Attaining great soccer player performance with radical fitness training

Statistics show that the average soccer player covers a distance of 10km each game.

Constantly travelling backwards and forwards up and down the pitch at different tempos, in addition to their other functional activities of shooting, jumping, cutting, making and receiving tackles, as well as absorbing full body contact.

In fact soccer today has never been more demanding at professional and amateur level, and requires acceptional strength, endurance, flexibility, speed, agility and quickness.

Just recently a live televised Scottish soccer game gave a breakdown in percentages, illustrating exactly how much time during a 90 minute game the average soccer player spent performing different tasks.

They were :

  • Standing - 17% (15 mins)

  • Walking - 42% (38 mins)

  • Jogging - 16% (14 mins)

  • Running - 25% (22 mins)
    (including sprints in multiple directions and jumping)

Another interesting statistic also calculated that players execute anywhere between 100 - 200 sprints per game

Averaging 5 - 10 metres and lasting 1 -2 seconds

Therefore a carefully implemented fitness program plays a significant role in developing these skills to their maximum potential.

The Three Energy Systems

The game of soccer primarily involves sport specific elements of acceleration, deceleration, and reactive movements in multiple planes, interspersed with light jogging and jumping.

As illustrated above.

Therefore the predominant energy system being used here is anaerobic.

What do we mean by anaerobic ?

To understand this, we need to get a better picture of the three main energy systems that govern how the body physiologically behaves and reacts to different changes of movements and actions during a game.

They are :

  • ATP / PC System (Phosphogen System)

  • Anaerobic System (Lactic Acid System)

  • Aerobic System>

APC / PC System

The APC / PC system is created by a chemical reaction within the body combining high energy Adenosine Tri-phosphate (APC) and Creatine Phosphate (CP).

This system allows the athlete or soccer player to explosively move for a short period of 8-10 seconds, such as sprinting into space to receive a ball etc.

This system always supports short and dynamic powerful movements.

Although It does not require oxygen to initiate the forces exhibited. Oxygen is never the less instrumental in creating APC reserves after these short intense bursts of energy, and the whole system operates on a sharing basis.

Where the utilization of oxygen where needed such as in easy running, suddenly realises that it cannot feed the explosive movement of a sprint. And relies on the support of the phosphate system to help it transform into a power base.

Once this power move has been executed, the APC energy reserves need to be replenished, and the oxygen system returns the compliment by topping it up to its original level.

In fitness terms this is a very important aspect of soccer conditioning, and plays a vital role in developing an efficient power base that can quickly recover during peak moments of the game.

Eventually by educating the oxygen (aerobic system) to better serve the APC system through interval training, you will see dramatic results in recovery.

Anaerobic System

Whenever a player is required to perform a combination of demanding physical tasks of more than 10 seconds, up to a maximum of 90 - 120 seconds. The Anaerobic (Lactic Acid System) automatically takes over from the phosphate system, and relies on glycogen stored within the muscles as its fuel base. Where carbohydrates are converted to ATP.

Unfortunatly this system also produces Lactic Acid. A waste product formed through chemical reactions within the body, while performing at intense levels for the durations stated.

For the unconditioned player this can create problems with regard to fatigue setting in early during a game.

Yet for well conditioned soccer players, although there is a build up of lactic acid, levels are not considerable and do not adversely effect performance.

An example of this energy system would be a soccer player forced to out manouvre an opponent before sprinting into space to jump and head the ball down to a team mate. Then lightly jogging backwards to take up another position.

To help nullify and control the production of lactic Acid, coaches and soccer players need to incorporate Acyclic Anaerobic Endurance conditioning into their fitness regime on a regular basis. This form of training involves performing intervals at very high intensities with intermittent low intensity active recovery, all exercises mimicking game situations.

Aerobic System

The aerobic system relies on oxygen as its main energy source, and is a vital ingredient for soccer players to be able to sustain incessant running and jogging throughout a 90 minute game.

Although aerobic metabolism contributes only 20% - 30% of the total energy output required of the 90 minutes, it should still play an integral part in any soccer teams training. In so far as it will assist in the swift recovery from intense bursts of dynamic sprints or jumps etc.

