How To Increase Stamina For Soccer


Post title over image of soccer players training

Increasing your stamina for soccer can be a daunting task, especially when you think that you have to run for 90 minutes and still be fine at the end of it. You may also have found that just running doesn’t increase your stamina for soccer. This is because the energy systems at work for soccer are a little more complicated. There are effective ways and not so helpful ways to increase your stamina for this sport.

To increase stamina for soccer, you will have to improve fitness levels for both the anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. Both systems play a crucial role in supporting the other. Incorporating HIIT aerobic workouts would be the best method to increase overall stamina for soccer.

This article will first show you how the body functions and uses energy when playing soccer. Once we know that, we’ll need to understand the energy systems, as well as what types of exercise there is. I’ll then show you how to combine them to create better overall stamina for soccer. 

If you take in everything that’s in this article and put it into practice, you will quickly feel your stamina improve and see a dramatic increase in your ability on the soccer field because of it.

A fitter player is a better player!

Why Stamina Is Crucial for Soccer Players

Professional soccer is arguably a sport that requires some of the fittest players on the planet.

playing soccer

For 90 minutes, a player has to sprint up and down a 120m (131 yards) grass field or pitch, zig-zagging, stopping, reversing, kicking, jumping, and outmaneuvering other players. 

Soccer players cover so much ground in a match that it equates to a 10km (6mile) run every time they step out onto the field.

Compared to other professional sports, the only other athletes that come close to professional soccer players are marathon runners, ironman triathletes, pro cyclists, and cross country skiers. 

Soccer players are some of the world’s fittest athletes, but their fitness relies not just on one aspect or factor. Their fitness incorporates both speed, stamina, agility, and strength. 

For the most part, when an individual trains, they will be focusing on one of these aspects of exercise (which we will cover below). However, a soccer player needs to incorporate them all,

To get fit for soccer; one would need to understand what energy processes are taking place within the body to train and exercise utilizing these systems, hence making them fitter and ready for soccer. 

One thing to note is that unlike other sports, soccer is an explosive sport. This means the players must be able to explode with intensity from a stationary position.

Furthermore, they do more sprinting than jogging, making the game quick and the level of fitness more intense.

Soccer players have to produce, at a split seconds notice, intense short bursts of speed, quickly change direction, and conduct very skillful actions.

And they must do all this while moving at high speed

What Type of Exercise Is Soccer?

As I just mentioned, there are four factors that will play a role in soccer in terms of fitness:

  • stamina, 
  • speed, 
  • dexterity, 
  • and strength 

Let’s look at these exercises to see what categories we would place soccer in. 

Classifying Exercise Into Four Areas

As a whole, we can classify exercise into four main categories. 

They are:

  • Endurance
  • Strength
  • Balance 
  • Flexibility

You can probably quickly see that soccer would fall under all of these categories, so what is the best way to build stamina and fitness for soccer?

To find the answer to that, we need to look at what energy systems are at work in soccer.

We can then combine that with one or more of these exercise categories. We will then be able to determine the best way to get fit and build stamina for soccer.

The Energy Systems Soccer Uses

The body uses only two energy systems to produce energy. Those systems are the anaerobic and aerobic systems.

anaerobic vs aerobic description
Anaerobic Vs Aerobic

Both of them function very differently from one another, and we have to consider which one soccer utilizes the most. 

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise utilizes oxygen to break down glucose to provide energy to the body. Aerobic exercise is sustained for long periods of time (usually longer than 10 minutes), is continuous, and somewhat slow going from moderate to high intensity.

This type of energy system enhances cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Therefore, this type of exercise will be prevalent when the individual does the same activity at the same intensity level for a prolonged period. 

Hence we can categorize sports such as running, swimming, and cycling as aerobic exercise.

If we want to compare this to soccer, the only comparison we can make is that a soccer player is continuously running for 90 minutes. 

Therefore a soccer player has to be aerobically fit to endure 90 minutes of continuous running.

However, we now know that soccer players must also sustain fast, explosive movements in addition to running continuously for 90 minutes.

Therefore, the aerobic energy system will not be the central energy system that soccer players need to sustain fast, explosive stamina. 

Anaerobic Exercise

Anaerobic exercise means “without oxygen.” This means that this energy system in the body breaks down glucose without the use of oxygen. Anaerobic exercise is more intense yet shorter in duration than that of its counterpart aerobic exercise.

In a little more detail, glucose is converted to ATP via the process of glycolysis. A bi-product of this process is lactic acid, which is produced at an increased rate during this type of exercise.

