Real Madrid players were seen sprinting with futuristic masks on their faces upon their return to pre-season training at their Valdebebas base, but what are they being used for? GOAL has the details.
The likes of Vinicius Junior and David Alaba were all seen carrying out conditioning and workload drills with heavy masks on their faces as instructed by Antonio Pintus, the Los Blancos' fitness coach.
The physical trainer has made elaborate plans for Carlo Ancelotti's troops so that they can fight on all fronts at the business end of the season with little difficulty by remaining in the best possible shape.
Why are Real Madrid players wearing masks in training?
The masks, which have been compared to the one worn by Bane in the blockbuster 2012 Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, are primarily used to simulate the effects of training at altitude. The test results will help Pintus chalk out a training plan tailored for every individual according to their requirements.
The Madrid coach is known for his revolutionary fitness and training methods, which aim to bring out the best from his players. It is not the first time that he is using these elaborate face covers in training.
During the 2021 pre-season, he used the same props to push the players the extra mile. Even in January 2022, before their Copa del Rey clash against Athletic Club, the Madrid players were subjected to similar fitness tests while wearing a mask and a backpack.
What has Pintus said about the Real Madrid squad's use of masks?
Pintus has explained how the unique fitness test works in an interview with Real Madrid TV, saying: "The test is carried out using a mask with a layer 5 system. It is certainly not hypoxia training. It's a test designed to find out the players' aerobic and anaerobic thresholds and their current power.
"The mask works to analyse oxygen and carbohydrates. We need to know the percentage of one and the other in order to determine the player's condition at the moment."
The Madrid coach continued: "The result helps to personalise or at least give some direction to the work the team is doing.
"Pre-season training is based on an aerobic foundation of long runs which is then used hand in hand with the direction and objective of shorter and faster runs."
What is Pintus' training plan for Real Madrid ahead of the World Cup?
The 2022-23 campaign will be unique in its own way due to the FIFA World Cup that is set to start on November 21, 2022. Real Madrid have around 15 players who might head to Qatar for the marquee event, with the remainder of the squad set to continue to train at Valdebebas.
Pintus has devised separate training plans as the two sets of players will require a significantly different conditioning approach from each other.
"The break in training in November due to the World Cup will be good for me because we can do another pre-season and work a little bit more for the players who stay behind," he said. "It will be different for the players who're going to the World Cup.
"They'll have to rest one hundred per cent when they come back and then return to work gradually. It's going to be completely different for the two groups."