Estimating your Resting and Maximum Heart Rates

A soccer player looking to excel and achieve the full benefits of working in any of the above energy systems, needs an estimate of their Resting and Maximum Heart Rates.

As these play an important role in predicting present and future fitness, to perform at a high level.

Resting Heart Rate

is the amount of times your heart beats for one minute in a relaxed and stationary position. Where the lower the figure the fitter you are.

For example, average beats per minute are 70 BPM for men and 75BPM for women, so to register RHR well under these figures is a soccer players prime goal.

The lowest RHR ever recorded for an elite athlete is an unbelievable 28 BPM !! By Miguel Indurain a Tour De France Cyclist.

Resting Heart Rate should be measured first thing in the morning by positioning your index and middle finger over your Radial Artery and applying pressure. The Radial Artery is located on the underside of your wrist (left or right), on the outside of the wrist in the supernated position, ( eg: left hand palm up left side )

The simple and most economical way to do this is to set a stopwatch for 10 secs and count the beats, then multiply that figure by 6.

This gives you your RHR over 60 second ( 1 min)

Maximum Heart Rate

Represents the ability of the heart to achieve the maximum beats possible within 1 minute (BPM), and enables you to calculate higher and lower work loads as a percentage of that figure.

This helps soccer players gauge training intensity within specified parameters, and assists in keeping performance at optimal levels.

One of the best and simplest formulas for working out your Max Heart Rate, involves subtracting half your age from the sum of 205 BPM and then subtracting your resting heart rate from that figure. This will give you your Working Heart Rate (WHR).

You then multiply the WHR by a percentage of both the Lower and Higher intensities, and add the RHR to these figures, to give you more or less an ideal training zone to work in.

Calculating Maximum Heart Rate

Example : based on a male soccer player 25 years of age, and a RHR of 60bpm


MAX HEART RATE = 205 - 12.5 (50% AGE) = 192.50 BPM

WORKING HEART RATE = 192.50 - 60 (RHR) = 132.50 BPM

LOW INTENSITY RANGE = 132.50 X 65% = 86.125 86.125 + 60 = 146.125

HIGH INTENSITY RANGE = 132.50 X 90% = 119.25 119.25 + 60 = 179.25

To make things easier and quicker, use the Heart Rate Calculator below

Anatomical Adaptation

Before any specific form of soccer training programme can begin, all muscle groups need to be carefully acclimatised to the rigours of explosive movements by gradually increasing weight and cardio respiratory endurance loads.

For that purpose circuit training is the ideal vehicle to ease and progress strength and endurance into the soccer players training over a 5-6 week period.

Although preference should be given to strength, as it helps in the transition to maximum strength exercises.

Because of its nature, the soccer season in the uk runs from mid/late August to mid May and takes up nearly 10 months of the year. This means that after a break of between 2-3 weeks and once the season has ended, we are left with just over 5-6 weeks to prepare and be ready for the start of the new season.

Therefore the bulk of the circuit training needs to be condensed into the first two weeks, gradually tapering down the volume of work and introducing soccer specific intervals.

Running alongside the other important elements such as strength and speed etc.

The circuit must include nearly all muscle groups involved in the playing of soccer, namely the prime movers. And comprise of between 8-10 stations.

Each station should be arranged in either a circle or a square, and house a compound exercise for both the upper and lower body, preferably incorporating the core.

Compound indicating that more than one muscle group is utilised during the activity. And are preferred over machines which tend to isolate muscles, which restrict the body in working as a unit.

Compound exercises are preferred over machines, as machines tend to only isolate one muscle at a time, restricting the body to work as a unit.

A training sequence of alternating between muscle groups is also advised as this helps in far better recovery rates and cuts down on fatigue setting in.

With regards to workloads, training needs to be at a medium to high intensity, whereby the soccer player is not totally exhausted or uncomfortable. Especially in the first couple of weeks where the main focus is to run the body in, so as to avoid extreme bouts of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness)

Equipment can be used after the first few sessions, so long as the weight is between 10 - 60% of your 1 Rep Max. These can include a multitude of different implements ranging from dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, rubber bands, medicine balls, benches, swiss balls and not forgetting bodyweightexercises.

