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Fitness For Football: How A Team Can Train For Endurance

At every level, a proper game of football requires a huge amount of fitness. It’s not enough to be fast in short bursts – each player should be capable of a 90 minute battle if they want to fend off the competition.

It’s not enough to just practice the game – a team needs to be put through tough endurance drills to make them match-fit. Only through proper training and useful sports nutrition can a player match the standards of Premier League athletes.

If you’d like to get your team into great shape, here are a few ways to do it:

Continuous training

Continuous training is easy to plan and doesn’t require much organisation – as it involves performing a set activity at a set pace for a sustained period – such as placing players on treadmills and setting levels of difficulty. There are a number of levels of continuous training, such as:

Work at 50-60% of your maximal work rate to help shed fat and use your aerobic system. Due to the lack of strong exertion, this tends to mean players can perform this for at least 60 minutes. For football teams, this is generally a game of football that lasts around 90 minutes.

If you step up the intensity to around 70-80% of a player’s work rate, they’ll begin to use glycogen – which means they’ll be able to keep the level up for 30-45 minutes.

Pushing training to 80-90% of its maximal work rate improves your entire cardiovascular system. You will see player’s lactate tolerance threshold increase as the aerobic system comes under heavy strain. This activity should only last for 10 to 20 minutes maximum and allow a good rest period. A heightened speed run on a treadmill can stimulate this max effort continuous period.

The training will enhance a body’s effectiveness in transporting oxygen from the lungs to the heart and from the heart to the muscles. However, moving at this level of an intensity for an extended period of time means you’ll need to ensure your players are consuming adequate post-workout nutrition. Despite the preconception that protein is for weightlifters, a protein shake can help a player’s muscles recover. 

Interval training

Fuel up your players with some energy bars or isotonic drinks to get them ready for this style of training – as it’ll push them to their limits. Interval training requires preparation, as you’ll need to define set intervals for each player on a squad. Realistically, this means defining a high intensity exercise and a lower intensity one – which will be added together to form one ‘rep’.

For example, making players jog gently between two cones for two laps and then sprint the next two would constitute interval training. Intervals give players an improved anaerobic glycolytic system by doing the following:

Intervals cause a build-up of lactic acid in the muscles.

As a result, the muscles will create an ‘oxygen debt.’

As you dip back into the low intensity portion of the workout, the body transports oxygen from the lungs and hearts to the muscles.

The ‘debt’ is repaid when the oxygen reaches the muscles, which circulates lactic acid out of the body.

Interval training builds lactic tolerance, which is very important for players as they head past half-time and into the deeper portions of the game.

Fartlek training

Fartlek training is more adhoc than interval but is very similar. Fartlek means ‘speed play’ in Swedish, and mimics a football game in that there are mixed periods of high and low intensity in the same session.

For example, the 10-20-30’s routine has a player jog at 30% effort for 30 seconds, then push to 60% for 20 seconds and then sprinting for the final 10 seconds. This exercise should be performed in a number of sets and can also factor in football training such as low intensity dribbling. 

As long as players take exercises seriously, you can use a mixture of continuous and intensity training to forge footballers into impressive athletes. Ensure players are getting adequate rest between sessions – you could issue ZMA’s to help improve their sleep. With dedicated training and plenty of live football practice, your team’s fitness levels will fly up. 

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