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How To Get Match-Fit For Football!

In football, one of the most important things a player can do is last a full 90 minutes playing at a high intensity. You can be the most technical, strongest, and fastest player on the pitch, but if you are always out of energy, nobody is going to be able to see what you can do... That's why fitness is one of the key attributes all footballers can have, it's the gel that brings everything else together. When it comes to fitness in football there at two key types we need to understand and are going to talk about today, the first is steady-state fitness and the second is high-intensity fitness. Both are as important as one another and by the end of this blog, you should get a better idea of how fitness works and how you can build your own to strive on the pitch!

Steady-state fitness

We are going to begin by talking about steady-state fitness, a basic understanding of this is that steady-state cardio is training at an endurance pace – a continuous, steady, moderate effort that is sustained for an extended period of time, this means we are training at a pace that we can last for a long time. As footballers, we are going to focus today specifically on running, this type of running is going to give you the base fitness you need to be able to last a full 90-minute match. Typically when training for steady-state fitness your heart rate should be anywhere from 140 to 160 BPM. This is because at this heart rate you can still control your breathing and run for a long time. For footballers, the optimal distance you want to be running to improve steady-state cardio is anywhere from 4 to 6 miles, this is due to the average time being about 40 to 50 minutes (half a match).

High-Intensity fitness

As we all know, football is a game where the speed of play is always changing, and that's why its important that you are able to deal with the different speeds and demands of the game. This is where high-intensity fitness comes into play, high intensity training is a way of getting your body used to the demands of a match, the way we do this is by working on anaerobic exercises (sprinting) and keeping rest time very short between reps, by doing this we are training the body to recover for our sprints faster and not needing so long to rest in between sprints. This is obviously key for footballers as in a match the game is always going from a fast pace to a slow pace.

Training Guide

Hopefully, by now you have a better understanding or what steady-state fitness and high intensity fitness is. But we also need to know when to train them and for how long, below I have created a mini-training plan for what an in-season fitness program for footballers might look like. Take into consideration that this is just a fitness plan and does not take into consideration any other training you might have such as team training, gym workouts or sprinting sessions.



4-5 mile run at 150BPM


20, 30, and 40-meter shuttle runs - 5 sets - 1-minute rest between sets

50-meter sprints - 6 reps - 45-second rest between reps


Rest Day


3-4 mile run at 160 -170BPM


Find a pitch and do jog width sprint length drill - 3 times round pitch = 1 set, complete 3 sets

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