Though for the first few sessions I would recommend staying with bodyweight, before progressing to equipment.

A practical guide to a circuit training programme for an experienced soccer player is shown below


Duration of AA 5-6 weeks

Load (if weights are used) 10 - 60% (of 1 rep maximum)

No stations per circuit 8-10

No circuits per session 3-5

Total time for circuits 30-40 mins

Rest interval between exercises 60 secs

Rest interval between circuits 1-2 mins

Frequency per week 4-1 (tappering down by one session each week especially in pre season training)

Basic Pre Season Circuit Session for the first 3 - 4 sessions of week 1 using minimal equipment


  1. Squats
    (glutes - hamstrings - core)

  2. Press Ups
    (chest - deltoids - triceps - core)

  3. Horizontal pull ups on bar
    (biceps - latisimus dorsi - trapezius)

  4. Glute / Hamstring raises (on box)
    (hamstrings - glutes - core)

  5. SkyDiver
    (erector spinae - glutes - deltoids - rhomboids)

  6. Lateral single leg squats (arms extended)
    (abductors - adductors - hamstrings - deltoids - core)

  7. Swiss Ball Russian Twists (light ball)
    (rotational muscles of the core)

  8. Single Leg Hops
    (calf muscles)

  9. Superman
    (core stability)

  10. Swiss ball roll out

Weights and movement circuit

Once a good fitness base has been achieved using the above circuit or similar, it is now time to introduce different elements into the circuit sessions by incorporating resistance training equipment and movement patterns to each station.

The purpose here is to stimulate additional muscle groups to work in unison, to further develop the soccer player for strength demands and preparation of maximum strength and cardio fitness.

A typical weights and movement circuit for a soccer player may comprise of the following for the end session of week 1 and the beginning of week 2. Perform the circuit 3 times for week 2.


  1. Reverse Lunges (barbell)

  2. Santana Dumbell Press Ups
    (chest - anterior and posterior deltoids - core)

  3. Knee lift and Heel flick shuttle run

  4. Barbell Bent Over Rows
    (biceps, erector spinae, latissimus dorsi)

  5. Table Top
    (upper and lower back - triceps - deltoids - hip - glutes -

  6. Low box lateral skips (with dumbbells)

  7. Swiss ball Reverse Flys

  8. Medicine ball Russian Twists (feet elevated)

  9. Skipping

  10. Alternate leg trusts (knee twist)
    lower abs

NOTE : At the beginning of week 3 reduce the frequency of this particular circuit down to 1.

To make way for the gradual transition into more advanced functional and Sports specific technical and physical circuits, for the remainder of the 6 week conditioning phase.

Technical and Physical Circuits with Advanced Functional Intervals

As I explained previously in Dynamic Soccer Player Ethos, in Brazil soccer players have always defined themselves as a class apart when it comes to soccer conditioning. Introducing many different elements into their training programmes such as rhythm and Samba at an early age.

In fact whenever you watch any brazilian side play, you almost get the impression that they have just turned up for an enjoyable kick about, such is their relaxed approach and attitude.

However, beneath that laid back exterior lies decades of a highly sophisticated and comprehensive training system as detailed in Jose’ Thadeu Goncalves excellent book ’ The Principles of Brazilian Soccer’.

One area that plays a significant role within the system is the inclusion of Technical and Physical Circuits.

These circuits are specifically designed to develop an increased level of ability in spontaneous decision making, reaction time, and improvisation under pressure situations. Along with keeping fitness levels at an optimal level.

Technical Circuit

Technical Circuits are usually performed straight after warm up, and should emphasize the soccer players competence of ball skills.

This circuit involves executing random movements and working with a partner at each station for anywhere between 60 sec for juniors and 180 sec for adults. Work intensity should be 60% and 90% of heart rate depending on age.

Physical Circuit

Physical Circuits are performed at the end of a main training session, and concentrate on the physical conditioning and decision making of the soccer player under more pressurised situations. Again this involves working with a ball and partner where multiple and spontaneous movement patterns are the key ingredient.

Work intensity should be between 60% to 95% of heart rate depending on age, and duration on each station 30 sec to 120 sec.

