What are Cristiano Ronaldo’s diet, workout and fitness secrets?

The Al Nassr star is renowned for being one of the most athletic players in football history, but how did he attain his top condition?

There is no player in world football that has drawn more plaudits for his physical qualities and dedication to his craft than Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Al Nassr and Portugal star boasts an extraordinary set of athletic skills, combining rapid pace and agility with elite aerial ability and power.

Ronaldo was not born with those traits, though; the rippling physique we see today is a marked transformation from the skinny teenager that arrived at Manchester United from Sporting back in 2003.

So how was the incredible athlete and five-time Ballon d’Or winner created? With the help of 15 fitness tips Ronaldo revealed himself, GOAL takes a look at the secrets behind his strength and speed.

How does Cristiano Ronaldo train?

First thing’s first: start with a warm-up to decrease the risk of injury. “In training we do a few laps of the pitch, stretching and cardio warm-up exercises,” Ronaldo explains.

“Make sure you do something similar in your training, even if it is jogging to the gym or a warm up on the treadmill or bicycle.”

When in the gym, Ronaldo’s main workout is split between cardiovascular training – such as running and rowing – and weights. “Mix it up,” Ronaldo advises – as well as keeping things interesting, it’s important to ensure all areas of the body are targeted and exercises improve both strength and stamina.

On the pitch, the focus is on high-intensity drills that reflect match situations. “We do a lot of sprinting drills in training and they can be incorporated into your workout whether you are in the gym or outdoors,” Ronaldo says. “Try and add it to every workout you do.”

Workouts are not restricted to the time Ronaldo spent at training facilities, though. “Fit in exercise wherever you can,” he adds.

“You can do an abs workout in your bedroom when you wake up in the morning or before you go to bed. If you get into a routine then it makes it easier as it will become a habit.”

Cristiano Ronaldo Juventus Real Madrid Champions League 2017-18

What food does Cristiano Ronaldo eat?

There’s no point having the nicest car if you’re not going to put the right fuel in it.

Ronaldo, unsurprisingly, takes his diet very seriously. “A good workout must be combined with a good diet,” he states. “I eat a high protein diet, with lots of wholegrain carbs, fruit and vegetables, and avoid sugary foods.”

The Portugal international has a personal dietician who has worked with him ever since his Real Madrid days, eating six small meals a day – or one every three to four hours.

He particularly likes fish – particularly swordfish, sea bass and sea bream – and his favourite dish is bacalhau a braz, which is a mixture of cod, onions, thinly sliced potatoes and scrambled eggs. He also eats plenty of fruits and lean proteins. At restaurants, Ronaldo says he often orders steak and a salad, and never anything frozen – everything he eats is fresh.

For his breakfast, Ronaldo is partial to the likes of cheese, ham, low-fat yoghurt alongside plenty of fruit as well as avocado toast.

“Eat regularly,” Ronaldo continues. “If you train regularly it’s important to keep energy levels high to fuel your body for better performance. I sometimes eat up to six smaller meals a day to make sure I have enough energy to perform each session at top level.”

Hydration is vital, too – “drinking water is so important,” Ronaldo affirms – but one of the sacrifices he makes to keep his body in top condition is avoiding alcohol and carbonated drinks.

In 2021, he hit headlines for a disdainful assessment of soft drink Coca-Cola at Euro 2020, urging people to “drink water” instead. 

What cheat meals does Cristiano Ronaldo eat?

Even the most muscular athletes have ‘cheat’ days, with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson among those popularising his on Instagram, and Ronaldo is no different.

However, while The Rock may regularly indulge in a stack of sugary pancakes at the end of the week, Ronaldo’s ‘cheat’ meals are a little tamer.

Pizza is about the height of Ronaldo’s cheat meal and, according to former Manchester United goalkeeper Lee Grant, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner tends to eschew most sweet options, including desserts at a team meal.

“You finish your dinner and usually on a Friday night you’ve got some cheat stuff out. You’ve got some apple crumble or you’ve got a bit of brownie and cream or what not,” said Grant.

“I tell you now, not one player touched the apple crumble and custard, not one player went up for that brownie because everybody was sat down and one of the lads said to me, ‘What has Cristiano got on his plate?’

