Physique training for footballers isn’t quite as simple as you’d expect. Which muscles matter the most? How bulky or lean should I be? Which exercises would benefit me the most? Strength, or stamina? Or both?
Unfortunately for the 99% of us out there playing the beautiful game over the weekend, we can’t afford to hire a daily personal trainer and physio to advise and help us with our health. However, here’s some basic tips on training in the gym when you’re a football player.
DON’T OVER-FOCUS ON AEROBIC EXCERCISES
A large portion of football players seem to think that basic, linear fitness training is the master key to having that professional footballer stamina, that will have you barely breaking a sweat by the full-time whistle. Aerobic exercises seem to be the classic turn-to method for those that want to be able to run for 90 minutes straight. The truth is, the majority of the time spent in football games is split between short sprints, and then a slow walk or jog into position. It isn’t a continuous period of time in which you remain at a steady state. This is why it’s so important not to over-focus on simple fitness methods as jogging.
Exercises such as hill sprints and interval training can take you to a whole other level of football fitness. These exercises speed up and slow down your heart rate and breathing in turn, and at particular intervals, much like an actual match. These methods much replicate real-life game situations, so ensure that you’re fitting these into your routines.
The reality is, that endless bicep curls or tricep extensions just aren’t going to be that beneficial to your performance on the pitch. Compound movements engage a large number of muscles all at once, building overall strength and endurance quicker and in more key areas of your body that you would use in a match, such as your quads, core, and back.
Exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and dumb-bell step-ups engage large areas of your body and build up impressive strength in your legs and core, allowing you to improve the power and energy released by muscles in common movements within the game. Squats will improve your kicking power, and the energy released when pushing off, which can in turn improve your speed and acceleration.
Dumb-bell step ups have also been identified as an extremely efficient exercise in improving the pushing power in your legs and shoulders, allowing you to jump better to secure those headers.
BUILD EXPLOSIVE POWER
As said above, football games are mostly frequent short moments of raw reaction and power, followed by periods of less-intense and calmer moments.
It is important to build explosive power so that you can take advantage of these snapshot moments whether it be bursting into space, leaping above an opposition player to win the header, or knocking away a player attempting to jostle you off the ball.
Exercises such as burpees, skipping, box jumps, and medicine ball throws allow your muscles to build an impressive explosive power when required.