Placing this description alongside soccer, we can see that the two coincide quite well with one another.

Anaerobic exercise is a fast-paced, explosive exercise sustained for a short duration, and soccer, in regards to its momentum, is the same.

Understanding How to Get Fit and Increase Stamina for Soccer

We now understand that a soccer player has to train, or at least have the capacity to run, for a sustained period of time (90 minutes – the length of a soccer game).

Because of this, one aspect of training should encompass aerobic exercise. 

However, soccer utilizes short, powerful bouts of sprinting continuously.

This requires the understanding that if you want to get fit and have increased stamina for soccer, you will have to train the anaerobic energy system more frequently than you train the aerobic system. 

Therefore to build stamina (or fitness) for soccer, a player must exercise using both energy systems.

Considering the four types of exercise and considering the principles of soccer, we will need to train endurance and strength utilizing the anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. 

What Type of Exercise (Fitness Program) Can We Use to Increase the Anaerobic System?

By utilizing anaerobic exercise, the body can get fitter and stronger more quickly.

soccer training session

However, the caveat is that it is much more taxing on the body, and just because you are fit in terms of your body being able to utilize the anaerobic energy system effectively, this does not mean you will have prolonged stamina over a prolonged period of time.

Take into consideration and keep in mind the anaerobic energy system does not use oxygen to process energy.

When you are fit in this regard, it does not necessarily mean you will be able to do an activity for a sustained period of time.

The two energy systems are different, and even though they overlap, they can never be replaced by the other. 

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)

In terms of building stamina (endurance) for soccer in terms of anaerobic exercise, the best possible way to do that would be to utilize a HIIT program.

HIIT is based on a strategy where you push your body to the extreme for a short period and then take a break. This type of workout is fast-paced, explosive training. 

For example, sprinting for as long and as hard as you can and then rest for 30 seconds, repeating the process till exhaustion.

In terms of the principles of soccer and the underlying energy systems, using HIIT will aid you in building stamina for the anaerobic energy system. 

To make this as easy as possible for you, I’ve created and included a 30-Day Soccer-focused HIIT fitness program as part of my Soccer Fitness Guide.

This fitness program follows the same techniques that all the great soccer professionals use and lays them out in a clear, daily step-by-step format that you can easily follow and see your fitness and stamina dramatically improve over the course of just one month.

Many soccer players have seen the benefit of following this program and have not looked back.

If you’re serious about improving your stamina and being a better player, then you need to get hold of this and see how much of a difference it can make.

No-one ever regretted improving their fitness.

soccer fitness ebook

I’ll add a link to this again for you at the end of this article. Or you can click this one here, and it will provide you with more details in a new tab for you to check out later.

Types of HIIT Training Programs to Increase Stamina for Soccer

There are many types of HIIT training programs utilizing calisthenics (bodyweight), actual weights (dumbbells and barbells), machines, and more.

However, we have to keep in mind that soccer requires the power and explosiveness to come from the legs, so basing a HIIT training program where you would use weights and train your upper body would not benefit a soccer player at all.

It would not increase his overall stamina on the pitch. 

Hence the best type of HIIT program would be a program or exercise that uses the legs in an explosive fast manner.

We could then overlook all the other HIIT programs and create HIIT workouts based on sprinting and stopping. 

Here’s an example:

HIIT WorkoutWork / Rest IntervalsSetsTotal DurationBenefits
Sprint30 sec / 4min4 – 618 – 27 minThis calls for maximum effort, and although the rest period is long, it should give you time to recover so you can push harder.
Short Sprint8 sec / 12 sec6020 minThis type of workout is best used for conditioning
One-to-one Sprint30 sec / 30 sec1010 minThis is a moderate HIIT workout and can be easily adapted depending on your needs
Tempo Sprints40-yard sprint / Walk backmax10 minThis is one of the most effective workouts for conditioning
Soccer Sprints (Sports Specific)15 sec / 35 sec7 – 106 – 8 minYou can simulate a live situation by changing the time durations’ frequency to match a real game more effectively in terms of soccer.
HIIT soccer stamina workout table

What Type of Exercise (Fitness Program) Can We Use to Increase the Aerobic System

Even though the anaerobic energy system plays a much larger role in the principles of soccer, you should not ignore aerobic fitness.

If you want overall stamina, you will need to exercise this system so that your body can utilize oxygen properly in order for you to perform (in this case, run) more consistently for an extended period. 

General Aerobic Exercise (running and cycling)

We know from the brief explanation that we should classify aerobic exercise as an individual sustaining the same activity over a period of time. Again, we need to relate this to soccer and its principles. 

