Real Madrid players were spotted running around with masks on their faces after returning to pre-season training at their Valdebebas base, but what are they being used for?
The likes of Vinicius Junior and David Alaba were all seen carrying out conditioning exercises with masks on their faces, as instructed by Antonio Pintus, Los Blancos’ fitness coach.
The fitness coach has made elaborate plans for Carlo Ancelotti’s players so that they can fight on all fronts at the end of the season, staying in the best possible shape.
The masks, which have been compared to the one worn by Bane in the 2012 Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, are used primarily to simulate the effects of altitude training. The test results will help Pintus design a training plan tailored to each individual according to their requirements.
The Madrid coach is known for his revolutionary fitness and training methods, which aim to get the best out of his players. It’s not the first time he’s used these elaborate face coverings in training.
During the 2021 pre-season, he used the same props to push players to give their best. Also in January 2022, before their Copa del Rey match against Athletic Club, Madrid’s players underwent similar fitness tests while wearing a mask and a rucksack.
What has Pintus said about the use of masks by the Real Madrid team?
Pintus explained how the unique fitness test works in an interview with Real Madrid TV, saying: “The test is carried out using a mask with a layer system. It’s certainly not hypoxia training. It is a test designed to find out the condition of the players. Aerobic and anaerobic thresholds and their actual power”.
“The mask works to analyze oxygen and carbohydrates. We need to know the percentage of one and the other in order to determine the state of the player at the moment.”
The Madrid coach continued: “The result helps to personalize or at least give some direction to the work the team is doing.”
“Pre-season training is based on an aerobic base of long runs, which is then used side-by-side with the direction and objective of shorter, faster runs.”
What is Pintus’ training plan for Real Madrid ahead of the World Cup?
The 2022-23 edition will be unique in its own way due to the World Cup starting on November 21, 2022. Real Madrid have around 15 players who could go to Qatar for the big event, while the rest of the squad will to continue training in Valdebebas.
Pintus has designed separate training plans as the two groups of players will require a very different conditioning approach from each other.