Benzema: How Real Madrid man unlocked his full potential
Karim Benzema's form for Real Madrid owes much to changes he made to his fitness regime, and to the happiness he has found off the field.
A little over a year ago, Karim Benzema turned 30 - a milestone that changed the Real Madrid striker's outlook, both personally and professionally.
Made changes to fitness regime ahead of 30th birthday
Aware that he was entering a period in which, as an elite athlete, he needed to look after himself better than ever if he was to have the kind of physique that he required, at the beginning of the 2016/17 season the Frenchman overhauled his training routine with one eye on the landmark birthday, and began to focus on specific work aimed at strengthening several areas of his muscle structure.
The chief effect of the regime, adopted under the guidance of club specialists (including fitness coach Antonio Pintus) has been to leave Benzema with leaner muscles that weigh less. This has not only made him a quicker, stronger, more explosive player, but, having shed five kilos of muscle mass, it means he also now boasts a body that is lither and more injury-resistant.
Benzema swears by his new methods, which even include wearing an electrostimulation jacket, and has followed them religiously ever since turning to them. The results are there to be seen: even when, up until recently, the rest of the Madrid squad appeared to be struggling physically this term, he looked in fine fettle; he has done throughout the season.
Home life has also had effect on Benzema's football
His development as a person has also had a major impact. Now married with children, he is happier and more settled than ever, and is relishing the responsibility of bringing up his two young kids, Melia and Ibrahim - something which has translated onto the field of play, where, as one of Madrid's vice-captains, he has emerged as the leader of the attack since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure.
And, of course, there is no getting away from all that Benzema has learned in his nine and a half seasons as a Madrid player, and the fact that he has only been made stronger by the obstacles he has had to overcome. His dream was always to make himself a success at the Bernabéu, and it is a dream he is certainly realising.