There would be two effective forms of aerobic exercise that would increase overall stamina for the aerobic system: running and cycling. 

Types of aerobic programs to increase stamina for soccer (cycling)

Your first thought about this is that cycling does not play a part in soccer, and, obviously, you would be correct; however, remember that the body adapts very quickly to any fitness regimen you give it, and the ability to get fit is based on how hard your body has to work. 

Therefore, because cycling utilizes the same major muscle groups as running, you can incorporate it to shock the system, increasing fitness levels.

And if you want more information about this, check out my article where I explain how cycling will actually improve your overall running stamina (endurance), which you need for soccer.

Types of Aerobic Programs to Increase Stamina for Soccer (Running)

Without going into too much detail, you will have to run if you want to increase your running stamina.

Furthermore, if you want to improve your overall aerobic systems fitness level for running, you will need to run for an extended time.

Soccer players basically run non-stop for 90 minutes. As we said, they average about 10km (6 miles) every time they step onto the field. 

The first step in being able to run 90 minutes is to exercise being able to run for 90 minutes.

It may seem a bit obvious, but if you can withstand a workout that has you running for 90 minutes, you will be one step closer to being more fit and having more stamina for soccer. 

But be careful with this, because as I showed in my article – Is long-distance running good for soccer? – too much running can actually be detrimental rather than beneficial to a soccer player.

Can You Combine Aerobic and Anaerobic Training, and Does It Relate to Soccer?

I’ve now shown you that soccer uses both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems in its principles of fitness.

Although soccer players use the anaerobic system more, you will need to have a greater overall level of fitness (aerobic fitness) to last for the duration of a game. 

One of the best possible ways to increase your stamina level for soccer would be to implement both types of fitness together, both anaerobic and aerobic. 

soccer player training

One thing to note is that this article covers how to increase stamina levels for soccer and not how to get fit quickly.

If you want to know more about getting fit fast, I covered that in my recent article – how to get in shape for soccer FAST.

Again, stamina is relative in terms of soccer because you require the use of both energy systems.

An individual wanting to increase their stamina must be of a certain fitness level. Some people may only be at the stage where they are able to train the energy systems separately

Individuals who have a basic level of fitness can interchange the systems and the workouts that are best suited for them, and this will get them the best results. 

HIIT Aerobic Training 

If you are fit enough and already play soccer fairly regularly, you will benefit most from incorporating both HIIT (anaerobic) with aerobic workouts together, increasing your fitness for both and, therefore, your overall stamina for soccer. 

HIIT definition

The principle is relatively simple. 

You would follow a HIIT program, but instead of resting or stopping on your days off, you would incorporate “active recovery” times into your training.

This is precisely what I have done with the 30-day soccer fitness program that is included within my Soccer Fitness Guide that you can get hold of here.

I have specifically designed it for soccer players and the unique demands placed upon them on the soccer field.

This type of approach to fitness implements both energy systems; however, as I’ve mentioned before, the caveat is that it can be taxing at times.

Individuals who don’t have a basic level of fitness may not be able to sustain this type of training. 

These individuals should increase their stamina through anaerobic exercise since they would have to stop and rest. Remember that aerobic exercise is for sustained periods of time (jogging).

The same could be done with cycling.

You would cycle at a moderate to a high-intensity level, breaking out every so often to incorporate HIIT into the workout. This would again increase stamina for both energy systems; it would also increase stamina for running and increase overall stamina for soccer. 

Moving Forward

Soccer is arguably one of the most challenging professional sports in the world when it comes to the demand for fitness on the body and utilizes two energy systems at its core. At the same time that most other sports only use one.

These energy systems are the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. For increased stamina and fitness, the body needs to be fit and effectively use both these energy systems.

Training just one will not effectively train the other, and hence being fit at the one will not make you fit at the other. 

So in terms of increasing your stamina, it would depend on how fit you are and which energy systems you are more fit at.

Understanding this, you would then need to exercise each system accordingly and perhaps one more than the other utilizing specific programs (HIIT or general aerobic exercise). 

If you are fit enough, you should incorporate both HIIT and aerobic exercise, increasing your stamina dramatically, effectively, and quickly. 

The best and most straightforward way to do that is to follow a dedicated fitness program designed specifically for soccer players.

The Soccer Fitness Guide incorporates everything you need all in one place, and you can even begin today!

As I said above, you will never regret improving your fitness or stamina.

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Ben

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Sign up to the yoursoccerhome.com newsletter here or check out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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