Soccer Legend David Beckham Shares the Workout Plan Keeping Him Ripped at 47
Nine years after hanging up his cleats, David Beckham may be busier than he was when he was kicking perfect crossing passes for Manchester United and the English national football team. He’s the co-owner of two soccer teams, has countless endorsements, and does philanthropic work for UNICEF—oh, and he’s still a busy dad. So his workout plan has had to change.
“My weekly routine is, you know, I get up to do the school run, and then I get the workout in and go into the office. I could never keep up with the level of the workouts I was doing when I was playing professional football. And obviously, I’m getting older now as well,” the now-47-year old says. Beckham says that he’s tried cycling, lifting, and lots of different modalities since retiring from the game in 2013, but he missed the team aspect of training as a footballer. “I need to train with people. I’m not very good at training on my own, so I need to be motivated by people in a community environment.”
To get some of that community vibe, Beckham has partnered with the high-intensity interval studio chain F45. He’s designed a class with celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson that the two say is based on the training methods the soccer star used when he was “bending it.” Peterson, who has worked with Olympians like Lindsey Vonn, athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB, as well as stars like Jennifer Lopez and Sylvester Stallone, says that even in his late 40s, Beckham’s multi-directional athleticism stands out—and is something regular guys should aim to emulate.
“His training, from what I’ve seen, is so comprehensive,” Peterson says of Beckham. “If you look at soccer, the change of direction, the multi-direction, and the multiple planes—there are certain shots that are off-balance, where your body’s in a different position or at different angles.
“Whether it’s reaching for your seatbelt or picking up something from the trunk of a car,” training these types of movements are also great for non-pros, he says.
The class Peterson and Beckham designed for F45 combines these types of movements into a high-intensity interval circuit: It’s 11 moves, each done for 2 sets each for 2 rounds. In the first set of each round, the exercises are done for 32 seconds, with 15 seconds of rest. In the second set, the work:rest ratio is 23 seconds on, 20 seconds off.
Beckham said that the resulting workout is one of the hardest he’s done since his playing career ended. “Some of these movements, I haven’t done them since I was a player. So when I was in the London studio doing this … at the end, I said, ‘I need to apologize to everyone that was in this class with me,’” because it was so hard, he says.
You can get a taste of Beckham’s class in your own gym. This four-exercise section is the “defenders” portion of the class, which is divided into chunks named for soccer positions. Perform each move for 32 seconds, then rest for 15. Do the same move for 23 seconds, then rest for 20, and go to the next move. Do this for every move, then repeat them all one more time.
Exercise 1: Single-Dumbbell or -Kettlebell Alternating Clean:
1. Stand holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of you with your right hand with an overhand grip. Keeping your weight in your heels, bend at your hips and knees so the weight hangs just outside your right knee.
2. From here, explode up: Shrug your shoulders and bring the weight up in a straight line to your shoulder and flip your wrist so you catch the weight in front of your right shoulder.
3. Reverse the move, switch hands, and repeat with the weight in your left hand.
Exercise 2: Barbell Romanian Deadlift with Underhand Row:
1. Stand with the barbell at your shins, your feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
2. Keeping a slight bend in your knees, push your hips back like you’re opening a door behind you with your butt. This starts the hip hinge. Keep pushing your hips back so your chest continues going towards the floor while you maintain a flat back. Grab the bar with an underhand grip.
3. Maintaining this flat back position, thrust your hips forward to stand back up.
4. Initiate the hip hinge again to lower the weight towards the floor while maintaining a flat back.
5. When the weight reaches your shins, row the bar up to your torso.
6. Reverse the row so your arms are straight, and stand back up.
7. Continue in this way: Lower forward, row, and stand back up.
Exercise 3: Dumbbell Box Drop with Forward Lunge:
1. Holding dumbbells at your sides, stand on a short step or plyo box.
2. Step off with one foot and drop, landing as if you’re trying to absorb a fall from a steep cliff—bend your knees and drop into a squat.
3. Stand back up, then take a lunge step forward with your right leg, descending as you step until your knees both form 90-degree angles.
4. Press through your right foot to stand back up.
5. Get back on the box and repeat, this time lunging forward with your left foot.
Exercise 4: Sandbag Sumo Squat to Biceps Curl to Shoulder Press:
1. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width, feet toed out to the sides, holding a sandbag in front of you with both hands at arm’s length.
2. Maintaining an upright torso, bend your knees to lower your butt towards the floor until your thighs are at least parallel with the floor.
3. Keep the weight in your heels, and stand back to the starting position.
4. Now bend your elbows to curl the weight up to your shoulders.
5. Without overextending your low back, press the weight overhead.
6. Bend your elbows to return the weight to your shoulders, then lower the weight back in front of you. That’s 1 rep. Repeat from step 1.
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