Pro Soccer Fitness Training Workouts

One sec coach.. just need.. to ... catch.. my .... breathhhh. Soccer fitness training is the foundation for any success on the field and without it you'll never hit your full potential. Below are some of the tests I have personally done while overseas and other top clubs do around the world, put yourself to the test and see how you compare to pro. Plus find more soccer conditioning drills and answers to all of your questions about soccer conditioning here. If you're ready for the next level of your game (the pro level) you can find a comprehensive Pro Pre-Season Soccer Fitness Program here.

Pro Fitness Tests: Juventus (Vo2 Max), Liverpool (Lactate Test), Man United (100 yard test), Beep Test, Yo-Yo Test, 300 Shuttle & more!

Fitness Devices Pro's Use: GPS Vest, Heart Rate Monitor, Apps and Training Masks.

Vo2 Max Test (Juventus)

Train like Ronaldo with the Vo2 Max Test and see how much oxygen you push out while working your hardest. This is essentially what your Vo2 max is (or at least that's what they told me overseas). We did this test every pre-season while playing pro and it can be gruelling, especially if you push yourself to the max. All the top pro teams do this in pre-season from Bayern to Barca and the rest.

Ok so this one looks fancy but there are other ways to calculate your Vo2 Max and get your soccer fitness training at a standard to compare to the pro's without all the fancy tubes and futuristic gadgets like the Russian in Rocky 4. Although you won't be able to do this one at home it is still valuable to know how you compare to the pro's and what to expect should you do it one day.

How to calculate my own Vo2 Max?

Step 1: Find your Resting Heart Rate (RHR): Put your fingers on your pulse while you're resting and count your pulse for 1 minute (or count for 20 seconds and multiply it by 3)

Step 2: Find your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR): Now at the end of a gruelling workout (like the ones below) when you are exhausted do the same thing above and calculate your maximum heart rate by counting how many pulses you feel in 1 minute (or count to 20 seconds and multiply it by 3)

Step 3: Divide your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) by your Resting Heart Rate (RHR) or MHR/RHR

Step 4: Multiply that by 15.3

So you should have Vo2 Max = 15.3 x (MHR/RHR), it's not as exact as the fancy machinery but it will have to do until you sign with Barca.


Compare your soccer fitness scores to the pro's:

Beginner Level Score: 20 - 30

Club Level Score: 30 - 55

University/College Level Score: 50 - 58

2nd Divison Pro Level Score:  58 - 64

1st Division Pro Level Score: 65+

Highest Score Ever Recorded: 90+




The Lactate Fitness Test (Liverpool)


Really trying to train like a pro? Soccer fitness training doesn't get much higher level than Liverpool's lactate fitness test. It's basically a test that withdraws blood from your body (usually ear or finger) in intervals of a run and measures your anaerobic (lactate) level threshold or how hard you can go before exhaustion. This one is not one you are going to be able to do at home and will need to be done in a professional environment. Although you can't do it yourself it's always good to know what the highest level is doing so when you get there you aren't overwhelmed. Usually a good lactate score is 90% of your maximum heart rate. Save doing this one when you sign for the big timers like Man City and Madrid.







100
Yard Test (Manchester United)


The Man United 100 yard test has been used in professional soccer fitness training plans to reach an elite level of cardiovascular performance. Before playing professionally I did this test several times at the University level, as tough as it was these were the types of fitness tests I wanted because I knew I had to train and have fitness like a pro before becoming one. 

Things to Remember before you start:

- Don't gas yourself out on the first 10 reps at 25 seconds, these should be done at 75% to save energy for later.

- Really take the time to recover on the way back, don't chat with friends or sprint back, relax and take some deep breaths.

- Even if it is half a yard try and step in to the start to get a little momentum as you begin.

 

Set-Up:

-2 cones set up 100 yards apart on a field or 91 meters on a track.

-Manchester United 100 Yard Test Audio (find in video above).


Execution:

Basically you need to run 100 yards in a set time that increases after each run and you have the rest of the minute to jog back to the starting line.

100 yard sprint in 25 seconds, you have 35 seconds to get back to the starting point.

(Do the above at 25 seconds 10 times before the times start going down)

Now this is where it gets tough, same rules apply just time increases. 

100 yard sprint in 24 seconds, 36 seconds to jog back

100 yard sprint in 23 seconds, 37 seconds to jog back

100 yard sprint in 22 seconds, 38 seconds to jog back

100 yard sprint in 21 seconds, 39 seconds to jog back

100 yard sprint in 20 seconds, 40 seconds to jog back

100 yard sprint in 19 seconds, 41 seconds to jog back

100 yard sprint in 18 seconds, 42 seconds to jog back

100 yard sprint in 17 seconds, 43 seconds to jog back

100 yard sprint in 16 seconds, 44 seconds to jog back

100 yard sprint in 15 seconds, 45 seconds to get back (Test is complete if you can complete 3 of these)


Compare your soccer fitness scores to the pro's:

Beginner Level Score: 10 sprints 

Club Level Score: 13 sprints

University/College Level Score: 17 sprints 

2nd Divison Pro Level Score: 20 sprints

1st Division Pro Level Score:  22 sprints (complete entire test with 3 sprints at 15 sec)

Highest Score Ever Recorded: Complete entire test (didn't get here? then you have some work to do to add to your soccer fitness training regime.




