With pre-season training in full swing, head of fitness and conditioning Ryland Morgans lifts the lid on how exactly the players will get in peak condition for the start of the campaign in an exclusive interview with Liverpoolfc.com.
Ryland, you've had a few days to assess the players' fitness after the summer - how are they looking?
Very good. I've been really pleased with how they returned from their breaks. They all went away with an off-season plan and it's pleasing to see they stuck to that. In terms of their return condition, it's really good.
What kind of impact does the summer break have on a player's fitness and how long until they're back in peak condition?
It can go either way. If players just take a complete rest for six weeks, generally their bodies will adapt to any stimulus - whether that's an increased stimulus or a decreased stimulus. That will adapt within a two-week period, so in six weeks they've got three times that, so if they did nothing during that time it would take us over eight weeks to get them to the level we require. It's a significant period, but they've stuck to their off-season programmes and maintained certain components of fitness.
What kind of components did those programmes contain?
General aerobic capacity so when they come into pre-season, we can start working on that as a basis in terms of their high-intensity work. There was also strength-based - predominantly gym-based - work so when they come back, it allows us to develop that and transfer that strength from the gym into more functional-type strength movements on the grass.
What kind of things were the lads doing during their first week back in pre-season?
On the first morning, they undertook some medical screenings with Zaf [Iqbal], some basic tests with me and then an adaption session that afternoon, which was a lighter version of what they were doing towards the end of the week. We've gradually progressed the intensities and volumes of work they've been doing.
Presumably, that will continue to happen over the coming weeks?
Yes. The volume and intensity of key physical variables that we monitor during training will get increased. As pre-season progresses, the volume will drop slightly in order to allow us to develop the intensity of the training.
What kind of split is there at this stage of pre-season between ball work and cardiovascular work?
For us, in terms of how the manager works and how that filters down into everything we do because it's a global approach, the footballs are out on the very first day. There's a physical emphasis to all of our training - all the way through the season not just in pre-season - but there is a larger percentage of conditioning-type work through the pre-season period.
What kind of role has sports science played in devising the programmes for each individual player?
A large part. As I said, each player took away an individual conditioning programme for the off-season based on their individual needs. As we progress through pre-season, we'll be monitoring players for key variables which will allow us to make sure we can tailor any specific conditioning needs the players will have. It [sports science] is key.
There's obviously been a lot of hard work gone on at Melwood over the last few days, but how important is it that players enjoy what they're doing?
It's a significant factor. You always want to see players doing what you want them to do but with a smile on their face. What you'll probably see watching any given session is that there is a lot of variety - and I think players enjoy that in their training sessions.
We watched the lads undertake a 'yo-yo' test on their first day back. Can you tell us who won?
There was no 'winner' in that one, unfortunately! It's just a standard set block of work which allows us to monitor their heart-rate response in relation to that period of work. We can then do that periodically throughout pre-season to assess how players are responding in an aerobic capacity, basically giving a measure of their fitness.
Finally, we've made four new signings so far this summer. How have Kolo Toure, Simon Mignolet, Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto looked in training so far?
Very good. The way we train is different to what they're used to, but I think they're quick learners and they're going to physically adapt quickly as pre-season progresses.