- Fitness Guides & Advice
The football season, whether it’s the Champions League or FA Cup, unites people through a love of the game and a sense of community. Whether you’re a fan of the sport or enjoy a kick about on weekends with the kids – it can be a great way to stay active.
Combining strength, speed, power, agility and coordination, here are eight football inspired workouts that make for excellent warmup ideas ahead of your normal gym routine.
1. Split Squats
As we know, footballers are constantly on their feet. A great exercise to boost the strength within your lower legs is the Split Squat. To perform this exercise, squat with your legs in a split stance (one foot forward and back), hold the pose and come up standing. Try adding weight by using a barbell or a kettlebell if you’re looking for an extra challenge. Elevate your rear leg on a bench and try a Bulgarian Split Squat if you need that added boost.
2. Agility Runs
Footballers run a lot throughout a game of football, covering around 10km a match - but these runs consist of periods of sprinting and decelerating, with quick changes in direction. If you’re wanting to improve your agility and get to grips with quick stops and direction changes, a great way to practice is by placing cones out in a pattern, creating your own agility course.
This exercise is ideal if you need help with building stronger glutes and quads and is also an excellent way to improve your knee strength, which is vital if you’re on your feet a lot. It’s also a fantastic way to improve your balance and get your body used to a change in direction – something which is constant within football. To perform this move, stand on one leg, bound sideways onto the other leg, letting your standing leg trail behind like a speed skater.
Being agile is a key attribute for a footballer. Another great way to make sure you’re light on your feet is by incorporating skipping into your daily workout. Skipping helps to not only improve your speed but also your coordination - two much needed skills when on the pitch. It makes for a quick addition to your session as just five minutes a day can make a difference. It’s also a great way to condition the body without straining yourself.
5. Box Jumps
Box jumps are a great warmup exercise to add into your routine, as they help to build the power in your legs to improve your jump height. This is especially important if you’re jumping to win headers (or catch the ball if you’re a goalkeeper). Box jumps are a relatively simple exercise, and the best way to see an improvement is to start with the lowest box and gradually progress to a bigger size. This exercise can also be performed at home, just substitute the boxes for stairs or a bench at the local park.
6. Pallof Press
This exercise is a must if you’re looking to build your upper body strength. Having a strong core allows you to hold off your opponent within a match. The way to do a Pallof Press is by holding a resistance band or cable to your chest, then step sideways until there is enough tension. Fix your stance and push the cable/band out in front of you, resisting the urge to rotate. This move will help improve your core stabilisation and allow you to find your balance. Which is important for players in defence, as it boosts their agility which helps with manoeuvring across the field.
7. Kettlebell Swings
Kettlebell swings are ideal for developing hip extension speed and power which means you’ll have the ability to improve your speed, have more powerful kicks and even higher jumps – a must for those game winning goals. The best way to complete this exercise is by holding the kettlebell in front of your hips, then hinge forward at the waist and powerfully thrust the kettlebell in a swinging motion to shoulder height. These are great exercises to incorporate into your daily training if you’re looking for a full body, low impact workout.
8. Step Ups
This single leg exercise is ideal for improving your strength and balance. To do this exercise, step up onto a bench or step, and gradually increase the height of the step or add weight using a dumbbell or barbell to progress the move and build stronger leg muscles. This will help improve your lower body conditioning, especially targeting your quadriceps and hamstrings, as well as the glute muscles within your buttocks – ideal for staying on your feet for 90 minutes or more.