Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich spoke recently on the fitness routine that’s seen him perform at an iron man-like level the last few years. In an interview with the German newspaper TZ, Kimmich briefly outlined some of the key components of his physical preparation program, giving us a fascinating glimpse into the behind-the-scenes work that has kept one of game’s best fullbacks on the field and performing at a world class level.
In the interview, Kimmich mentions four key components to his training, 1) an emphasis on post-training and post-match recovery work, 2) training that stresses stabilization activities, 3) training that focuses on lower body power development, and 4) activities that are centered on mobility and flexibility. Let’s breakdown what those are and what role they may have in his performance:
Kimmich: “I don’t have any major fitness secret. But I do try to take care of my body. For example, with regular physio units. In South Tyrol, I sometimes do some yoga.”
Perhaps one of the biggest advancement in the sports performance field over the last 15 years has been in the science and application of post-training and post-match recovery. From optimal application of the peri-workout nutrition window to the proper balance of low intensity work to foster metabolic and neuromuscular recovery, to even giving attention to the effect breathing mechanics can have on the nervous system, advancements in recovery methods allow athletes to train at a higher level than ever before.
Kimmich: “Before training I do a lot of stabilization work.”
For US-based fans, the idea of “off the field training” is sometimes limited to images of athletes straining to lift maximal amounts of weight before chest bumping their training partner and screaming to literally no one in particular. And there’s absolutely a place for that type of training in an athlete’s program. But the application of activities to address “stabilization,” whether you call them proprioceptively-challenging exercises, neuromuscular activation training, or balance drills, is a critical component of a well-rounded athletic development program. These activities allow athletes to enhance the timing and coordination of the muscles recruited during movement patterns, a key aspect to injury prevention.
Kimmich: “…and I also do a lot of power training for the legs”
Ask any performance coach worth his or her salt, and that coach will tell you that, at the end of the day, it’s rarely just about how strong an athlete is, but instead how powerful the athlete is. Here, Kimmich underscores this point, showing that emphasizing power development protocols – and not just maximal strength – is key to achieving and maintaining an elite level of performance.
Kimmich: “After the [training] units, I try to stretch, always paying attention to my body.”
In physical therapy circles, you’ll often hear the phrase “a stiff joint is a painful joint.” Whether we’re addressing flexibility or mobility, it is essential for an athlete to have great function and control through sport-specific ranges of motion. In the sports performance world, activities that address mobility and flexibility make up the foundation of a good performance training program (along with basic strength work), one that gives the athlete the best chance to be injury resistant on the way to performing elite actions of speed, power, and skill.
These “snap shots” into an elite athlete’s training program are riveting glimpses behind the scenes at the work that goes into the feats of athleticism we watch on match days. In Kimmich’s case, his comments reveal a remarkably well-rounded program, one that addresses multiple domains of performance, from high-power activities to ones that could even be called “prehabilitative” exercises. They say success leaves footprints, that there’s a reason the best are the best, and here was a unique look into the training program that has helped Kimmich become on the best right-backs in the world.