Beep Test


If you don't hear that "beep" in you sleep, you haven't suffered from the Beep Test enough yet. This was more of a University level than a Pro fitness test I used to do but nevertheless it is and will always be both a mental and physical battle. The Beep Test has been around for quite sometime and measures the fitness of a player based on 1 Minute intervals of increased sprints over a 20m distance. This is one of those soccer fitness training exercises that give you a great starting point of where you are at.

Things to Remember before you start: 

- It's all about the turns, be quick and efficient and try and explode out of each turn of direction.

- Commit to being eliminated and not quitting, meaning you should be eliminated by missing two beeps in a row from trying so hard to make it not because you are tired and can't go anymore and quit only after one beep or from exhaustion. 

- Have a set realistic number you want to achieve before you start and don't quit until you get it.

  

Set Up:

-2 cones set up 20m apart (22 yards) 

-Beep Test audio (find video above)

 

Execution: 

While listening to the audio of the Beep Test you must get to the opposite end of the 20m distance before the beep sounds and keep going back and forth making each line before the next beep. The beep sound will get closer and closer to one another (indicated by levels increasing), when you miss reaching an end twice in a row (or missing two consecutive beeps) you're out and whichever level you finished at is the level you completed.

For any serious player it's good to do this once every 4 or 5 weeks and see the improvement. Soccer fitness training like the Beep Test becomes more and more important the higher the level you play at.


Compare your soccer fitness scores to the pro's:


Beginner Level Score: 8 - 10

Club Level Score: 11 - 13

University/College Level Score: 13 - 14

2nd Division Pro Level Score: 14 - 15

1st Division Pro Level Score: 15 +

Highest Score Ever Recorded: David Beckham  17+




Yo-Yo Intermediate Test Level 1


Yo-Yo Intermediate Test and soccer fitness training go hand in hand. Slightly like the beep test but with some more breaks between sprints, this was an exercise I did in Serbia usually twice a season. They would test in pre-season and then again during the season, if you think its the constant turning of the beep test that hurts your time this will be a nice relief.

Things to Remember before you start: 

- Use your momentum to get to the end or the rest area as quick as possible for a longer rest.

- Do it on concrete or court in running shoes if you want the highest possible score (although grass is sport specific you won't get as high a score generally).

- Try and run it with a partner, it will only push you to get a higher score.

Set-Up:

- Place 2 cones 20 Meters apart, then place another cone (shoes or bag or anything works) 5 meters past that this will act as the rest/walk zone.

- The Yo-Yo Test audio (see above)

Execution:

Pretty straight forward here, you have 14.5 seconds once you hear the beep to get to the far cone and back around to where you started, you then have 10 seconds to walk through the rest zone before you start the next rep. If you miss one interval (don't get back before the beep) you will receive a warning, two warnings and your test is over. Your final score plus the number of reps you did will be recorded.





Compare your soccer fitness scores to the pro's:

Beginner Level Score: 15.1

Club Level Score: 17.1

University/College Level Score: 18.1

2nd Divison Pro Level Score: 19.1

1st Division Pro Level Score: 20.1

Highest Score Ever Recorded:




Yo-Yo Intermediate Test Level 2


Level 2 of this test is a slight variation as you can tell in the video below. This one is geared towards the elite athlete and is a good addition to your soccer fitness weekly or monthly plan, this one I did in Malaysia and because of the humidity (no accountability on my end) it was torture but effective. The only difference between this and the Level 1 Yoyo Test above is that this one starts at 13km/h whereas Level 1 starts at 10km/h.

Things to Remember before you start: 

- Try to avoid doing it on a windy day, it will help you one way but will be painful the other. (I always liked warm but not too hot of days and doing it morning or early evening is always nice).

- Start in a low position to get as much power and push of the start.

- Deep breaths in through your nose (avoid mouth breathing whenever you can).

Set-Up:

- Place 2 cones 20 Meters apart, then place another cone (shoes or bag or anything works) 5 meters past that this will act as the rest/walk zone.

- The Yo-Yo Test audio (see above)

Execution:

Pretty straight forward here, you have 14.5 seconds once you hear the beep to get to the far cone and back around to where you started, you then have 10 seconds to walk through the rest zone before you start the next rep. If you miss one interval (don't get back before the beep) you will receive a warning, two warnings and your test is over. Your final score plus the number of reps you did will be recorded.


