'There is still a lot of work to do, but that’s why we are here'
West Ham United will reap the benefits of a physically demanding pre-season when the 2019/20 Premier League season kicks-off in August, says Head of Medical Richard Collinge.
The Hammers have already sweated their way through nearly 20 training sessions in a week at their camp in the Swiss mountains, including early-morning interval runs, strength and conditioning work and early-evening technical work.
After spending their summer break on individual fitness and nutrition programmes, Collinge said the pre-season schedule had been planned specifically to push the players to their physical limits, preparing them for the demands of the most intense league in the world.
The guys have come back in good shape this year and we’re pleased in that regard. There is still a lot of work to do, but that’s why we are where we are and we continue
Head of Medical Richard Collinge
“Players just don’t go away and have six weeks off,” he confirmed. “We make sure they’re conditioned and ready for day one. We don’t start the process on day one, we make sure they’re on a level where they can go into a football session very quickly.
“So, for example, they can start striking a ball without fear of damaging an adductor or a hip flexor muscle.
“The guys have come back in good shape this year and we’re pleased in that regard. There is still a lot of work to do, but that’s why we are where we are and we continue.”
After completing interval runs to improve stamina and aerobic fitness before breakfast, the lunchtime sessions have seen the players work on their strength and conditioning, both on the pitch and in the gym.
“We try to make sure that when they’re in the gym, they do spill out onto the pitch so they can overload their muscles in one respect, but also we want to have a carry-over onto the pitch,” Collinge explained, when asked how the sessions benefit the squad.
“As we do at Rush Green, once a week we make sure they have a gym stimulus that carries over onto the pitch and vice-versa. Those two sessions are very much designed to complement each other.”
Overall, Collinge and his staff have been impressed with the fitness levels shown by the players and, should they continue to progress over the next month, believes the Hammers will be in good shape when they kick-off against Manchester City at London Stadium on Saturday 10 August.
“We’re always looking to make improvements and it feels like we’ve come a long way from this time last year in terms of the players’ physical condition and the infrastructure we are able to provide for them,” he concluded.
“We want to stimulate muscles that they are going to use on a daily basis when they train at West Ham and get them conditioned for games and the game coming up [at Austrian Bundesliga club SC Altach] on Thursday.”