Soccer Conditioning Overview: Aerobic Part 2


Soccer:  2 *45 min halves = 10k (6 miles) or more worth of work, which includes an avg.  of 144 fast-paced runs and 40 flat out sprints.

As I mentioned before, we want  the ALACTIC and AEROBIC energy systems to fuel most of the work.  At least that is our goal.

Below is our three energy systems:  Aerobic, A Lactic, and Anaerobic.

The 144 fast paced runs and 40 sprints will each independently exhaust the ALACTIC system.  While the steady walk/jogging done during the game will be supplied by the Aerobic.  It is key to have a well developed Aerobic system.  Here is why…

Once the Alactic system becomes exhausted it will need to be recovered or in this case filled by either the Aerobic or Anaerobic system.  Since the match lasts 90 mins and the aerobic system can supply energy for hours. The Aerobic system is our best choice.

Now if the athlete’s Aerobic system can’t handle the demand.  The Anaerobic system will take over and try to carry the load, but remember Anaerobic system is limited (operates without oxygen)  soon fatigue will set in and quality of play will decline.

The picture above represents everything you don’t want  during a match (and your local pub).  This symbolizes fatigue,   the athlete is exhausted and their butt is on the bench.

Fatigue is our enemy.  Fatigue can make a player pass, instead of dribble;  attempt a last minute intercepting effort for the ball, instead of marking an opponent’s move; or walk, instead of jog.  In a sport where one mistake can decide whether you win or lose.  Fatigue has no place.

To counteract fatigue an athlete will subconsciously regulate their efforts throughout the whole match.  Just like in Distance Running “they will pace themselves”.  Their brain will process all past experiences, both in training and competitions.  As well as all sensory information during the match and regulate their play accordingly.

If an athlete’s conditioning is poor.  It could mean very average, if not poor levels of athleticism being produced.  This result helps no one.  An athlete must have a well-developed Aerobic engine.

Below is my progression to develop the Aerobic energy system for soccer play.   Remember to blend in-and-out the phases with progression.  Which, could be a headache when designing a  program for a quick 12 to 16 week season.  It’s always important to remind athletes to do general activities in the off season.  (Phases 1)

and always…

Phase 1

All general Aerobic exercises (Swim, Bike, Run, Circuits) lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.


- 20 min run @ easy pace

- 600-800m worth of easy swimming

- Hour of cycling

- Circuit with a 5 min run then perform…

  1. 100m Run
  2. Body Squats x 20
  3. 100m Run
  4. Pushups x15
  5. 100m Run
  6. Walking Lunges x20
  7. 100m Run
  8. V-sits x20
  9. 100m Run
  10. L-Overs x15
  11. 100m Run
  12. Low Level Bicycle 30 seconds

and a 5 min run to finish it off.

Phase 2 

Before entering into Phase 2 it’s always good to test the athlete with a 6 or 8 minute test run on the track and record the distance.  (Test runs can also be done with a Heart Rate Monitor.  Record finishing heart rate for an approx. max heart rate value.)

Example:    Athlete (A)   6 min test run :  1750 meters = 21 sec pace per 100m (with a HR of 188bpm)

This pace will serve as their vVO2 Max pace.  (Velocity at VO2 max)

From there we can start implementing Lactate Threshold work by taking the 21 sec per 100m and dividing it by 85%.

 21/.85= 25 sec pace per 100m or 6:40 min per mile pace

This values is our Lactate Threshold pace or  80%-85% Max HR Range

150bpm -160bpm LT Range

Example Workouts

- 3x 8 min @ 6:40 mile pace or 80-85% HR w/ 1-2 min rec

- 20 min @ 6:40 mile pace or 80-85% HR

Also it is good to know HR ranges so you can be creative and do more sports specific work like the following.

- 4x 5 min @ 80-85% HR w/ 1-2 min rec through a multi-directional course using Crossovers, shuffles, backwards running, and ball handing skills.

Another workout I like to include in this phase is Extensive Interval Training à la Charlie Francis.  (  a forum with a lot of information)

Extensive interval runs are done at 75% of max speed (Not vVO2 Max) with sufficient recoveries.  This protocol improves efficiency and moves the athlete closer to sports specific speed.

Example:     Athlete (A)  Personal Best 100m sprint = 12 seconds

12/.75=  16 sec pace per 100m


- 15-20 x 100m @ 16 sec pace w/ 1-2 min jog/walk recovery

Phase 3

We would next transition into Billat Intervals.  Also known as 15-15, 30-30, 60-60.  These intervals will improve aerobic efficiency, improve vVO2 pace, and will also lower heart rates during sub-maximum exercises.

The work out is done using the athlete’s vVO2 max pace.  Hopefully by Phase 3  Ahtlete (A) would retest and now has a

20.5 sec pace per 100m vVO2 max pace

This will be the pace used during the following workouts:

10-15 mins of..

-15 seconds on, 15 seconds off

-30 seconds on, 30 seconds off

-60 seconds on, 60 seconds off

or you can do 2 sets of 8x 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off , with 2-3 min recovery b/t the sets.

NEXT on Soccer Conditioning Overview.  Will be Part 3 on Speed Training and Part 4 on Strength.