For a long time I’ve enjoyed both biking and playing soccer, but only recently did I consider combining the two. And since then I’ve realized that biking really is great for soccer players for multiple reasons that I want to share with you here.
After looking back over my experience and also researching what the experts say about the benefits of biking I’ve narrowed it down to 9 reasons. Here are the reasons biking is great for soccer players:
- It can work on multiple muscles throughout the body
- It has been shown to improve stamina
- It can be as easy or hard as you like
- It can burn calories and get rid of excess weight
- It can help you relax
- It can sharpen your thinking
- It can help with recovery
- It’s easy and straight forward
- You can exercise on the go
Whether you prefer to call it biking or cycling, let’s look at each of these reasons in more detail, and you will soon see how effective biking can be at making you a much better soccer player.
If you also want to understand why long-distance running can be detrimental for soccer players have a look at my article – Why Long Distance Running Is NOT Good for Soccer. (Click on the article title to go straight to the article)
1. It Can Work on Multiple Muscles Throughout the Body
The first reason why biking is great for soccer players is that it has such a positive impact on the muscles throughout the body.
Every soccer player needs to be at the peak of health and physical fitness to be able to perform at their best. And part of achieving that level of health and fitness is to train in a way that pushes your body towards that level. The beauty of biking is that it will do this.
The health benefits of regular cycling have been said to include:
- increased cardiovascular fitness
- increased muscle strength and flexibility
- improved joint mobility
- decreased stress levels
- improved posture and coordination
- strengthened bones
- decreased body fat levels
- prevention or management of disease
- reduced anxiety and depression. [source]
This is a great list of things to be able to achieve simply by using one form of exercise. There are not many other activities that could make the same claims.
A Personal Tip
To really take advantage of the potential of biking I would recommend you follow a workout program that gives you some clear direction to your training. Just sitting on a bike and pedaling is not bad but you will achieve your goals quicker by following a format laid out by someone with a little more experience.
This is why I created Your Soccer Fitness Guide.
If you want to be a great soccer player, you need to be at the top of your fitness game, and the beauty of the fitness program included in this guide is that it helps you reach your fitness goals in only 30 days.
I recommend you check this out today and start moving towards being the best and fittest player you can be.
A great soccer player is a fit soccer player.
2. It Has Been Shown to Improve Stamina
To be a good soccer player you need to be able to play at your best for the entire length of a soccer game. And playing soccer well for at least 90 minutes at a time takes stamina.
Thankfully biking is a great way to increase your stamina. [source]
Because of the nature of biking it is easier than a lot of other activities to maintain it for long periods of time. The benefit of sitting while cycling, as well as the fact that it is a low impact activity, means your body can cope with extended amounts of time on a bike.
This extended time working out on a bike gives you the maximum chance to increase your endurance and allows for sustained stamina training. [source]
It has also been shown that regular cycling improves efficiency in your heart and lungs which will increase your stamina on the soccer field. [source] Your heart and lungs are what your body relies on to be able to keep going throughout a soccer game. The greater their capacity to keep going then the greater your capacity will be to keep going.
A Personal Tip
Most of us need some help to keep working towards out fitness goals and if you don’t have one already I would recommend you get hold of a fitness tracker to help you do this.
I have written a comparison here for my 5 Best Fitness Trackers for Soccer Players but for this specific scenario, I would also recommend getting hold of this GPS fitness vest from StatSports. It collects all the data you need to see how you are performing and shows you what to do to keep getting better. Find more out about it in my review of GPS fitness vests here.
3. It Can Be as Easy or Hard as You Like
Another reason why biking is so good for soccer players is that you can make it as easy or as hard as you like. If you are already at a high level of strength and fitness there’s always another hill you can cycle up or a higher level of resistance you can set on a stationary bike.
But equally, biking is great for beginners as you can set your bike to a low level of resistance and build up from there or bike outside on a flat road until you are ready for something harder.
Using a bike for a workout gives you the capability of choosing your level based on what stage you are at. Just remember, wherever you are at in fitness keep pushing and challenging your self to do a little bit more every day. Don’t plateau or stagnate at one level. Next time you get on the bike, push yourself to be the best you can.
4. It Can Burns Calories and Get Rid of Excess Weight
Now let me start this one by saying that biking is not the best way to lose weight or burn calories as you spend most of the time sitting down, but that doesn’t mean it does nothing in this area.
And as a form of exercise that offers so many other benefits, it’s good to know that it does offer some benefit in this area. You don’t want to have to find time for a different workout in the day just to work on this area.
If your a soccer player who knows you need to lose some weight to be at peak physical fitness then cycling is still a great way to do this while combining it with the multiple other benefits you get from it.
A study by Harvard University showed that:
“Biking at a moderate speed of 12 to 13.9 miles per hour will cause a 155-pound person to burn 298 calories in 30 minutes. At a faster rate of 14 to 15.9 miles per hour, a person of the same weight will burn 372 calories.”Healthline.com
You can see from these results that cycling for just 30 minutes will cause your body to burn a significant amount of calories possibly helping you lose any excess weight. And biking at a faster rate will help you burn more calories in the same space of time.
5. It Can Help You Relax
Another area where biking can have a positive effect on a soccer player is on the mental side of the game.
Although a lot of soccer revolves around the physical attributes of the players there is a lot to be said about the importance of a player’s mentality as well.
You can take the best player in the world when it comes to skills or ball control, but if they go into a game unsure of themselves, anxious about every decision and unfocused they could end up as the least effective player on the team.
There are many things in life that can cause a player to feel stressed or anxious as they walk onto the soccer field and any soccer player should do all they can to reduce this.
