Roque Oller



Even NASA want the lowdown on the Real fitness coach's training secrets


Real Madrid’s fitness coach,  Antonio Pintus, is a key figure in Los Blancos’ backroom team. He’s had a  big hand in the team’s successes.

Pintus is no ordinary fitness guru -  and his exacting, innovative methods have even caught the attention of NASA, the US’s space agency.

Known by footballers as the ‘iron sergeant’, the 61-year-old develops science-based training regimes adapted to each of his players’ needs.

In November, NASA invited Pintus for a visit so it could get to know the Italian’s methods better, and to share its astronauts’ training regimes with him.

The agency hoped to learn things  from the Madrid coach that could be useful to its astronauts’ preparations for future space missions.

These ‘hypoxia masks’ are one of Pintus’ favourite pieces of kit: by simulating high-altitude conditions, they’re supposed to improve stamina.

Such methods are integral to  Pintus’ aim of ensuring his players reach the business end of the  season in the best shape possible.

Part of the coaching staff for Madrid’s three straight UCL wins, he briefly left the club - but returned in 2021 to up the fitness of an injury-prone squad.

According to a 2021 CIES Football Observatory study, Spain’s  league is the world’s most physically demanding - so Pintus’ work is key.

His methods may not be fun, but players are grateful to him. "Pintus loves to kill us, and that's his job,” Jude Bellingham says. “I love him.”