Anthony Gordon: Why I 'never' do weight training at Newcastle United

Anthony Gordon: Joined Newcastle from Everton in January 2023

Anthony Gordon: Joined Newcastle from Everton in January 2023

Newcastle United forward Anthony Gordon says he “never” does weight training as he believes it will increase his risk of injury.

Speaking to The Overlap with Gary Neville, the 23-year-old said: “I don’t do weight training at all, never. The lads at the club do do it. My game is not really reliant on it and I just think we do enough running, (so) adding actual weight onto your muscles and your body is just going to put you under more stress, resulting in more chance of injury.

“It would probably make me stronger and I’d probably actually get quicker and more explosive, but I might get more injuries, so it’s not worth that end result for me.”

Gordon explained that manager Eddie Howe and the club’s performance staff were happy for him to opt out of strength and conditioning sessions in the gym.

“The gaffer and the gym staff, they’re fine with me doing this,” he said. “They know I don’t like it, I just like to do what makes me feel good and this season I’ve been injury free touch wood, so it’s worked.

Mina Cup

“The club are very understanding with how I am, because physio treatment and gym, I don’t go in the gym and I don’t go in the treatment, I just do what I need to do.

“I do a lot of stretching, a lot of yoga, a lot of that side of the gym, but actual weights, treatments, not for me. Some lads are in there every morning, getting flushes (rub downs) or getting a back stretch.

“Only thing I do is stretch. I stretch before training and after training and that’s it. I do a lot of recovery; my gym stuff is more recovery-based, so I do a lot of Wattbike, the NormaTec, where you squeeze your legs. I love an ice bath, and pool and stretch.

“It’s more flexibility, getting my legs in a good place rather than trying to add to it. A lot of the time, when the session finishes and some lads will go in the gym, I stay out all the time, just finishing or doing extra bits, because I feel training has ended too quickly and I’m not ready to go in.”

Newcastle's Head of Performance is Dan Hodges, who arrived at the club with Howe in November 2021, and their Lead Strength and Conditioning Coach is Nick Grantham, who has been with the Magpies since August 2019.


Gordon has reignited a long-standing debate about the importance (or otherwise) of weight training in football. In 2018, then Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri said: "We don’t use any weights, it’s all natural work that we do in the gym. Nobody does weights. I’ve never seen a player with a weight on the pitch.”

Jose Mourinho’s long-time assistant Rui Faria concurred in an interview in the same year, recalling conversations he had had with Cristiano Ronaldo during their time together at Real Madrid.

“I said, ‘With this (gym work), you’re going to lose mobility and agility and a guy like you is about speeding with the ball, you have a lot of skills to dribble,’” Faria said. “But I never say stop. I just opened their minds to a different approach.

“The concert pianist doesn’t run around the piano to get ready or do push-ups on his fingers."

However, leading practitioners have challenged this viewpoint in recent years.

Darcy Norman, a former performance coach with Germany, Bayern Munich and Roma, told TGG: “A lot of people, even to this day, say you don’t need to train weights, you just need to run. You totally need to do that though.

“What a lot of people don’t get is that strength doesn’t equal size. If you are pound for pound as strong as possible, then the energy it takes to do the same step is less and there is less metabolic consequence to do those steps.

“There are so many other benefits to strength training – muscle strength, power and so on – and that’s a big part of why there are so many muscle injuries in the sport. These guys are often muscularly weak in respect of the demands that are put on them. In my experience, the guys that were really resilient were also super consistent in the gym, they had good strong programmes, lifted weights and ended up performing well on the pitch at a high level and recovering faster.

“One of the reasons was because the energy per step was less for them and was less taxing on the body, so they didn’t have any ill effects. S&C needs to get better in the sport and it is getting better.”

Des Ryan, the former Head of Sports Medicine and Athletic Development at Arsenal’s Academy, agreed.

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  • Andy Goldie: Evolving A Club-Wide Game Model At Swansea City.
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Speaking on the TGG Podcast last year, he said: “There are some misconceptions that strength equals loss of range of motion, loss of speed; that it equals bulk and interferes in skills. Not true.

“Certainly when I arrived in the UK there maybe was not a large history of strength training athletic development in football, in Europe even, so there could be questions and hesitancy. Those questions get louder when you’re working with 13-year-olds to do these activities.

"I appreciate the questions and concerns - it is up to the practitioner to educate, to show the research in a user-friendly way, to share the development in an easy-to-digest way. It would be hard to reach the levels we are seeing by just doing team training on the pitch. This is where athletic development can help, at a young age and the adult phase.

"I think are huge gains to be got from it and I think we are seeing those from a lot of clubs in England, that are producing excellent players, technically, tactically and athletically and I think England is doing better than a lot of countries in that area of development.”

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