Footballers run over 10km during a game and most are back training the next day. Want to get football fit? Just follow these guidelines.
1. BUILD STRENGTH WITH HIGH IMPACT
A game lasts 90 minutes, but you’re not running at one pace for the whole game. You need to be able to sprint 5 or 10 yards, then 20 seconds later do another.
Try 20 to 40-minute intervals that mimic the game: 4 to 5 sets of 4-minute high-intensity blasts, with 2 or 3 minutes to recover. Also try two sets of running from the edge of one penalty box to the other with 15 second breaks in between.
2. GET STRONG GLUTES
When you think sprinting, you might think you need strong legs. But to be a good sprinter you need string glutes too.
The Single Leg Russian Deadlift (RDL)
Stand with both feet shoulder width apart, pull up the toes of your left leg, and keeping that leg straight, take your left leg back, bending at your hips, and reach your hands straight down to the floor. Keep your right leg straight with your knee soft until your left leg is parallel to the floor. Return your left leg to the floor. Repeat the movement with your right leg. Make sure you hinge at the hips. Do 8 reps each leg. Rest for 2 minutes and do 3 sets in total. You could try this with a football in your hands.
3. WHEN IN DOUBT, PLANK
You need a strong core to decelerate and accelerate effectively. One of the best ways to get a strong core is with a basic plank.
Lie face down on the mat. Place your forearms on the mat, elbows under shoulders. Place your legs together with your forefeet on the floor then raise your body upward by straightening your body in a straight line. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then rest and lower to the floor. Rest for a minute and do it 3 to 5 times. You’ll eventually be able to hold it for 60 seconds.
4. BALANCE FOR DEFENCE
Building strong balance is an important aspect of defense. Football coaches incorporate upper body and balance exercises so players can shield the ball or hold off the force of other players during a game. Try single-leg balancing.
Stand on your right leg with your left foot off the floor, pull a football with the sole of your left foot around your body without putting that foot down. When the ball is back to the start, switch legs. Do 6 to 8 reps on each leg. Complete 2 to 3 sets.
5. SPEEDWORK IMPROVES REACTIONS
Start with a different Speedwork cue every time. Try having someone stand behind you and sprint when they tap your back or wait until a ball is dropped or a whistle blown. You should be ready to react at any time.
To get truly game ready try this weekly football fitness plan:
Match Day. Play then relax.
Active recovery. Try cycling for 15-20 minutes at 60% of your maximum heart rate.
Extended Recovery: Light football workout, the focus is on making sure players are fully recovered 48 hours after the game, which is often when tiredness and delayed onset muscle soreness sets in.
AM: High-intensity football work. Try short games with small team sizes, or a man-to-man game where you have to stick with one opponent wherever he goes.
PM: Strength and power. Squats, deadlifts, bench presses and pull-ups.
AM: Moderate/high intensity football. Drills and 11-versus-11 tactical play.
PM: Power building and complex training. This is a mixture of strength and plyometric work designed to develop explosiveness. The focus is typically on low reps at high speed, such as power cleans and hurdle jumps.
Rest day/Day off.
Low-intensity football work with speed training, eg short shuttle runs. Tactical build up before the big match.
Nutrition. Eat healthily and try recovery drinks like protein shakes and smoothies.
If you’re more into rugby and want to get ‘rugby fit’ then check out this rugby article.