Maurizio Sarri: Chelsea players don't do weights

MAURIZIO SARRI has sparked a huge debate within the football performance industry by revealing his Chelsea players do not do weight training.

Speaking ahead of the Blues' Europa League win over Bate Borisov on Thursday, Sarri said striker Alvaro Morata had not - and would not - be doing weight training.

"He will not be doing weights," Sarri said. "Yesterday he had aerobic training. Today he will have strength training - but 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.”

This is a theme TGG has covered in some detail before and it often divides opinion:


Darcy Norman, the former Head of Performance at AS Roma, says weight training is crucial and that football still needs to improve its S&C culture.

“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.

“Look at Arsenal’s academy, for example. Des Ryan and his staff are doing a phenomenal job. He is an ex rugby guy and gets the players lifting and strong. The utopia is to have an athlete who is as strong as possible.

"Remember strong does not mean big – players also need mobility, stability, movement efficiency. From an S&C standpoint, football does not have a strong culture. It’s getting much better, but still has a long way to go.”


Rui Faria, who was Jose Mourinho's assistant throughout his career before leaving Manchester United in the summer, believes many players do too much weight training.

The Portuguese, who is an advocate of tactical periodisation, says he persuaded Cristiano Ronaldo to ease off the weights 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.’ 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. I gave Frank Lampard an analogy for him to understand that, yes, there is a logic to [tactical periodisation].

“Practise, prepare, don’t run yourself into the ground. Frank was ready to listen and learn, be humble, put team interests ahead of his own interests.”


Adam Beard is the former Director of High Performance with the Cleveland Browns.

"There are scientific principles, but you should be able to construct something bespoke for your own team. I feel that sometimes the science dictates the art in professional sport. A lot of very good coaches come from an artistic kind of background.

"Football, like rugby, has got into really physiological loading – GPS, heart rate and all that stuff – but it’s like looking at the engine of a car. You have to make it more efficient too, pump those tyres up. That’s a big thing and I don’t think us, as practitioners, utilise that like we could.

"We do a lot of unweighted things, like water bags, where you create unstable environments, so the muscles create preflexes not reflexes, which creates stiffness and the ability to produce forces faster. I think this is going to take off in football conditioning, for sure."

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