Jack Wilshere’s name and the word injury are, sadly, inextricably linked. The midfielder missed an entire season with an ankle problem, and even his last campaign was ruined by a shocking Paddy McNair challenge in November.
Although he returned late in the season, scoring that fabulous goal against West Brom and coming on in the FA Cup final, he missed a lot of football.
Criticised in some quarters for incidents involving smoking, the England international has given some behind the scenes insight into his, and Arsenal’s, training and fitness regime.
Speaking to this month’s edition of Men’s Fitness, Wilshere said the requirements for top level football are ‘absurd’, but also touched on his his fitness training has developed over the years.
“When I first got injured my core strength was terrible,” he said. “I was 18, playing three times
a week and didn’t really do any gym work.
“All of a sudden when you’re injured you realise everything revolves around your core. It’s crucial for balance and absorbing impact. The first thing my physios got me to work on was my balance.
“I had to stand on one leg and close my eyes. I couldn’t do it.”
In the modern era, players can’t allow their base fitness to be an issue, such are the demands of the game.
“The intensity of the Premier League is incredible,” he continued. “The levels of fitness you have to reach just to survive in it is absurd.
“When you’re out for a few months it’s tough to come back. It takes a lot of work in the gym with the physios, the specialists, you’re willing to try anything that will help you get fit.
“We get weighed every week,” [Wilshere is 76kg and 7.8% body fat]. “We get regular DEXA scans to check our muscle mass and body fat levels. There’s no hiding place.”
He also touches on the training regimes at the club which have changed over the years.
“Training used to be long, hard double sessions for the whole team … now it’s more positional-based. Midfielders do one drill, defenders and attackers another. Training is more intelligent.”
It’s a very interesting piece which you can read in full in the latest edition of Men’s Fitness. Out today for subscribers and available everywhere from July 15th.