Much of the world watched the Final World Cup match between Germany and Argentina on July 13, and one star player, Argentina’s Lionel Messi, earned plenty of attention. Even though Argentina eventually lost to Germany, Messi’s performance was a spectacle for soccer lovers. At 27 years old, Messi has already accomplished a great deal; he is the recipient of many awards, has played in the World Cup three times, and plays for Barcelona where he is the team’s all-time top scorer. 

How has Messi achieved all this? Well for starters, he’s got one heck of a diet and workout routine.     

How Messi moves

Messi performs on the field like an artist, making this exhausting sport look easy. In order for Messi to perform this way, he spends his time preparing for matches with two kinds of workouts, the first of which focuses on linear speed. According to healthyliving.axcentral.com, linear speed workouts focus on speed and coordination in a linear sense, meaning forwards and backwards. The training regimen promotes powerful bursts of speed and also abrupt deceleration. These workouts put an emphasis on the athletes’ arms, which drive their acceleration. Practicing linear speed is important for a soccer player because it teaches speed, coordination, rapid acceleration and deceleration, which are all things you’ll encounter on the field while trying to keep up with your opponents.   

This workout includes pillar bridges, in which you position yourself on your elbows and toes for varying amounts of time. The workout also includes knee hugs, inverted hamstring stretches, pillar skips and rapid response 2-foots, which strengthen the ankles, knees and hips. These movements are followed by hurdle hops, split squat jumps, acceleration wall drills, acceleration split stance, and acceleration to base. 

Messi's second workout focuses on multidirectional speed. Multidirectional speed exercises train an athlete to be able to accelerate in different directions with stability, coordination, and speed, according to stack.com. The exercises are used to help an athletes' overall agility on the field, focusing on understanding the proper techniques for changing direction quickly and accelerating from any position.   

This workout includes pillar bridges, lateral lunges, rotational lunge stretches, all of which work out and stretch the trunk, hip flexor, groin, legs and glutes. This is followed by pillar skips, rapid response 1-foot lateral bases — in which you start from an athletic base position and jump up and down, first with the left foot landing in place of the right, doing this alternating back and forth as fast as possible laterally over a line. This is done with both legs, and works out the hips, knees and ankles. This is followed by hurdle hops, lateral bounds, lateral shuffle to cut, in which you set up two cones roughly 6-8 feet apart and shuffle in between to practice agility and the ability to cut quickly. This is followed by 3-hurdledrills, and finally mirror drills, in which you practice by trying to mimic another athlete's moves.   

Both workouts are designed to increase stability, speed and foot coordination.

What Messi eats

Ten days before a match, Messi begins altering his diet, according to Men's Health. First he starts cutting down carbohydrates and ingesting a lot more protein, drinking three protein shakes a day, and up to eight glasses of water. Messi cuts down his carbohydrates so that the muscles in his body will begin to increase their carbohydrate absorption, while the body tries to maximize all blood sugar available. 

With his body working overtime, Messi will get a boost of energy and stamina when he begins to load on the carbohydrates closer to the game. When the game is five days away, Messi eats vegetable soup before every meal. The veggies in this soup include important spices like turmeric, chili, coriander and ginger. These spices are vaso-dilators, which means they help to increase blood flow. The soup is also hydrating. One day before the game, Messi will eat fish, chicken or prawns along with potatoes, green veggies and an orange. Finally, when it’s six hours before the match, Messi eats porridge or egg whites for the protein and carbs. About 90 minutes before the game starts, Messi eats fruit, including bananas, mangos and apples. And with that last sweet snack, Messi is off, breaking more records.

Related on MNN: