Pro Soccer conditioning Workouts for the Aspiring Pro

Want unmatched soccer conditioning? Feel like your fitness training up to this point has been missing that little extra something? Whether it's aerobic (longer runs) or anaerobic (shorter sprints) training you're looking for, you'll find pro level conditioning tests and workouts you can't find anywhere else. If you're reading this with chip crumbs on your shirt and slowly sinking in to an Oreo induced coma I'm afraid I can't help you. If you are ready to take your fitness to the professional level this 12 Week Pro Pre-Season Conditioning Program is a must. Now you've got no excuse, you have the workouts and guidance along with the motivation and passion you provide to get yourself soccer fit and ready for the challenges ahead.

The most common thing I explain to aspiring players about playing at the pro level is the speed of play. Not only how quick the ball moves but how quick players move and work for the entire training session and match. This is attributed to their preparation and high level of fitness, so if you have dreams of playing at the Camp Nou then your fitness better be ready.

High level soccer conditioning is just one piece of the pie in soccer but it is the aspect that you have complete control of and you don't need anybody else to raise your soccer conditioning to a professional level. Put in the time and you will see the results, you are better off sitting on you couch if you are not going to push yourself every workout that you do, constantly striving for more each day.

Taken from professional European club grounds and national championship winning collegiate sides, these specific soccer conditioning workouts and plans are for any serious player.

Pro Soccer Conditioning (Anaerobic Workouts)

Pro Soccer Conditioning (Aerobic Workouts)


Should I Be Doing Long Distance Running or Short Sprints?

Ready for an answer that will confuse you even more? .....how about both! Top level pro's combine anaerobic (short distance sprints) and aerobic (longer distance running) into their weekly and monthly conditioning plans. Any team I played for in the USA and in Europe combined both types of running to build the fitness necessary to play at the pro level. Generally speaking the early stages of a soccer conditioning plan require you to create a base level of fitness that typically includes more distance and interval running.

At the pro level (depending on what training is for that day) the coach works with the fitness coach for them to implement what his training session doesn't provide. For example if we are working on high pressing in training which requires lots of short sprints then the fitness coach may have a lighter load of sprint workouts for that day.

Let's think about it logically, during a match do you run long or short? or both? Generally it's quick short burst and sprints for no more than 15 yards at a time, with the occasional 50 yard run.

So what you should be doing is using the 80/20 rule in this case. The bulk of your fitness training (80%) should be shorter anaerobic (that means shorter explosive sprints, impressed with my fancy words?). The 20% is left for longer distance runs and for long cool down runs.

When I prepare for a season ahead I like to ease into my intense sprint oriented workouts. So I'll start off with a long jog throwing in some 10 second periods of picking up the pace every now and again. I don't like jumping right into the hard sprints to over stress the body and possibly risk an early injury. So once you feel your legs have got that jump back in them I would move onto the 80/20 rule I mentioned above. So the answer is both really but remember not to overextend yourself too early. Unless preseason is in a week, in that case I hope you're on a treadmill while reading this.


what's the best workout to do to get fit the fastest?

Of course the answer is a combination of both anaerobic and aerobic workouts blah blah blah but for me there is one workout I have done over the years that has been the toughest and acted as a great gage of where my fitness is. This workout is called the FIT Protocol, find it in its entirety both on this page and in my 6 week pro fitness training plan. It's simple to set up, tough to run and allows you to see your progress over time, I try and run it at least once a week to see how far along I have come.


what kind of soccer conditioning can i do if i'm coming back from injury and can't run?

While I was in University and overseas I had my fair share of injuries and there was always a point where I was close to being fully healthy again but couldn't quite train fully with the team yet. During these times along with my rehab I had to find creative low-impact ways to get my specific soccer conditioning back and here are a few of the ones I did myself or saw teammates do.

From all the different types I have tried I personally found water to be my best friend. A combination of swimming laps to get your cardio up with high knee running in both the shallow and the deep ends gave me a great workout and helped me get to the level I needed without putting any impact on my body.

Other great ways to get your cardio up without risking further injury include using a rowing machine, elliptical, outdoor bike, stationary bike, boxing, band work and even training in sand as you get closer to full health.


is it okay to run on a treadmill?

The easy answer is yes but don't make it a habit. A treadmill is a great supplementary training device to have in case you can't run outside (quarantine life am I right?) due to weather or whatever other reason. You can find lots of treadmill specific fitness workouts here if you are in that situation and are primarily using a treadmill. If you can train outside on grass at a field always do that as this is the surface most like where you will be playing, if not a treadmill is a nice alternative to have.


What kind of technology do the pro's use and should i be using?

You've seen it all on tv, the vests, the GPS watches and everything else. While I was overseas these things were used but definitely not like they are today. Remember that you don't need all of this fancy equipment to become a pro but it's not a bad idea to test some out if you have the chance. Every pro that is playing right now started playing in their backyard long before all the fancy bells and whistles came in to the game.

