. Friday: Stability and Core

  • One-Arm Side Deadlift: 3 sets of 5 reps, for each arm
  • Dumbbell One-Legged Deadlift: 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Knee Tuck Jump: 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
  • Overhead Slam: 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
  • One-Leg Barbell Squat: 2 sets of 5 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raise: 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps

Hard Work on the Weekend

Saturday is left for rest. As we discussed above, rest days are critical for your development. And they’re even more critical if you even slightly follow the Ronaldo workout routine with several hours of exercising on most days.

On Sunday he does some cardio exercises, including:

  • Rope Jumping: 10 sets with a 1-minute rest in between
  • Resistance Sprinting: 10 sets going 50 meters each time

However, this also brings up a good point about how you spend your rest days. Although your muscles do need to recover at the end of the day, you can still remain active by doing light cardio activities.

Things such as hiking, casual sports, or swimming, can all help to trim the fat, increase your stamina, flexibility, and coordination—all without taking a big toll on your body. This is also good for your mental health.

Even Ronaldo talks about how mental strength is just as (if not more) necessary as physical strength, especially when you’re an athlete at the level that he’s at. Keeping your mind relaxed, with an eye on the prize is the best way to keep your body also moving towards its goals.

Sleep is one of those essential things that help to maintain a good attitude as well as a healthy body. Ronaldo gets 8 hours of sleep and cites this as a big part of his training routine. You’re not going to get very far if you’re skimping on rest—even if you are eating amazingly well and training like a madman.

All solid routines are going to necessitate a combination of proper nutrients, exercise, and rest. At least if you want long-term results that carry on for decades.  

Cryotherapy capsule in cosmetology clinic

Cryotherapy

In fact, recovery is so important for Ronaldo that he’s invested a pretty penny for his own cryogenic chamber at his home. This is one of the newer ways that athletes have been using to recover after matches or workouts.

Cryotherapy is a treatment that makes use of freezing or almost freezing temperatures—an unpleasant thought to those of us who are used to taking boiling showers. Even though this type of treatment is relatively new, its benefits have been widely reported.

The primary use for someone like Ronaldo is for pain relief and muscle healing. And since he’s putting so much stress on his joints, it’s a given that he’s going to need to take care of them as well as he can.

The thinking behind this is similar to putting an icepack over a problem area, but instead of an icepack, you’ve got a whole chamber you go into. Along with helping alleviate soreness, it’s also been argued that cryotherapy is able to help the process of weight loss, reduce inflammation, reduce anxiety and depression, and it can be used as a treatment for migraine headaches.

Ronaldo in the Kitchen

But as we all know by now, training is only part of the equation. In fact, it’s a smaller equation than what you put into your body—you can’t out-train a bad diet, after all. This goes especially true for Ronaldo.

Not only does he consistently remain under 10% body fat, but he’s also training for several hours, but he’s also running in 30-minute increments throughout the day. The man is a powerhouse. And for a powerhouse, you need fuel. Although you’ll sometimes catch him indulging in cakes, sweets, and alcohol—who doesn’t?

For the most part, Ronaldo’s diet strictly tries to avoid sugar and alcohol. Although he doesn’t pay that much attention to his macros, especially in terms of carbs and fats, his diet is very high protein. Seafood in particular plays a major role in his diet.

Fish and different types of seafood are some of the healthiest foods on the planet, let alone one of the healthiest proteins. And while it’s often said that lean meats are the best, this mostly only applies to red meats. Fish on the other hand have even more benefits the fattier they are.

For example, they include iodine and several different types of vitamins and minerals. Fatty fish have a higher percentage of fat-based nutrients, such as vitamin D which is fat-soluble (with many people lacking it). 

Omega-3 fatty acids are also plentiful in fish, helping your body and brain work under optimal conditions while also being linked to a reduced risk of many diseases.

Here are some of the other foods that Ronaldo includes in his daily meal plan:

  • Seafood
  • Chicken Breast
  • Turkey
  • Tuna
  • Egg Whites
  • Potatoes
  • Beans
  • Fruits
  • Rice
  • Green vegetables

Superstar Meal Planning

Because he’s either running or in the gym so often throughout the day, Ronaldo usually splits up six smaller meals throughout the day, eating once every 2 to 4 hours. This is necessary because of his extremely high metabolism—if he doesn’t eat enough, then his body will begin breaking down his muscles.

This is also the reason for his low body fat level that shows off his six-pack. A sample meal plan for his day might look something like this:

  • Breakfast: Whole-wheat or whole-grain cereal, egg whites, fruit juice
  • Lunch: Whole-wheat pasta, green vegetables, baked potato, chicken, and a salad
  • Snack: Tuna roll with fruit juice or lemon juice
  • Dinner: Rice with pulses, chicken or turkey breasts, beans, and fruits

Ronaldo’s favorite meal—which isn’t featured above—is called bacalhau à brás. This Portuguese dish is made from shreds of salted cod, thinly chopped potatoes, and onions. This is all combined in a scrambled egg mixture and then garnished with olives and parsley.

Although this isn’t typical fare for your average American, it does act as a small microcosm of Ronaldo’s overall diet: an emphasis on protein, with carbs to power him, some healthy fat, and nutrients to keep his body in tip-top condition. For snacks, he’ll either go with fish or something else that’s packed with nutrients.

Nuts and seeds are a good choice as well, as well as fruits or vegetables. He’ll also supplement with a protein shake throughout the day, which isn’t a surprise considering his demanding workout schedule.

The more energy you expend, the more food (and the higher quality of food) you should be consuming. Take care of these two things and you’ll be well on your way to looking, and feeling, like Ronaldo.  

branched chain amino acids BCAA

Supplements for Ronaldo

Whey protein powder is one obvious way that Ronaldo supplements. Although getting your nutrients from food tends to be the better choice, that’s not always possible if you’re going through so much energy.

BCAAs can also maximize your gains while reducing muscle soreness, which can be helpful if you’re working out often. And adding some multivitamins into the mix is also a good idea since they’ll help your body function at its best capacity.

Ronaldo also takes supplements for joint relief. While it’s not revealed what exactly these supplements might be, a good choice would be glucosamine. He is working out hard and often, and his joints are going to need all the support they can get.

Tuning into CR7

Ronaldo has said that he still feels like he did 20 years ago, and he doesn’t have his eyes set on retiring any time soon. Even though he’s put his body through so much work, he’s ready to go as ever. There are several things that Ronaldo can teach us about working out and leading a healthy lifestyle.

The most important is the focus on the base. It’s apparent that he’s built one hell of a foundation by putting emphasis on his legs, core, stability, and cardio. Along with his insane muscular endurance, the man is a powerhouse. But even if our goals don’t exactly match up to Ronaldo’s, this kind of commitment to the foundation is something we can all take away from his routine.

Ronaldo’s routine shows us what it takes to be at the top of your sport, and it’s just as brutal as it seems. But with a committed mindset, discipline, and motivation, you can create whatever life you choose.


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