Inside Nketiah’s muscle-building summer workouts and high-calorie diet as the star builds up to carry Arsenal’s title load

MANCHESTER CITY awaiting the second coming of Jesus.

But on Friday they will fear a man who will be rewarded for keeping the faith.

Eddie Nketiah's new hulking physique is propelling Arsenal towards the title


Eddie Nketiah’s new hulking physique is propelling Arsenal towards the titlePhoto credit: Getty
The forward has put on some serious gains with a new diet and muscle-building workouts


The forward has put on some serious gains with a new diet and muscle-building workoutsCredit:

Eddie Nketiah has surpassed expectations after stepping up at Arsenal in the absence of the injured Gabriel Jesus, who was sold from City to the Gunners for £45million in the summer.

But that confidence Nketiah has shown – in his own abilities, in God and in the hard work he has put in over the past three years – proved key to making it happen.

The forward was finally awarded a specially made golden boot two weeks ago for becoming England Under-21s’ all-time goalscorer.

But despite those 16 goals in 17 games for the Young Lions, beating goals set by Alan Shearer and Francis Jeffers, some doubted he could be Arsenal’s captain.

A stunning – but crucially formative – loan spell at Leeds in 2019-20 under Marcelo Bielsa didn’t offer much encouragement.

And while he showed glimpses of cameos last season, he almost went for free before signing a new contract in June.

But Nketiah has capitalized on his recent chance by scoring six goals in as many games.

Observers will have noticed how 23-year-old Nketiah pays tribute to the Almighty in his post-game social media posts.


For example, after his match-winning double against Manchester United on Sunday, he tweeted: “What a night, love this team! All glory to God as always, let’s move on.”

Former Birmingham and Derby defender Michael Johnson coached Nketiah during his time with England Under-21s.

He is now the FA’s head of club engagements and was the man who gave Nketiah his U21 goalscoring gong.

When the 23-year-old spoke about the importance of religion, Johnson told SunSport: “He would be the first to tell you that this is the bedrock of who he is.

“It’s something that drove him and gave him the inner conviction to be who he is today.

“When you put it together with the hard work he’s put in and his skill, it can make you a really formidable force where you can get through periods when you haven’t played and you still see the positive Side of things, you’re still training at the same intensity, you still think you’re the main character.”

Nketiah scored a dramatic winner for Arsenal against Man Utd last weekend


Nketiah scored a dramatic winner for Arsenal against Man Utd last weekendCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun


Much of that “hard work” has been transforming his physique from a lean forward to a muscular frontman over the past three years.

In 2019, his parents googled Chris Varnava’s strength and conditioning company Athletic Development Club, whose happy clients included Rio Ferdinand and John Terry.

Nketiah has worked with Varnavas ever since, in addition to his day-to-day life at Arsenal. The results are eye-catching.

Most of the work to strengthen the striker has been done by pumping iron in the off-season at Varnavas’ gym in Cockfosters, north London.

But they’ve also worked on his diet, sleep, lifestyle and recovery and kept in touch regularly throughout the season.

Interestingly, Varnavas told SunSport, “When Eddie first came to us, he was actually undereating.”


After realizing this, the strength and conditioning team put him on a 3,000 to 3,500 calorie per day diet.

He took part in a program called hypertrophy training over the summer, in which the sessions become progressively more intense to build more muscle.

His increased strength helped him head home his first goal against United – and his improved mobility was fundamental to his clinical finish against West Ham on Boxing Day.

Johnson remarked, “We’ve all seen how tall he is, but not only has he dressed in it, he moves in it well.” It improved him, it didn’t slow him down.”

Varnavas, who used to work at QPR as a strength and conditioning coach and coaches other Arsenal and Spurs players, says Nketiah’s mindset has been key to his success.

He added: “What I like about Eddie is that he’s very humble. He takes his instructions really well.

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“Even when he first came to us when he was in the first team but maybe on the bench here and there, he had an inner belief in himself that he could be Arsenal’s main striker. He never doubted his self-worth.”

Nketiah has clearly always believed in himself – and now others believe in him too. Inside Nketiah’s muscle-building summer workouts and high-calorie diet as the star builds up to carry Arsenal’s title load


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