Looking at professional soccer players gives a lot of athletes at all levels inspiration to be the best they can be. As cliché as that sounds, it is impossible to be a top-level pro soccer player without training the right way.
Hard work and dedication plays a considerable role, and the great thing about soccer is that people do not have to win the genetic lottery to have success. While goalies tend to be on the taller side, there are plenty of successful soccer players of all heights, shapes, and sizes in the field.
What is the secret to success? To be successful in soccer, training a specific way will lead to success. Focus on specific types of training will yield faster results overall. Here is a breakdown of how most pro soccer players train and how you can do the same.
1. Training With The Team
Most professional soccer players have about 5 soccer sessions/week and 3-4 organized gym sessions every week. It obviously depends a lot depending on the league/club, all teams have their unique training schedule. However, that is a rough estimate on how most clubs schedule their trainings during the offseason. When the season starts, the gym sessions are more focused on recovery rather than strength. If you are curious about what kind of exercises they do in the gym, check out this post.
When the season starts, some teams keep those 5 soccer sessions, but reduces the intensity, while others go down to 4/week. But, all of that depends how tough the match schedule is the upcoming weeks.
This is how most teams schedule their organized trainings. However, most players train a lot on their own. Which I will go more in depth below.
2. Interval Training
This method of training is something that mimics the way soccer is played very closely. At the end of each match, professional players end up logging multiple miles per game, even if the match is relatively slow-paced. However, a lot of that mileage comes in specific intervals, which means training that way makes the most amount of sense.
The beauty of interval training is that it is a specific type of exercise that puts together short periods of intense effort, with set periods of rest in between each set. Think of this in soccer terms as a player walking up and down the field when they are not involved in the particular play. Then, they are forced to sprint all out for a ball coming towards them.
If it seems like interval training is a very broad term, that is because there are so many different ways to implement it with offseason or even in-season training. For speed workouts, soccer players will do various levels of sprints with rest time in between. To build up the legs a bit more, running uphill can be a slight variation that works well.
Be more creative during the offseason with distances and other challenges along the way. During the middle of the season, keep it simple and as much like a soccer match as possible. This prevents the legs from becoming too sore.
- Mimics how soccer matches flow very well
- Burns fat quickly
- Enough variation to keep people motivated
- So intense that it workouts can only be a few times per week
- Hard to do much interval training in season
3. Core Workouts
It is easy to overlook the core when working out for any sport, but soccer is one that depends very much on having the strength in the middle of the body. It is part of a strong foundation with great legs, and helps players explode around the field.
The core is a fairly broad term with the body, as it is all the muscles from the trunk to the torso in the body. It helps to stabilize everything, but people also work on their core to have a fabulous looking physique.
Soccer players who do not focus on training their core are not going to be able to take contact as well in the middle of a match. Players are continually trying to knock their opponent off of the ball, and even making simple cuts can prove to be problematic if the core is not stable.
The good news is that a core workout is fairly easy to get done, even without any type of workout equipment whatsoever. Everyone knows about sit-ups and crunches that they can do at home, but leg raises, Russian twists, planks, and so much more can be done without anything more than just some space.
For a more intense core exercise, add some weight to these workouts. Most soccer players are going to stay with high repetitions and lower weight to do as many reps as possible. This helps a little bit with conditioning as well, so it is nice to put some effort into it that way.
- Strong foundation for the entire body
- Easy to get a core workout in anywhere
- Many different exercises
- Feels a bit tedious at times
4. Lower Body Work
While having a strong body overall is essential for soccer, legs are extremely important area to focus on for players to have success. The top players are always going to do some work with their upper body, but lower body lifting is the main focus when in the gym. This means everything from doing squats and lunges with weights, all the way to plyometrics with the body.
Just like with everything else with soccer players, this is not about putting up the most amount of weight possible when loading up the squat rack. Instead, the focus is on having a lot of sets and reps within those sets to get things going. Volume lifting matters just as much to soccer players as trying to set rep records.
For example, when taking the volume lifting approach, ten reps of 200 pounds is equal to 2000 pounds total. It is smarter for soccer players to focus on an easier weight they can do 8-15 reps of at a time, instead of attempting to max out. Doing five reps of 400 pounds might make sense for some lifters, but not for soccer players.
The weight should be cut down even more when doing leg workouts during the middle of a season. It is more about recovery and maintenance in the middle of the season, so do not try to set any records. The weightlifting programs can intensify once there is a break in the action, allowing the legs to recover a day or two after each tough workout.
5. Balance Exercises, Yoga & More
This is hardly an intense work out for people out there, but yoga and working on general balance can pay off in a big way for a lot of aspiring soccer players out there. Watch a full match, and there is a lot of balance needed during the 90 minutes to pull off moves. From kicking a ball to pulling off a key jump, keeping the body balanced and ready to move at all times is essential.
Yoga is included under this, as there are some specific positions that can help players out. It is also a great recovery type of workout for those off days after something more intense.
Like core workouts, a lot of training with balance can be done without any other additional equipment. Some people even do this type of training at the field, because they can incorporate the ball in some ways. Try to focus on building on both legs with balance, as people are always looking for some keys to success as far as that is concerned.
As mentioned above, it is important to make sure that arms are not ignored completely. It might not be as important to work on the arms specifically, but even something as simple as push-ups and other body exercises will work. Players need to be strong with their upper body so that they can power through with their runs, and also play a physical type of soccer.
Keeping up with training for soccer in some capacity is a major key to long-term success. While every person needs some rest time for their body, it is important not to get out of shape too much. The longer people put off training, the harder it is to get back into tip-top shape.
Finally, do not underestimate the power of simply playing soccer as an excellent training workout as well. Each match is very long, and players are logging some pretty impressive distances overall. Sometimes, playing soccer matches consistently is going to keep a typical player in great shape. It is that training during the off-season that will move a players ability into a new stratosphere.