The most popular tech that pro teams use today are GPS vests that track everything you can imagine from your top speed, to the amount of runs, accelerations and much more. Nowadays a cheap alternative is getting a fitness app (I like the Nike Run Club app) and have it on you while you train, it will track distance, time and the basics to help you understand where you are at.

From a video analysis point of view teams will film you playing with a regular camera, personal go pro's and even drones to follow the team and certain individuals. What's becoming really popular now is first person view filming to help see how each player see's the pitch and reacts to everything around them. Talk about eyes in the back of your head.


What KIND OF weekly soccer CONDITIONING DO THE PRO'S DO?

Conditioning with the ball, without the ball, anaerobic (short sprints), aerobic (longer endurance) combined with other low impact fitness like pool and bike work. All of these are incorporated into a soccer conditioning plan based on where the player is in terms of their own fitness, the team goals and injury concerns. You may end up seeing two completely different fitness plans based on the league you play in, who your coach is etc.

I remember while playing in Serbia that one of the coaches style of play was a pressing high tempo system which required us to work on our fitness much more than another team that sat back and didn't press as much.  With that said you need to obviously have a strong base of fitness no matter where you go and be flexible to adapt to any situation you get put in.


should i be doing conditioning two times a day at any point of the year?

Almost never is the simple answer. If you are doing it correctly one intense workout that meets all your fitness goals and pushes you to your limits is more than enough. If you have regular team training as well one extra fitness workout could do the opposite effect and two could lead to a workload that flirts with injury. You really need to have a specific soccer conditioning plan that you stick to and properly structures your workouts for the long term; fitness isn't like a test you can cram for the night before.


what things can i do before and after my conditioning workout to help me perform at my best?

"My legs just feel heavy today and I feel drained". Have you ever said that to yourself? (plus a couple of expletives) Well that could be for a lot of different reasons but the most common have to do with a combination of the following:

Sleep - didn't get at least 8 hours (quality hours as well, going to bed at 3am won't help you)

Nutrition - didn't eat a balanced meal the day prior

Hydration - didn't drink at least 6 bottles of water the day before and the day of the workout (at least 6, athletes should be closer to 10!)

Learn to master these four factors leading into your fitness workouts and you will find more consistent energy levels each and every day.


HOW MANY DAYS A WEEK DO I NEED TO DO conditioning BEFORE MY PRO TRIAL?

At an absolute minimum you should be on a 6 week fitness plan before your trial beings but ideally you should be training 12 weeks out if you want to be at your best fitness level possible. Weekly you should be doing fitness related workouts with or without the ball at least 4 and probably closer to 5-6 days a week. Sometimes you may not have the ability to train 12 weeks out or even 2 weeks out as these trials may just come up out of nowhere. This is why training like you have a trial coming up should be your mindset all times. Speaking from experience there were times where nothing was happening then all of a sudden my agent calls me and I had to go to England for a showcase trial then to Malaysia right after that.

When training for this particular tryout I was doing fitness away from the team I was training with 4 days a week. When it was during a time where I had no team to train with I was going closer to 5 or 6 days a week, I have the exact workout I did before going overseas here, give it a try and tell me if you can hang with me and other pro's preparing for trials.


WHAT DOES A WEEKLY soccer conditioning PROGRAM LOOK LIKE AT THE PRO LEVEL?

Speaking from experience it really depends on the week and whether it is during pre-season, in-season, an in-season tournament or the off season.

During pre-season with a pro team you will find there will be a larger emphasis on fitness throughout the week then any other time of the year. This is obviously getting you prepared for the season ahead and it isn't uncommon to have 4-5 fitness sessions a week on top of training.

During season can be tricky with games every weekend there is probably two days which you incorporate some sort of a soccer conditioning workout before, during or after training. Probably the time with the least amount of specific fitness workouts on a weekly basis.

During the off-season when there aren't regular games every week a teams fitness training plan will increase. Whether you are together or not the teams fitness requirements will go up due to the lack of high intensity games (sounds like fun I know).

If you are looking for a full year training schedule or a 6 week training schedule I used while training overseas at the professional level you can find it here.


HOW IMPORTANT IS conditioning AT THE PRO LEVEL?

I could tell you and you may or may not believe me but maybe this story will convince you of how important soccer conditioning is at the pro level.

I was at my second ever trial in Serbia with a 1st division club and there were about 20 trialists there and the first thing the coach did was bring uas all in and tell us to put the balls away and get our running shoes on. We started to run around the field and he told us you have to run around the entire field as fast as you can, the player that was last, was cut. He did this every lap until there were 5 of us left. He then told the 5 of us that the reserve team was training in an hour and we could go join.

