Save your Legs and Build Endurance

By Chris “Trainer” Gorres (

Newton’s law states that for every force, there is an equal and opposite force.   For soccer athletes, that means that every time your foot hits the ground, the ground is actually hitting you.  Each impact is a collision that your body has to absorb.  While it may not seem significant, if you add up all of the training volume from fitness sessions, practice sessions, games, pick up, etc.  that can be a heavy toll on the body.  In order to stay healthy and keep yourself fresh for the season, you have to budget your ground contacts.  Other than games and practices, high intensity activities like sprinting and plyometrics should be the only other time your feet hit the ground during training.  Don’t waste your ground contacts on slow runs of 30+ minutes.  While these are necessary for building cardio endurance, the overall volume can do more harm than good.

Here are 3 cross training options that will help you build the necessary endurance while keeping your feet off the ground:

1.    Rowing.  Anyone who has ever done an intense rowing workout will tell you that this will absolutely kick your butt!  The added benefit of rowing is that it will develop the back muscles to help with posture and increase overall upper body strength.  Find a steady tempo and work on your form in the beginning.  Push with your legs and pull with your arms while maintaining a tall spine.   

The Workout: Row 5 x 500m with 2 minutes rest in between sets.  Record your times and try to improve each week.  Under 2 minutes to finish 500m is a great score!

2.    Biking.  This can be done on an exercise bike in the gym or on a real bike outside which is much more fun.  Biking is a great activity for building leg strength and endurance while saving the legs and back from the impact of the ground.  

The Workout: Bike for 5 minutes hard and 3 minutes easy for recovery.  Repeat this 4 times for an overall time of 32 minutes on the bike.  Record your distance covered in the 5 minutes and try to beat it each time.  As you get better, your work density will improve, meaning that you will cover more distance over 5 minutes.  This is the number you should focus on instead of trying to increase work duration.  

3.    Swimming.  This is another great activity that will help you develop the lungs and cardio endurance with the added bonus of building shoulder strength and coordination.  I’ll break this down into 2 separate workouts.

The Workout:

For proficient swimmers

4 x 100m easy swim with 1 minute rest in between set
4 x 200m swim with 2 minute rest in between
8 x 50m hard swim with 30 seconds rest in between

For non-swimmers

8 x 50m kickboard with 2 minutes rest in between
4 x 100m high knee run with 1 minute rest in between