“Self-Esteem, depression, anxiety, and stress are all positively affected through exercise, but the nature of cycling has been shown to be one of the most effective activities for the head and heart.”MenslineAus
This quote above states that biking is one of the most effective ways of positively affecting any stresses or anxiety a player may be experiencing before or during a game. If biking can help this at all then it may be worth giving it a go not only to improve your soccer abilities but your general mental wellbeing as well.
6. It Can Sharpen Your Thinking
Another area that is important to be proficient at as a soccer player is the ability to think clearly at the moment.
There are many times in a game where the player will be required to make a split second decision. Should they run towards the ball or stick with the opponent next to them? Should they pass forwards or back? Should they shoot to the left or the right of the goalie?
These decisions can make the difference between winning or losing a game.
Thankfully biking has been shown to sharpen a person’s thinking by literally altering their brain both structurally and functionally. [source]
A recent study of people who were chosen for a six-month exercise program using stationary bikes showed that “practicing pedaling on a regular basis increased the integrity of white matter fiber tracts in…brains.” This white matter connects different parts of the brain and affects the speed of a person’s thinking and their cognitive abilities. [source]
This means that biking regularly can improve a soccer player’s ability to think quickly and that improvement can directly affect the speed they make decisions of the soccer field.
7. It Can Help With Recovery
Biking is a great way to help with recovery from an injury as well as it’s low impact and easy on your joints. [source]
If you’ve recently picked up an injury while playing soccer you need to aid your body in recovering as quickly and as effectively as you can. A key part of that is not doing anything that is going to make your injury worse.
Because you are sat down while cycling and your legs are spinning round in a steady and rhythmic manner there is very little high impact activity going on. This is important because high impact activities have been shown to be more likely to cause injury than low impact activities. [source]
The last thing you need is another injury, but you also don;t want to lose the level of fitness that you already have. Biking is an effective way of striking a balance between the two.
8. It’s Easy and Straight Forward
Another great things about biking for soccer players is that biking is so easy and straight forward to pick up.
My guess is that most of you reading this can’t name more than 5 people you know who can’t ride a bike. In my case, it’s only one (My sister! Despite multiple people trying to teach her!). The vast majority of us learned to ride a bike as a kid and it’s stereotypically one of those skills that you never forget.
In fact, the organization YouGov did a survey of US adults asking how often they ride a bike. Although over 50 percent of those asked said they never ride a bike, the results showed that only 5.8 percent of those asked said they didn’t know how to ride a bike. This suggests that almost 95 percent of the American population is capable of riding a bike if they wished to do so.
As a soccer player, biking is great because even if you haven’t done it in a long time you can get hold of a bike reasonably easily and you can get on it and start working out in next to no time at all.
9. You Can Exercise on the Go
The last reason why I believe biking is great is that it is an exercise that you can easily incorporate into your day.
Most of us have times in the day where we have to travel a relatively short distance to be somewhere or get something. That may be a commute to work or school, a trip to the store, or going over to a friend’s house for an hour. Whatever it is, next time you go, try going on your bike instead of walking, using your car or any other mode of transport.
It may take a little more planning at first, but you’ll soon get used to it. Although, unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me right now, in my previous job I used to cycle to work and back every day. I really enjoyed it and found it a great way to fit in an extra two workouts each day without losing any time as I had to make that commute one way or another anyway.
Try and cycle anywhere you need to go as often as possible and fit in an exercise on the go.
A Bike Workout for Soccer Players
Soccer is full of short, sudden bursts of energy. That may be chasing an opponent who has the ball, turning to sprint after the ball when a player kicked it past you or trying to beat a player to the ball in front of you. Because this type of activity is common in a soccer game it’s important to replicate this in training. This will really prepare your body well for the soccer games ahead.
The best type of workout I’ve come across that replicates this is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) which alternates between high-intensity training and low-intensity training. Switching between the two levels of intensity is perfect for soccer players.
Give this workout below a try and see how you find it. And if you want more click here to check out the Aaptiv audio workout app that I mentioned above. They have a ton of different bike workouts that you can try.
Warmup: Before you begin any form of exercise. Take around 5 minutes to cycle at a reasonably comfortable pace. Make sure there’s a little bit of resistance but not too much at this stage.
Step 1: 30 seconds high intensity followed by 90-second low intensity. Go all out for 30 seconds. Give that 30 seconds all you’ve got and don’t hold back. Imagine the soccer ball is in front of you and you must get to it before your opponent. At the end of the 30 seconds slow right down for a gentle 90-second low-intensity period. Catch your breath and then go again. Repeat this stage 3 times.
Step 2: 40 seconds high intensity followed by 90-second low intensity. Again, give that 40 seconds all you’ve got remembering how much this will help you be better on the soccer field. After a period of 90-seconds at low intensity go again. Repeat this stage 3 times.
Step 3: 30 seconds high intensity followed by 90-second low intensity. Finish with another set of a high intensity 30 seconds followed by a low intensity 90 seconds. Again, give those 30 seconds all you’ve got. Repeat this stage 3 times.
Step 4: Take 3 minutes to do a warm down with a low-intensity session on the bike.
Type of Bike Workout That’s Best for Soccer Players
As you work out on the bike remember the type of workout that is best for soccer players. Short, intense bursts of activity are best for soccer players as this most accurately refelts what your body will experience during a soccer game.
Although there is a benefit with combining these with some sort of endurance training when your on the bike try to focus on that short, high intensity activity not hours of long cycle rides.
I hope this article has shown you how great biking can be for a soccer player. Unfortunately, long-distance running isn’t helpful for soccer players, and you can find out why in this article I wrote.
To find more ways to improve as a soccer player check one of these other articles I’ve written:
Click here to see my article – How to Juggle a Soccer Ball: 4 Practice Drills
or click here to see my article: 21 Soccer Tips: For Every Player and Position
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