“So we were having a little goosey gander at what he has got and obviously it is the cleanest, most healthy plate you can imagine. It just cracked me up how not one single player dared get up and have that junk food that was laid out.”

What other secrets does Cristiano Ronaldo have?

Healthy living is not something that Ronaldo dedicates a few hours to each day – it’s a way of life he adheres to at all times.

Discipline

That is not only a physical challenge but a mental one, too. “Learn to train your mind as well as your body,” Ronaldo says. “Mental strength is just as important as physical strength and will help you achieve your goals.

“Be disciplined. Keeping yourself motivated and sticking to your routine is key. For me, there is no room for easing off, so I have to be strict.”

You can help yourself by setting goals and working with a training partner, adding competitiveness and company to your routine.

When he is not exercising Ronaldo tries to maintain a relaxed, restful lifestyle despite his massive fame and the attention he commands.

“Training and physical sessions are most important, but living a relaxed lifestyle helps you to be the best you can be, physically and mentally,” Ronaldo explains. “I spend my free time with family and friends, which keeps me relaxed and in a positive mindset.”

Regular naps

Something unique in Ronaldo’s fitness regime is that he does not sleep for the traditional eight hours a day. Rather, instead, he chooses to take five 90-minute naps a day.

Says Professor Littlehales in his book “Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps… and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind“: it is better for athletes to take five naps each day consisting of 90 minutes each instead of a full night’s sleep.

According to the Daily Mail, Ronaldo takes this advice of forced rest seriously and it even became a running gag with a celebration when he was in his second spell at Manchester United.

Cold therapy & heat therapy

Like many athletes in the 21st century, Ronaldo is someone who takes his recovery periods very seriously and a part of this is cryotherapy, or cold-temperature therapy.

This can take the form of using a cryochamber, where temperatures are managed at a very low level or ice baths.

As well as cold therapy, it is not unusual to see Ronaldo partake in heat therapy too, whether that is spending time in a sauna or using heat massage tools.


Best products to help you train like Cristiano Ronaldo

We independently choose all products featured on our site. When you purchase something through the links provided, we may earn a commission.

Ultrasport F-Bike bicycle trainer

Best exercise bicycle

Ultrasport F-Bike bicycle trainerUltrasport

If you’re looking for an exercise bicycle that is affordable and will help you train like Ronaldo – you’re going to love this option from Ultrasport. It’s a great one for home gyms as you can easily assemble and disassemble it for any space. It’s amazing for muscle and endurance training so you can boss your next football training session.

Reasons to buy:

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Phoenix Fitness Dumbbells Weight Set 

Best weights

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Weight training is an essential part of any football players’ fitness regimes. If you’re looking to get started then there’s nothing better than this Phoenix Fitness weights set. It is a two-in-one dumbbell and barbell set, which includes a pair of 0.5kg handles with four 2.5kg plates, 1kg plates, spinlock collars, and a locking bar.

Reasons to buy:

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Proform Unisex 440 R Rower

Best rowing machine

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Work out both your arms and legs with this ProForm rower, great for home gyms and workout spaces. The adjustable ergonomic seat and handles make it a comfortable machine and the large LCD screen showcases strokes per minute and plenty more data.

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NordicTrack T Series Treadmill

Best treadmill

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Treadmills are a great way to start off any workout routine, and if you watch any of the behind-the-scenes football documentaries that have become popular, they’re a key part of any training ground. This NordicTrack treadmill has all the elite features athletes love. We’re talking about a smart-response monitor for effective speed, innovative space-saver design, smart Onetouch speed and a library of on-demand workouts.

Reasons to buy:

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YNXing Load Strength Training Set 

Best sprint training set

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Resistance training is a great way to work out your core and calf muscles. This complete sprinting set includes a sprint harness, waist buckle, and a resistant rope that can stretch up to 50ft. It’s a great resistant training technique also to help football players become strong runners and maximize strength in key areas.

Reasons to buy:

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H&S Abdominal Exercise Roller

Best Abs Training Product

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Looking to build up some core strength? This roller wheel provides a durable, lightweight companion to help solidify muscles around the abs region, assisting exercise. Throw in an extra-thick padded mat for knee support, and this is one tidy package that will complement any home workout.

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Check out GOAL’s guide of the Best home workout equipment for more product recommendations.