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Football Endurance Training Guide


Understanding the different types of football endurance training

Do you struggle to keep going for the duration of a football match? This guide to football endurance training from Maximuscle will help you understand how to perform at your best for longer:

The benefits of endurance training

Endurance training is great for improving your overall fitness. It helps the body to become capable of carrying out activities with reduced strain. This is because the muscles worked are trained to use oxygen more efficiently, resulting in an increased oxygen uptake capacity.

Bear in mind that this only applies to the muscles being trained. Therefore, a footballer’s training should and most probably will be a lot different to that of a swimmer or long-distance runner.

General endurance training

While the following three examples can be applied to a host of sports, each activity can be tailored to football (dribbling drills or running the length of a pitch, for instance).

Continuous training

Of the three forms, continuous training is the easiest to plan, as it simply involves performing an activity at a set pace for a sustained amount of time.

There are different levels of continuous training, such as:

  • Train your body to between 50 and 60 per cent of its maximal work rate in order to metabolise fat. This will see only the aerobic system being called upon, and the exercise can be performed for 60 minutes or more without issue.
  • Train your body to between 70 and 80 per cent of its maximal work rate in order to improve your cardiovascular system. This will see only the aerobic system being called upon once again but, because it uses glycogen, you are likely to only be able to perform the exercise effectively for between 30 and 45 minutes.
  • Train your body to between 80 and 90 per cent of its maximal work rate in order to improve your cardiovascular system and burn glycogen more effectively. Your lactate tolerance threshold will also be heightened. As the aerobic system is put under heavy strain, the activity should last from 10 minutes to a maximum of 20 minutes before a rest.

    No matter the level selected for a programme, the training will enhance how effective the body is at transporting oxygen from the lungs to the heart, as well as from the heart to the muscles. The heart is a muscle in itself too, with continuous training increasing its strength.

    Interval training

    This is usually the type of endurance training that requires the most preparation, as it is very precise and structured.

    Planning needn’t be difficult though, as you just need to work out how long to perform a high intensity exercise for and how long you want as a rest period. These two exercises essentially form one rep, with the total number of reps dependent on how long you would like to train.

    Interval training helps to improve your body’s anaerobic glycolytic system, as a result of the following cycle:

    1. Lactic acid will build up in trained muscles during the high intensity part of the workout.
    2. An oxygen debt will occur in these muscles as a result.
    3. Oxygen will be transported through the lungs and the heart to the muscles during the low intensity part of the workout.
    4. Once oxygen has reached the muscles, the debt will be repaid and the lactic acid will be circulated away and out of the body.

    Fartlek training

    Fartlek training and interval training have many similarities. Both involve periods of high intensity exercise which are split by a stretch of low intensity work, heightening the body’s lactic acid threshold level.

    The key difference between the two types is that fartlek training is a lot less rigid. You are in control of how intense you want each section to be and this can be changed ad hoc to suit your training needs or if you feel the exercise is too easy or tiring.

    When making choices about how challenging the sections are though, it is important to have maturity so that the session is always helping you work towards the goals you have in mind. Making the programme too intense will increase the risk of injury, for example, while taking too relaxed an approach will offer little benefit to your body and its cardiovascular system.