“If you don’t grind, you don’t shine,” says Clint Dempsey. “That is the one thing I have always been about, working hard and making the most out of every day. Putting in the work has allowed me to be successful. I have to stay strong throughout the whole season and finish up well. I know that training is important, and without devoting myself to it, I wouldn’t be where I am. That’s why I do this day in and day out.”
Doing work has propelled Dempsey to the pinnacle of his sport, both in the States and abroad. As a forward on the U.S. Men’s National Team, he is one of the most dangerous players on the American attack. At the 2010 World Cup, he was the sparkplug for Team USA, scoring the goal heard ’round the world to earn a tie with England and excelling again in the match against Algeria, when he attacked the goal to set up Landon Donovan’s game-winning score.
When not decked out in Red, White and Blue, the Texas native is living his lifelong dream of playing overseas for the English Premier League club, Fulham. His 33 Premier League goals are the most ever scored by an American player.
Dempsey’s aggressive style of play, coupled with the grind of playing two seasons in one year, takes a toll on his body, especially his legs—which is why Dempsey dedicates time before each training session to a warm-up routine designed to help eliminate soreness, maintain flexibility and stimulate his muscles.
Below are some key exercises comprising Dempsey’s dynamic warm-up and stretching routine.
Perform two sets of the following movements over a 20-yard distance.
45-Degree Walking Lunge
- Step forward diagonally with right leg
- Lower into lunge position until back knee is just above ground
- Step forward into even stance
- Lunge forward diagonally with left leg
- Repeat for specified distance
- Perform one shuffle diagonally right, then shuffle diagonally left
- Continue pattern in rhythmic fashion
- Begin running and gradually accelerate to top speed
Hold the following stretches for 15-20 seconds; repeat on opposite side.
- Assume lunge position, allowing back knee to rest on ground
- Push hips forward and hold position
- Sit on ground with left leg extended straight and right leg bent with foot pulled toward groin
- Reach toward extended foot and hold position
- Standing on one leg, pull the other foot toward butt
- Lying on ground, cross left leg over right and place left foot flat on ground outside of right thigh
- Rotate to right and hold position
Photos: Danny Vega