Compare your soccer fitness scores to the pro's:

Beginner Level Score: < 18

Club Level Score: < 20

University/College Level Score: 21.4

2nd Divison Pro Level Score: 21.8

1st Division Pro Level Score: 22.4

Highest Score Ever Recorded: >22.4 




300 Yard Shuttle Run


Very little set up and straight to the point are my favourite soccer fitness training tests. I did this once while I was on trial in London and I had never been more fit, I was able to do it in just under 50 seconds. A word of advice, although it seems a quick test (down and back 6 times) don't burn out on the first few sprints, the last few will feel like torture. Go out at about 75-80% and ramp it up as you go based on how you're feeling. 

Things to Remember before you start:

- This is one where you need to start hard and go hard throughout 

- Try and take smaller quicker steps as you approach a line and turn

- Don't forget to pump your arms rapidly especially when you stop and go in the opposite direction


Set Up:

-Simple set up you only need two cones placed 25 yards apart, some sort of timer (stopwatch, wrist watch, phone etc.)


Execution:

You need to run to the 25 yard cone and back 6 times for a total of 300 yards. This will of course be timed, lower the score the better.

Compare your soccer fitness scores to the pro's:


Beginner Level Score: 60 - 70 sec

Club Level Score: 57 - 60 sec

University/College Level Score: 55 - 57 sec

2nd Divison Pro Level Score: 50 - 55 sec

1st Division Pro Level Score: 45 - 50 sec

Highest Score Ever Recorded: 41 sec




Cooper Test (12 min timed)


This is a high school gym class classic. Also done at the pro level when first establishing some base fitness, it's a great one to throw down a marker of where you are at. You want to calculate your Vo2 Max and get quality soccer fitness training in? Look no further than the Cooper Test.

Things to Remember before you start: 

- Have a rough time you want per lap and try and stick to that to avoid taking it easy or burning yourself our too early.

- Keep some in the tank for the last couple minutes so you can really push.


Set Up:

- Using a 400m track is best, doing it around a field or something that resembles a track can be tricky and give you inaccurate results. 

- You will need a timer of some sort as well, stop watch, wrist watch or phone will do.

 

Execution:

You basically have 12minutes to run as much distance around a track as you possibly can. Nothing more to it than that. Be sure to measure exactly how far you run, 7 laps and 3/4, 6 laps and 100m etc.


Compare your soccer fitness scores to the pro's:


Beginner Level Score: 1800 meters (4.5 laps)

Club level player: 2800 meters + (7 laps)

University/College Level Score: 3200 meters + (8 laps)

2nd Division Pro Level Score: 3600 meters + (9 laps)

1st Division Pro Level Score: 3800 meters + (9.5 laps)

Highest Score Ever Recorded: 4720 meters (11.8 laps)




2 Mile Run


Some people get this confused with the Cooper Test but it's really quite different. This one is 8 (feels like 108) laps around a 400m track and you're obviously trying to get as low a score as possible. My best time was 10:05 (outdone by one of teammates) I knew that I couldn't wait to be a pro to start acting like one from a soccer fitness training stand point. Can you beat my score? Doubt it!


Things to Remember before you start: 

- Pace yourself! There are no breaks so don't go all out on the first lap.

- Win the battle of the negative self talk in your head, around lap 4 or 5 you will see what I mean. 

- Get a friend to ride on his bike beside you and be the pacer for whatever time you want to achieve, I recommend have them ride their bike at a 6 minute per mile pace.


Set Up:

- All you need is a 400 meter track and a timer of some sort (watch, phone, stopwatch etc.)

- If you have no track you could run 2miles on a GPS tracker or watch if you have that available to you.


Execution:

Run in a consecutive motion for 8 laps around a 400 meter track. Be sure to accurately track your time, have a look every once in a while at your watch/stopwatch to make sure it didn't stop by accident.


Compare your soccer fitness scores to the pro's:


Beginner Level Score: 15:00min +

Club level player: 12:00 - 13:00min

University/College Level Score: 11:00 - 11:45min

2nd Divison Pro Level Score: 10:30 - 11:00min

1st Division Pro Level Score: 10:00 - 10:30min

Highest Score Ever Recorded: Probably me, actually the world record is 7:58, wow!




Pro shuttle run


I learned this one from a Coach who had been working with the English Olympic team and I can honestly say it got me the fittest I have ever been. He has been work in sports science and soccer fitness training for years and helped me tremendously. This one will haunt you at night, enjoy.

Things to Remember before you start:

- Use the correct footwear (cleats on grass, running shoes on a track, court or concrete)

- I always like going hard on the first down and back to get my confidence up and start strong. 

