It is not just on the football pitch that West Ham United's players are expected to hone their skills ahead ot the start of the new campaign.

Gym work also plays a key role in their ability to perform on the field, and the Club's fitness coaches have been putting the squad through their paces during their training camp in France.

Following work on the football pitches in the evening, the afternoon focus has been on strength and core work, and Hammers fitness coach Eamon Swift explained the science behind the exercises.


"As well as their pitch work, the players are also expected to do some gym work and the idea behind it is that we target specific areas or muscles to try and make them a bit more resistant and robust towards injury," he explained.

"We accept that injuries are going to happen, but it's our responsibility as staff and their responsibility as players to do as much as we can to try and prevent that.

"We've worked on some exercises for the hamstrings, the abductors, for the core specifically. The players will complete two or three sessions a week, alongside their pitch-based sessions."

Having just returned to pre-season, Swift outlined the need to build up the intensity of the players' work over a period of time.

He continued: "It's important at this time of the year as they build up again, but it's also important that they start at the right level. The work we did on the first day was very much what we consider level one - body weight exercises and what we call isometric holds. That's us encouraging them to hold specific body shapes and positions.

"We haven't put any external loads or heavy weights on them yet, because we understand that they've come from a big period of inactivity. Now, as well as their pitch sessions which involve much more twisting, turning and football actions, they also have to begin to work on their strength.

"The balance has to be right between building up their fitness and tolerance for work, but in a careful way that we don't pick up any injuries.

"The activities change as the season goes on - at the moment it's a level one, introduction to their strength, and that will be progressed as the weeks and months go on. The tasks will become more challenging, the load that they have to tolerate is slowly progressed and increased.

"We have to keep the stimulus changing, keep them interested as much as anything, and in the same way the pitch work develops over time, it's the same for the strength and core exercises."