Train like a premier league footballer

It’s that time of the year again, football transfer rumours are hotting up and our favourite football teams are starting their pre-season training. Some will be jetting off to America, China and Australia, showcasing their skills, talent and incredible fitness. It’s impressive how these players stay so fit throughout the year, even when injured!

So, how do they do it? That’s a question we will address in this blog. In short, we will show you how to get as fit as a premier league footballer, but without access to their fancy training facilities – just a simple gym.

If you have ever wondered how top-grade footballers train, then wonder no more. As we’re in the football pre-season we thought it would be a good opportunity to show you how premier league players prepare for the new season, as well as maintain a very high level of fitness for nigh on ten months!

The good news is that you can easily train the same way they do. The bad news is that they will be on strict diets and will train a lot: 4-5 hours a day on average. The diet is possible, albeit difficult, but the hours aren’t a realistic proposition for those of us with a 9 to 5 job.

Nevertheless, it is possible to reach the same fitness levels as a professional footballer. You just might have to accept that it could take you a little longer to get there.

The main fitness requirements for a premier league footballer are the three S’s – stamina, strength and speed. Regardless of position played, these qualities are fundamental to a player’s career. Soccer is a fast-paced game that can cause many different types of injuries; anything from fatigue-related strains to impact muscle damage.

Nike sports scientist, Craig Turner, shared his thoughts on this topic recently, saying the following:

“The modern-day footballer is as fast and as strong as possible, and aerobically fit. Players must have the ability to sprint, change direction and move in various planes of motion, whilst being able to stop their opponent and react to different situations quicker than anyone else.”


Premier league footballer speed

Football training – Speed

Let’s start with speed. To increase your speed, you will have to focus on cardiovascular exercise involving circuit training, speed bursts and short races against yourself or a friend. Okay, we’re not all lucky enough to have a pitch to train on, but everything that can be done outside in this respect, can be also be done inside with a treadmill.

Nike coaches claim that the key to improving sprint speed is to work on your acceleration, deceleration, max velocity and ability to change direction. By adding a change in speed when running, you are challenging your body to keep up with what is happening to it. This encourages it to adapt and do everything it can to succeed. By ‘shocking’ the body, you keep it guessing, keep it working and keep it improving.

The best way to improve your speed is by doing circuit training. If you go to any football training ground you are guaranteed to see players performing this type of exercise. Although they are using the pitch, you can easily transfer this type of workout to a gym. You can switch from running on a treadmill to cycling on a bike and get the same results as you would if you’d be training outside.

We spoke to Craig Fleming, under 18’s coach at Southampton FC, who shared his thoughts on this type of exercise:

 "It's doing the hard yards before the season starts, pushing yourself to new territories in terms of exercise and dieting. Exercise needs to come in all formats; not just running, but swimming & cycling too".

Try sprinting for 20 seconds, slowing down for 20 seconds and repeating. Do this 3-5 times, then repeat the same process on the exercise bike. If you want to include more in your circuit, try sprinting on the spot, as well as using a speed rope. It may sound too simple to be effective, but try it and you will be surprised your improvement in speed!

Circuit training is hard and will truly push you to your limits. However, the harder the training is, the quicker you will see results.

Premier league footballer Strength

Football training – Strength

Professional footballers train their entire bodies to increase overall strength. From head to toe, each body part will be worked on, so that it can be as physically strong as possible.

When you think of strength, you might visualise big biceps or huge legs but, in football, a strong core is of primary importance. This will help prevent you getting injured, give you good balance and assist in improving your overall performance.

A strong core is something that professional footballers work on a lot. You’ve probably noticed that most players have very toned stomachs (many of them display well-defined six-packs). This is no accident; they work hard every day to achieve this, although the importance of diet should also be borne in mind.

To improve your strength there are two main tactics, namely to perform bodyweight exercises or weighted exercises.

Bodyweight exercises, such as press-ups and pull-ups, are great because they are a bit gentler on the body. However, they simply cannot compete with a workout involving free weights or resistance machines. By using weights, you can isolate certain parts of your body. This is why you’ll see so many premier league footballers doing squats, deadlifts and bench presses.

Remember, the key to improving strength (in the manner required by professional footballers) is not to concentrate on heavy weights alone, but rather to mix up your training with both light and heavy weights. After you finish your final rep, try dropping the weight to something a lot lighter in order to perform ‘burnout set’. Burnout sets are performed to the point muscular exhaustion. This will shock your body and increase the blood flow to that area concerned. However, this is not particularly easy, so be sure to have someone nearby spotting you.

Try the following exercises in a gym to improve your strength:

Bench Press – 3 sets of 5 reps. Once finished, drop the weight to a much lighter weight and do a burnout set.

Squats – 3 sets of 5 reps.

Military Press – 3 sets of 5 reps. Once finished, drop the weight to a much lighter weight and do a burnout set.

Barbell Curl – 3 sets of 5 reps.

When attempting a heavy set to improve your strength, always start off lighter to give your body time to warm up. You also good feel for exactly what you can and cannot lift.

Premier league footballer stamina

Football training – Stamina

Stamina is crucial for a premier league footballer, as it can mean the difference between winning a losing. So many games are won in the last 20 minutes because players become tired and fatigued, and it’s the real stars of the game that are able to carry on and push through this. Players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale are known for both their talent and their incredible fitness. This is why they can single handedly win a game. It’s not unreasonable to say that stamina is as important as talent!

The best way to improve your stamina is to run long distances. Whereas improvements in strength and speed involve short and quick exercises, stamina is best increased by exercising for long periods of time. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts in this respect.

To improve your stamina, you will need to choose your favourite cardio machine (you will be spending a lot of time on it!), select a good music playlist and set yourself a target. Improving stamina is easier for footballers because they train for such long periods of time every day. Even so, what they do on the training ground you can also do in a gym.

It is important to set a clear target; for example, you might want to run 5k to start with and then increase the distance to 10k, etc. By setting targets you can always see the finish line. This will help keep you motivated, meaning that you’ll be less likely to give up. It also provides a means of measuring your improvement, be it in shorter times or increased distances.

Premier League Football workout

We have taken a typical premier league footballer's training schedule and converted it to a 4-day, weekly gym plan. We hope you will enjoy it.

Day 1 – Full body

Barbell Squats – 3 sets of 10 reps.

Bench Press – 3 sets of 10 reps.

Military Press – 3 sets of 10 reps.

Barbell Curl – 3 sets of 10 reps.

Day 2 – Circuit training

Warm up – exercise bike for 10 minutes.

Treadmill sprint – 20 seconds on/20 seconds off. Repeat for 20 minutes.

Cycle sprint - 20 seconds on/20 seconds off. Repeat for 20 minutes.

Day 3 – Full body

Warm up – treadmill jog for 10 minutes.

Barbell Squats – 2 sets of 15 reps.

Bench Press – 2 sets of 15 reps.

Military Press – 2 sets of 15 reps.

Barbell Curl – 2 sets of 15 reps.

Day 4 – Circuit training

Warm up – exercise bike for 10 minutes.

Treadmill sprint – 20 seconds on/30 seconds off. Repeat for 15 minutes.

Cycle sprint - 20 seconds on/30 seconds off. Repeat for 15 minutes.

Speed rope – 20 seconds on/30 seconds off. Repeat for 5 minutes.

Have fun!