- Remove excuses from your mind, around the 3rd and 4th rep is when you will want to quit, get to the big 3 minute breaks and you will regroup and back on track.

Set Up:

- Really easy set up, the important thing to remember is that as you get better at this one the only thing that changes is the distance. Times of each run, the rest of each run and rest between sets always stay the same.

- Place one cone at the beginning and another 20 yards away (you can walk two big steps past the 18 yard box to get the distance if you don't have a measuring tape)

- Stop watch to keep time (or your phone or wrist watch) 

Execution:

 You will have 30 seconds to run the 20 yards down and back 3 times (total of 120 yards). Once you have done that you have a 30 second break before you repeat it again.


Run 20 yards there and back 3 times, Rest 30 seconds

Run 20 yards there and back 3 times, Rest 30 seconds

Run 20 yards there and back 3 times, Rest 30 seconds

Run 20 yards there and back 3 times, Rest 30 seconds

Run 20 yards there and back 3 times, Rest 30 seconds

Rest 3 minutes

Repeat for 2 more sets.


Compare your soccer fitness scores to the pro's:

Beginner Level Score: 16 - 19 yards

 Club Level Score: 20 - 22 yards

 University/College Level Score: 24 - 26 yards

 2nd Division Pro Level Score: 26 - 28 yards

 1st Division Pro Level Score: 28-30 yards

 Highest Score Ever Recorded: 33 yards


Pro Soccer Fitness Training Devices

GPS Vest


What it's used for:

Worn either above or under the shirt this half vest looking thing has some pretty special capabilities when it comes to analyzing your soccer fitness and much more. While playing in Serbia I got used to wearing it and when training starts you basically forget you have it on (what a fashion statement too). One thing that isn't mentioned that I noticed was that on the days I was wearing a vest it made me train harder because you know every sprint, acceleration and heart beat is being tracked and nobody wants to look bad when your stats are being so closely reviewed.


Positives:

- Tracks your distance covered, speed, decelerations, stress, load, heart rate and much more.

- Allows the coaches to know how much to scale up or down training based on the data given.

- Give your coach an idea of how you're feeling from a workload perspective.


Negatives:

- Sometimes being overwhelmed with data can cause a staff relying too much on technology and less on feel.


Heart Rate Monitor Strap


What it's used for:

Heart rate monitors are common in all professional environments, I had two trials in Ireland where for the two weeks I was there they had me where one to measure my soccer fitness on a deeper level. They basically used it to see the fitness level you are at, they did this by calculating Vo2 Max and comparing to where you were before and where you are now. In a more team sense they wanted to be able to plan the training load for the team for the week so based on how hard they were pushing us they knew through the monitors whether to increase or decrease the intensity or how much or little of fitness we should be doing in connection with practice.


Positives:

- Easily tracks your heart rate to give you an idea of how hard you are working at any particular time.

- Allows you to understand how hard you need to go each day of the week.

- Give your coach an idea of how you're feeling from a workload perspective.

- Easy to set up and carry around. 


Negatives:

- Strap can be uncomfortable on the bare skin sometimes, if not programmed correctly can give inaccurate results.


Fitness Apps



What it's used for:

There are so many soccer fitness training apps out there and the Nike Run Club app is one I have used while preparing for trials and that is the highest of quality and can be used for soccer specific training. It tracks your distance, time and elevation while mapping out your entire run to store and share easily. I have had a couple of my teams do all our fitness monitoring while we were on break from each other through this app.  You can see where your teammates and friends are at through a leader board and it also has challenges you can create.  Simple and effective and no data required when you go out for a run is a big plus.

Positives:

- You can sync with an apple watch if you have it and don't need to bring your phones for runs.

-Speaks out loud to you during your run so you don't have to keep checking your pocket for time, distance etc.

- Keeps track of your heart rate, elevation, time and of course distance of your run.

- You can compete against your friends and create challenges.

- Easy to share your runs on social media and among friends.

Negatives:

- Hard to find any negatives it gives you everything you need.


Training Mask



What it's used for:

To wear or not to wear, that is the question. I wore a training mask about once a week while I was training for my trial in Ireland and it made workouts almost twice as hard. What I found was that it made both long and short fitness workouts more of a challenge but my fitness scores were always a little lower than usual. There has been so much written about the positives and negatives of it and I can only speak from experience and say it helped my ability to take in more oxygen once it was taken off. They say if you are preparing to play a match in altitude then there is no better thing to do then actually train at altitude. If you don't have that option then these training masks are a pretty good substitute and even if you mix it up and use it once or twice a week for your workouts I've found that it is useful.


Positives:

- Adjustable straps and easy to take on and off

- Helps improve breathing capacity.

- Is a better replacement for altitude training then doing nothing.


Negatives:

- Doesn't replace altitude training to the level some may think.

- Will make fitness workouts much tougher and lower your times.







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