Soccer Conditioning Plan

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Soccer Conditioning Plan

Let’s face it, most people workout to get a better body. But with this plan, you can not only build the body of a soccer player, but get the conditioning of a soccer player to go along with it.

And for ectomorphs (hardgainer types) like me, the athletic body of a soccer player is more realistic than building the body of a linebacker. And hey, soccer players get some pretty good recognition for their bodies, too.

OK, back to some theory, before we get into the program.

Before you can even begin to decide how to train for a sport, you need to know what the physical (metabolic) requirements are. This is called the principle of specificity. Here are some numbers for you:

A soccer player, in any given 90 minute game will approximately:

Walk for 26% of the game, or about 2600 meters
Jog 49%, or 4900 meters
Cruise 17%, 1700 meters
Sprint 8%, 800 meters
and have the ball for less than 2%, 180 meters.

In other words, a soccer player travels about 10k in one game!

This gives you an idea how much you should be focusing on each component. You should be training for aerobic endurance about 75% of the time, and anaerobically only about 25%. This also gives you an idea on how to structure your training with respect to interval times and distance.

That doesn’t mean that 75% of your workouts need to be aerobically based, but 75% of the volume of the workouts should be.

Based on the analysis, here is the breakdown of training. Keep in mind this may or may not be for you depending on your age, training history, injury history, level of play, and many other variables.

Aerobic Training:
80-90% HR Max, 6-30min per rep, 1-8 reps with no more than 1 min rest. (rest should be a walk — you would never stand still in a game)

Lactate Threshold Training (Anaerobic Lactic):
>85% HR Max, 3-6 minutes per rep, 4-8 Reps with a 1:0.5 to 1:1 work to rest ratio. In other words if you were to perform a rep that lasted 3 minutes, your rest would be anywhere from 1.5 min to 3 minutes.

Anaerobic Training:
>90% HR Max, 20sec – 3 min per rep, 2-4 sets of 4-8 reps with a 1:4 work to rest ratio.

If you want to do the math on the volume for each, it closely resembles the portion of aerobic to anaerobic needs.

I would prescribe each type of workout on its own day, along with two strength training sessions per week. I would also have my athletes perform speed, agility and quickness work on strength days, or before the anaerobic training day.

So early in the off-season a training week might look something like this:

Monday – Anaerobic Focus

  1. Sprint 30 sec, Rest (walk) 90 sec, 4 times
  2. Rest 3 minutes
  3. Sprint 30 sec, Rest (walk) 90 sec, 4 times

Tuesday – Strength Workout

Wednesday – Aerobic Focus

  1. Jog 8-10 min, walk 1 min, 3-4 times

Thursday – Strength Workout

Friday – Anaerobic Lactic Focus

This workout is done on Fridays, because it’s the most taxing.  This will give you 2 days rest before getting back to it.

  1. 3 min cruise (almost a sprint, and you should not be able to go for much longer than the 3 min), rest (walk) 90 sec, 4 times

The overall plan would of course include mobility work, flexibility, speed drills, plyometrics, agility and quickness drills, as well as warm ups, cool downs and so on.

The great thing about this plan is that it develops all three energy systems, without the focus on just “cardio” or “HIIT”. It’s a much more rounded way to develop performance, fitness, and a lean body.

Image courtesy of bplanet /

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