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Training, nutrition, recovery: the 3 pillars of personal training for athletes

Personal Trainer and Athlete coach, Alex Parsons likes to train footballers. It’s no surprise - he was a pro footballer himself. When playing at professional level, you are constantly pushing the boundaries, with that comes greater risk of injury if you are not conditioning correctly. Alex credits his professional career with his current career trajectory.
Alex Parsons trains outseaon summer footballers
As a footballer, I was injured quite a lot, so I had more time in the gym, he explains. I spent that time learning about my body, listening to the physios and S&C coaches, and seeing how other footballers were training. I absorbed the learning and quickly fell in love with gym training.

Training with Technogym at The Campus

Alex Parsons, Personal Trainer and Athlete coach spent time training athletes at The Campus, in Quinta de Logo in Portugal this Summer. He tells us why this purpose-built athlete training facility has everything a modern athlete could need.

The Campus is used as an overseas training space for offseason or preseason athletes across a huge range of sports, he says. It’s perfect, with amazing equipment, brilliant facilities, and everything you need in one place.

Core Stability Training
One of the pieces of equipment Parsons likes to use at The Campus is Skillmill, the self-powered curved treadmill. He was so impressed with it, that he sought out gyms back in the UK where he could use the Skillmill with his day-to-day clients.

Skillmill is an extraordinary equipment, he says. You can work as closely to your maximum threshold as possible and get some good work done. There’s so much a client can do on it, it’s not just a treadmill! You can use it as a deadmill, do lunges, bear crawls, the list goes on...

Un plank per migliorare la stabilità
I also love using Technogym’s Skilltools, particularly the resistance bands, foam roller, and mobility ball. Those three things come with me everywhere, they are always in my bag!

The long term plans for Parsons Include a high end private studio space, within a wellness centre, where clients get full support with recovery & nutrition fully equipped with Technogym cardio and strength equipment, with lots of natural light, and a focus on elite-level training for everyday clients and for athletes.

My background is in football, and it’s amazing to still be able to work with footballers, says Parsons. I’m so grateful that my career has developed in this direction. I enjoy being a close part of their offseason, and then watching them play on the weekend. It’s a great feeling to watch an athlete and know you played a part in helping them perform.
Indoor training on Skillmill
When Alex left the sport, he trained as a Personal Trainer, and took his Level 3 in 2017. I spent time training people in a local gym, but knew I wanted to specialise, he says. So after a lot of careful thought and planning, I launched my PT business in 2018, training gen pop clients on the south coast of the UK, but specialising in footballers and athletes.

An Athlete’s Training Philosophy For The Everyday Client

Parsons bases his training philosophy on three pillars: Training, Nutrition, and Recovery.

Fitness can’t be a one size fits all thing, he explains. The best athletes take care of their training, nutrition, sleep, and recovery - that’s why they are at the top of their game. Approach your fitness like an athlete, and you will benefit, whatever your goal might be.

Alex Parsons trains on the beaches of southern England
Any PT could design a session that beasts the client and makes them sore the next day. Some clients will think this means it’s working. It’s our job as professionals to train them properly. I want clients and athletes to leave my sessions feeling better about themselves. It takes a better PT to find that sweet spot of giving 100% in the gym, and still having 100% the next day for work or on the pitch. Lots of everyday clients are intimidated by the thought of training with a PT, but they are pleasantly surprised when they work with me!.
Alex has recently spent time with two professional footballers in preparation for their 2019/20 season and has discovered the benefits of using Technogym equipment to deliver an elite standard of training.

Danny Ings, who plays for Southampton Football Club, asked me to travel with him over the Summer,” explains Parsons. “We used Southampton’s training plan as a base and I added additional training to achieve his personal goals.

Indoor barbell training
We travelled to Miami, Portugal, and LA, and my role was to design and deliver his training, wherever we were. We were lucky enough to train in some amazing facilities - including The Campus at Quinta de Lago, which is installed with Technogym equipment. I also discovered how useful Technogym’s Skilltools are for mobile training.

Last year, Parsons became nutritionist and personal trainer of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in his off season in Los Angeles.

I am delighted to support them with workouts and training content, he says. My own social media is planned and thought out, based around giving people useful content that adds value to their fitness journey and daily life. I want to be recognised for sharing authentic content, not just for my followers, but for football fans too, to enable them to understand what goes on behind the scenes and obtain unfiltered access to their footballing hero’s.

 Structuring An Athlete Workout

I will see athletes for 3-4 sessions a week throughout offseason, and my job there is to build a foundation. The closer we get to the season, the more we will extend running distance for fitness. Strength work rep ranges rarely change from 3 x 8, as the goal is to build strength without causing DOMS which might impact their recovery or athletic performance.
  • Activation: Parsons starts with an activation phase, helping the athlete switch into training mode and focus on the mind/muscle connection.
  • Mobility: Parsons places huge importance on mobility, especially lower backs and hips, setting the foundation for strength work. Mobility is equally important for day-to-day clients.
  • Strength Phase: Parsons favours sets of 3 x 8 focusing on quads, hamstrings, and glutes for his footballer clients. A periodised approach is used for athletes and everyday clients.
  • Cardio: Parsons leaves his athletes to do their cardio on the pitch, but will use cardio and interval training to build a foundation in the offseason. Day to day clients do conditioning work.

I am happy to help my clients with training and educational content.

The modern footballer needs to focus on mobility, recovery, and core strength. Footballers aren’t huge athletes, but their core strength is immense due to the dynamic nature of the game. Football is getting faster, and developments in sport science supports athletes in getting quicker and stronger.

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