NOTE: .Both the Technical and Physical Circuits can be performed once a week on different days, and are normally performed twice in one session.

However Dynamic Soccer Player also combines both these circuits into a Three Teired Combo Circuit by including exercises, work times and intensity of both condensed and rearranged to accommodate one complete programme.

Dynamic Soccer Player Crosstrain Circuits

Crosstrain Circuits are not officially part of the Brazilian system, but have been included as an additional circuit devised by Dynamic Soccer Player.

These are combined with shortened versions of the Technical and Physical to create a unique Three Tiered Combo Circuit.

The purpose behind the Crosstrain Circuits is to further increase a soccer players physical conditioning and fuel mix capacity, by introducing intense footwork and movement patterns without the ball, with the addition of resistance training in short bursts.

Exercises here may include a host of relevant or functional movements that include different and complex scenarios using obstacles and training implements.

For example, these may include shuttle runs combined with standing partner wrestles which can simulate dynamic movement and opponents being blocked in a soccer game etc.

Training intensity is between 80% to 95% of maximum heart rate and a duration of 60 sec, (combining the two exercises of 30 sec each). The goal of each exercise is to achieve a maximum rep range within the allotted duration on each station.

An active rest period of 60 secs can take the form of easy jogging or skipping.

Taking into consideration that this is a more demanding session straight after the physical circuit, it is advised you develop a sound fitness base and technique before attemping this circuit as part of the complete Dynamic Soccer Player Circuit Programme.

This circuit is not recommended for juniors.


The Three Teired Combo Circuit involves combining the Technical, Physical and Cross Train Circuits into one complete programme.

All three circuits are shortened and condensed to accommodate soccer movement skills and physical conditioning in chronological intensity, so that both complement each other without sacrificing technique.

Each circuit has a maximum of between 6 - 8 stations with work durations of between 60 secs to 120 secs for each exercise.

Rest times range from 60 sec to 30 sec depending on circuit or fitness levels.

Weights used should be roughly 40% of 1 Rep Max

On completing each circuit there is an active rest time of 2 mins, in which the soccer player / players participates in light jogging or walking around half the perimeter of the pitch.

Eg: jogging the length and walking the width, to simulate stop / start activity in game situations.

Note : If you are working as an individual with a coach, and you possess a Polar Heart Rate Monitor or similar equipment, you can set the heart rate on the monitor so that it bleeps when you hit the lower and higher % intensities.

This is also another way of gauging rest periods, especially if you are more experienced. Where instead of having a set time as a rest period, you simply start on the next station once your heart rate returns to the lower BPM ( Beats Per Minute ) Ideally between 100 - 110 BPM

The quicker you can recover, the more efficient your heart and fitness is for soccer.


( 2mins on each station) 60 sec each if alternating between players, or full 2 mins if both players working together.

Station 1 : Soccer Player B is in the center of 4 flags. Player A makes quick passes to different open spaces in the square. Player B should react as fast as possible and pass the ball back to player A with just one touch

Station 2 : Soccer Player A passes the ball to player B who controls the pass. Player A accelerates to the ball while player B continues to the next flag. The exercise is completed until all the flags are touched. Jog back and repeat.

Station 3 : Player A performs 5 alternate leg squat trusts, jumps up and receives a pass, returning it to player B. Player A then sprints around player B and repeats exercise.

Station 4: Position 2 flags 10 yards apart. Player A does a forward roll and quickly gets up. Player B passes the ball to the right flag, player A runs to the flag, controls and returns the ball and then runs to the left flag and repeats. Player A then sprints around player B, returning to the start.

Station 5: Player A jumps over the rope and quickly goes under, then sprints to the ball, passes it back to player B and repeats.

Station 6: Players A and B pass to each other with one touch between flags using the outside of the foot. The last player to receive a pass takes a shot on goal. Repeat switching the player who takes the shots. Players should switch sides.

2 minutes active rest


( 90 secs on each station) 45 secs each if alternating between players or full 90 secs if players working together.

Station 1: Sprint diagonally with ball using outside of the foot when running, and the inside of the foot when changing direction around the flag. Jog back to the start and repeat. The player should sprint to the ball at the start.

