A Guide to Cardio for Footballers

Football or soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world. Football has been universally accepted as the sport that most countries participate in on the international stage. Soccer may seem like a simple sport since all you need is your body and a ball. Still, as it has developed, more money has been invested in the sport. Consequently, football has become a refined art, with sports science, nutritional science, and more. All lending their expertise to footballers.

These health care disciplines have overlapped with football to drive better results for footballers, reduce their likelihood of injury, improve fitness and recovery time, and, of course, performance on the field. One of the most apparent parts required to be a successful soccer player is being able to run and move around for the full 90 minutes. Consequently, you need your heart pumping at the right speeds and your lung capacity increased over time to get oxygen to the muscles.

Improvements in the body can only be achieved through a range of cardiovascular exercises like running and jogging. But, how much running does a footballer need to get fit? Let’s find out, shall we?

How often should you do cardio?

The typical football schedule consists of one game every seven days. So, an in-season conditioning schedule is much denser than other sports, which often have multiple games in a week. Traditionally, two cardiovascular sessions a week work well for in-season training.

Usually, they should be scheduled a day after the competition, which is ideal for a recovery session.

A session lasts 20 to 30 minutes with a heart rate around 60 to 70% of your max, along with treatment and any needed therapy.

The general rule for training, during the season, for any sport is to perform two high-intensity cardiovascular workouts in a week to maintain your fitness levels. The game is considered one of these high-intensity days. This means that if you don’t play in the game, then you should do some high-intensity intervals that day or the next to keep your fitness level up.

Cardio will include jogging, sprint drills, agility drills, and whatever are prescribed for your particular skill or position you play. Heart rate for this session is 85 to 90% of your max. This will allow for three days of recovery before your next competition.

Get the right footwear

One highly overlooked aspect of cardio is the footwear. Now, many footballers train in their boots while others prefer to train in running shoes. This is a personal preference or a preference of facilities available. Sure, if you have a grass or artificial turf close by, your boots are an option. And, if not then road running would require a decent pair of running shoes.  

Making sure you have the right footwear can reduce strain on the joints. Also, it can keep you from pulling up and getting injured. In addition, it can keep you from running in a way that damages your body as you compensate for the poor support. So, make sure your footwear is up to par.

Stay hydrated

During cardio, and I mean proper cardio, you are going to sweat. Indeed, that’s one of the signs you’re doing it right, since your body is under strain and stress and is trying to cool down to maintain a healthy temperature. To help your body stay in the correct zone for fat burning and muscle strain, you need to keep it adequately hydrated. Which, you can do by either by drinking water or having your favorite low sugar energy drink available during training.

However, don’t think that hydration is only during training. In fact, you should remain hydrated well into the rest of the day as your muscles also repair from your workout.

Switch it up with HIIT

Most of all, you cannot go jogging on the field or in the neighborhood and think you’re going to get into football shape. Indeed, soccer requires a lot of explosive activity for things like dribbling or tracking back. Also, it is made up of many short sprints and switching directions during the game. These situations make it necessary for footballers to train for explosive power through more HIIT training sessions.

Get ready for football

Now, that you’re ready to start improving your cardio, you’ll be able to build a solid foundation for becoming a better footballer. Having the cardio as a floor for your workouts will help you remain more attentive to the more technical aspects. For example, these include activities such as passing, shooting, and dribbling. Also, it includes better co-ordination with the ball. And, it includes co-ordination with your teammates as your body starts to keep pace with what your mind wants it to do.