He obviously wanted to weed out those that weren't prepared and fit for the level of the reserve team, it goes to show sometimes you can have all the talent in the world but if you don't come to a tryout fit, you may never get the chance to show that talent.



WHAT TYPE OF soccer conditioning TESTS DO THE PRO'S DO?

Of course the answer is depends on which team, league etc but you can find a list of fitness tests the pro's do right here. Everything from the Vo2 Max test, to Liverpools lactate test and many more you can do at home to train like a pro. 

Some typical fitness workouts the pro teams do include the Vo2 Max Test, Lactate Test, ManU Test, 300 yard Test, Beep Test, The Yo-Yo and many more. Find the explanations and scores of these pro tests and see how you compare to the highest level here.




what kind of soccer conditioning should goalkeepers be doing?

On several of the teams I've played on overseas it was the goalies who were the fittest but fit in a different type of way. I've talked about what type of fitness outfield players should do above and from what I've experienced goalies should be focusing heavier on anaerobic (shorter sprint) combined with explosive workouts and plyometrics. I was once told from a fitness coach in Serbia that goalies movements are that of a volleyball libero, quick short and explosive actions and they need reps in those movements unlike the requirements of outfield positions. Find some goalkeeper fitness workouts here.


how long should a conditioning workout be?

If you are doing it right it shouldn't be over an hour, actually closer to the 30 minutes is ideal if you are doing it right. Whether it is a long run or short sprints there comes a point where you are just fatiguing yourself and no longer improving your cardio. Majority of the soccer conditioning workouts I've listed on these pages are 30min or under. Longer the better is not the mentality you should have, I would rather a quality 20minute fitness workout then an hour and half just going at half speed. Keep it short and sharp.


should i be doing conditioning with or without a ball?

If you can use a ball do it. Mix it in whenever you can as long as it is not hurting the quality of the actual fitness workout. If you want specific fitness workouts with the ball you can find them here. You always hear about being sport specific and it doesn't get more specific for soccer then running with the ball, so see where it makes sense and throw in a fitness workout with a ball once or twice a week. If you are doing a specific fitness test like the beep or yo-yo do it without a ball to get the most accurate results possible.


What's the best time of day to do a conditioning workout?

You have to know your body and your city to answer that question. Certain summers in some cities it may be unbearable to train at 1,2 or 3pm while the sun is beating down on you so you may need to do it early in the morning or later in the evening when it is a touch cooler. Most people have more energy before 3pm so consider doing it than but it really does come down to preference. Try and stay fairly consistent not to switch it up in back to back days from a late night to earlier in the day to mess with your recovery time leading into the next workout.


DO THEY TEST conditioning IF I GO TO A PRO TRYOUT?

I have been on over 15 different professional tryouts (more than I'd like to admit sometimes) and at every single one there was an element of fitness. Whether it was a month long trial or a day; having a high level of soccer conditioning is crucial and I'll tell you why. You may only have a small window to impress the coaches and players around you and being first in a fitness test or exercise could be the difference.

I remember when I was at trial in Ireland and we did repeat 400m runs and there was a guy on the team who was known as the fittest guy, I knew if I could beat or keep up with him it would be a big statement and something everyone would talk about. We went neck and neck lap after lap and after it was all done I immediately got the respect of the players and it was something they were talking about all trial long. The lesson here is look for little ways to stand out, it could be fitness or being very vocal or whatever else, the intangibles matter just as much as your ability.


Soccer conditioning is not a On Today Off Tomorrow Process

One sprint and you're already gasping for air? "But I ran all summer I just haven't done much for the past few weeks."  Sorry to break it to you but soccer conditioning is not a one time shot but rather a continual process, any small break can really make its mark on your overall match ready fitness.

Soccer is filled with things you can't control on and off the field but one thing you can always control is your level or preparation and a large part of that is your soccer conditioning. Whether you need to be fit now or later; a lot of getting ready for a season with fitness is all about timing. Too much too soon can get you into trouble especially if you have issues maintaining it year round.

When it comes to trials with a new team or pre-season with an existing team, coming in with a high level of fitness can really send a message to your teammates/coaches about your level of commitment and desire to succeed in the upcoming season.

The 3 Most Important Things to Remember About Soccer conditioning:

1) It's a continual process, no one or two week breaks

2) Do it at 100% or not at all, push yourself

3) Keep raising the bar, keep track of your progress and celebrate small improvements


The Top 3 Common Mistakes about soccer conditioning:

1) Not pushing yourself within the workouts and not completing it to its fullest

2) Not warming up properly

3) Not having a weekly or monthly plan in mind, just going out there and making it up day to day.

As we all know nothing in the game works when your soccer conditioning isn't right. We've all been in those games where you're praying that it just come to an end, hoping that anything will happen to stop that pain in your chest and legs.


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