Soccer is a mostly aerobic sport that requires players to recover their breath as quickly as possible after sprinting for a ball. As such, there is a need for intensive cardio training and aerobic conditioning. It also requires explosive strength, especially when you need to block a shot or jump to head a ball.
But what if you can’t train outside? How can you make sure you’re match fit for your next game? Head on over to the gym to get the training you need! You can train for soccer using the equipment and weights you find in a fitness center or gym.
At the gym, you’ll be able to focus on building speed and power, getting stronger and more flexible, enhancing endurance and agility and generally getting the basics down pat. So when it’s time to hit the pitch, you’ll be more than ready. Here’s what you need to work on in the gym to improve your overall soccer performance.
To be match fit for soccer, you should develop a good aerobic base. Soccer demands a lot from a player; if you’re an outfielder you probably run up to 8 miles or 13 kilometres during a 90-minute game. In a game, you’ll be doing a lot of walking, jogging, sprinting and running at full speed. To train for endurance, incorporate varying levels of low- and high-intensity activities into your soccer fitness programme for best results.
For aerobic fitness during the off-season, use a rowing machine, exercise bike, elliptical or a treadmill. Adjust the resistance and incline to increase or decrease the intensity. Make sure you have a two-minute rest period before the next sprint or set.
To meet the demands of soccer, you’ll need to build muscle, especially your lower body muscular groups. Lifting weights is one way to do this, especially in the off-season. Perform exercises such as leg presses, hamstring curls, squats and deadlifts. These exercises target the hip flexors, hamstrings, calves and quadriceps, all of which you’ll need to develop to be match fit.
As soccer season gets closer, start training your muscles for endurance. Do exercises that feature more reps with lighter weights.
If you’re not strong enough, you likely won’t have enough speed and power to last a whole game. Remember, the stronger you are, the faster you’ll be. Holding off opponents, blocking balls, jumping, kicking and even resisting injury all require a strong body. When you do strength training, you’ll have more energy, improved agility and balance, a faster metabolism and a faster recovery time.
Focus on functional, compound exercises such as push-ups, lunges, chin-ups, dips, step-ups and and squats. Use free weights and your own bodyweight as resistance. Even something as simple as box squats can help bigtime in developing strength. To do box squats, start out in a seated position then stand up to lift the weight on your shoulders. These exercises build explosive strength, which soccer players need when making a powerful move. For example, goalies need explosive strength to lunge for a ball heading its way toward a goal.
Work on all major muscle groups while focusing on your core and lower body. Make sure to also include plyometric and reactive power exercises, where you use more than one muscle to create a movement. Do exercises such as sprinting and skipping. Jump off a box then jump up again as soon as you hit the floor.
Flexibility training is another major component of a well-rounded soccer fitness programme. When you have a wide range of motion available to you, you’ll be able to execute kicks, blocks and other moves to help your team win a game.
Integrate flexibility training to your gym routine by performing a dynamic warm-up with arm circles, high knees, bodyweight squats and walking lunges before working out. Instead of passive stretching that can increase risk of injury, do active stretching, which requires you to use your own muscular effort for holding a position.
Training in the off-season
Prepare a weekly gym programme during the off-season. It should include two days for strength training and one day for endurance and speed. Schedule two to three endurance or cardio training sessions too, focusing on hill running or short sprint intervals.
Do circuit training to develop strength for all major groups while building endurance. What we like about circuit workouts is that each exercise is designed to use large muscle groups while incorporating a good amount of aerobic intensity and resistance. Make good use of the gym’s circuit training facilities so you can be at your best when soccer season arrives.