Professional soccer players are among the most physically fit athletes in the world. When combined with the incredible skills and techniques required to make it a pro soccer player, it’s little surprise to hear that the best players have dedicated countless hours towards training.
After all, your natural ability only gets you so far in soccer – you need hard work, dedication, and endless hours of training to reach this level.
Just look at top professionals like Christiano Ronaldo or Lionel Mess. These players are unquestionably gifted at soccer, but they didn’t reach this level overnight. They’ve been training for most of their lives, which is how they’ve reached the top of the game and now make tens of millions of dollars every year doing what they love.
While you may not quite hit the level of Messi or Ronaldo, simply training like a professional soccer player is going to provide you with countless health benefits while also improving your overall game. Check out some of these exercises and drills for how to train like a professional soccer player:
Cardio Training – HIIT Your Way to the Top
Not many people enjoy cardio training but it is the bread and butter of any professional soccer player. Running an average of 7 miles a match means soccer players require top endurance just to play 90 minutes, so you’re going to be doing lots of cardio work if you want to train like a pro.
It’s not fun but it is necessary to reach the insane fitness levels of a pro soccer player.
Now, you may think the best form of cardio is long durations of training given the distance soccer players cover and the relatively long duration of a match, but this isn’t necessarily the case. While long cardio training is never going to hurt your insurance and stamina, it does overlook an important part of soccer.
Plays aren’t running at top speeds for 90 minutes, as it’s literally impossible to do, rather they are running varying paces during a match. High-intensity sprints for 10-20 yards is very common, as is slowing down to a jog or even walking at points, with different positions requiring different approaches.
Because of the varying levels of intensity, high-intensity interval training is the perfect way to train cardio like a pro soccer player. For simple HIIT training exercises, just jump onto a cardio machine like the bike or treadmill, and alternate between high-intensity exercise where you push yourself to the limit and less intense exercise that gives you a minute to recover.
If you want to train HIIT on the soccer field, then consider two sets of running sessions between opposing penalty boxes. A sprint from one box to the other twice and then take a short break of around 15-20 seconds, then repeat the sets again up to 15 times depending on your fitness.
There are many great HIIT exercises you can try, all of which help build the unique endurance and recovery speed that pro soccer players have.
Strength Training – Lower Body Workouts for Pro Soccer Legs
While upper body strength shouldn’t be overlooked during soccer training (more on that later), if you want to train like the best then you’ll be doing a lot of lower body strength training.
After all, soccer players need to have as much strength and flexibility in their legs as possible, so training is a must. This is also important for avoiding injuries! As research from betting-sites shows, soccer players earn a staggering amount of money every second, so it’s not surprising that they invest so much of their time and income on getting the best training possible.
Weights are often a good introduction to strength training, especially for squats, but you can also use your own body weight as resistance to help build strength in the lower body. Basically, anything that works your glutes, hamstring, quads, and calves is a good workout!
As mentioned, squats are a great way to train like a soccer player, especially when incorporating kettlebells, barbells, or dumbbells, while lunges, box jumps, and plyometrics are other great options for building strength in the lower body.
Sprinting and Agility Drills
Speed is always important in soccer and you can be sure that all the top professional players constantly worked on their speed and agility – even those ‘slower’ defenders!
Soccer is constantly evolving so the speed of the modern game is quicker than it has ever been. Strength and endurance remain the core fundamentals of soccer training, yet those won’t matter as much if you lack speed!
For instance, measuring your sprint speed over 30 yards and working to reduce the time by practicing your speed is a simple yet effective speed training exercise. In this case, aim for reducing your time to anything below 5 seconds.
Speed ladders are a useful tool for working on speed and agility while also improving footwork. You can also incorporate different running techniques such as high knees and side-sprints to change the movements.
Another way to work on your speed agility is by completing exercises involving power movements. This builds the explosive power soccer players need to quickly sprint across shorter distances, such as when attempting to regain possession.
Many of the strength exercises mentioned above work well to build explosiveness as well as strength, so make sure to work on some plyometric exercises along with things like jump squats, power cleans, and high pulls.
Alternative starts work similarly to this, helping to train explosiveness by starting sprints from various positions. For example, you can start sprinting drills on your knees, lying face down, or even beginning the drill with a burpee or squat before running.
Don’t Forget Flexibility
Soccer players are surprisingly flexible, as this is a vital part of their fitness that helps improve technique while reducing the risks of injury. Of course, this applies to almost any professional athletic training programs, so don’t forgot to work on your flexibility when training like a pro.
Dynamic warm-ups are probably the safest and most effective way to add flexibility training. Typical warm-up exercises such as walking lunges, arm circles, jump squats, high kicks, high knees, butt kicks etc.
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