Station 2: Soccer Player A positions themselves in a sit up position but with body elevated off the floor being supported by hands and feet. Player B then throws the ball at A to head back. The idea is for B to throw the ball slightly to the left or right of A so that they must manouvre themselves on hands and feet to return the ball.

Station 3: Pass the ball between the flags and jump over rope. Control the ball with the outside of the foot and accelerate around the cones. Repeat in opposite direction.

Station 4: Soccer Player A performs 3 jumps over a rope before controlling a ball thrown by Player B and returning it, touching the ball no more than 2 times. Repeat jumping the other way.

Station 5: Have 4 cones positioned at 4 equal distances around the centre circle. Alternate sprinting and jogging with the ball, while dribbling with the outside of the foot as you go around the centre circle, alternating at every cone. Change direction after every complete cycle.

NOTE: This exercise is great for increasing joint stability around the knee, due to the constant change of tempo and pace.

Station 6: Position 7 flags 18 inches apart. Soccer Player A zig zags between each one and receives a pass from the left side from Player B. Player A then sprints to another flag positioned 15 yards away in front of him with the ball. He then passes back to B and then sprints to B’s position, while B sprints to A’s original starting position to start exercise.

B performs the exercise and passes to A after sprint to flag 15 yards away. A controls ball and passes the ball straight ahead between the two lots of flags for B to run on to the other side. Exercise is repeated alternating from right to left after each player has performed one rep.

2 minutes active rest


60 secs on each station ( 2 x 30 secs ) working in pairs

Station 1: Lateral Shuttles (2 cones) - Position 2 cones 5 metres apart and adopt a squat position, side on to cones 1 and 2

Laterally shuttle between each cone continuously, keeping in the low squat position, lightly touching eachcone.

Hindu Pressups - Start in a jacknife position and lower your chest to the floor in a forward circular arc, until your chest is up and your arms are straight. You hips should almost be touching the ground. Lift hips back into jacknife position and repeat.

Keep elbows tucked in.

30 - 60 secs active rest ( eg on spot jogging or skipping

Station 2: ‘T’ Shuttles (4 cones) - Position 4 cones in a T shape approx 5m apart. Sprint to the middle cone and push off either right or left. Touch other cone and then sprint to the far cone before sprinting back to the middle and then to start.

( alternate both sides )

Forward Partner Wrestle - Facing each other, try to resist your opponent between 2 cones 5m apart

Station 3: Tuck Jumps / Deceleration - Place 2 cones 10m apart.

Perform 3 tuck jumps before sprinting to cone 2 decelerating and stopping rapidly trying not to go past the cone.

Repeat back to cone 1 and continue for full 30 sec.

Kettlebell Swings - Perform with strict technique for 30 secs

Station 4: Shuttles between Cones - Sprint between 2 cones 5m apart lightly touching each cone.

Kettlebell Rope pulls - In a seated position pull in kettle bells attached to a rope before running the length of the rope and repeating

Station 5: Alt Forward / Backward Shuttles - Position 3 cones 3m apart, sprint to cone 2 then back peddle to cone 1, sprint to cone 3 then back peddle to cone 1.

Repeat for the full 30 secs.

Lateral Shoulder Charge -Standing side on with partner, shoulders touching between a crash pad. Attempt to push each other over 2 markers placed either side of the players.

Station 6: Lateral Strides / Back Peddles / Step Overs - Position 5 cones 5m apart. 3 at 90° and 2 at 60° from the middle cone of the 3.

Perform 2 Burpees before sprinting to cone 2.

Laterally stride left to cone 3 at 60° repeating back to cone 2, back peddle to cone 4 at 90° and repeat back to cone 2.

Perform 4 stepovers over low obstacle at 60° to cone 5 and repeat back to cone 2.

Sprint back to cone 1 and repeat exercise alternating sides


If your looking to increase your overall strength, speed and endurance for a supreme edge in soccer, in addition to building incredibly strong ligaments and tendons. Then kettlebell training needs to become a regular part of a soccer players conditioning programme.

Since I became one of the first registered instructors in the UK back in 2003, the popularity of the kettle bell as a conditioning tool for different sports has grown and grown. And athletes in discipline such as MMA, Rugby, Boxing, Track and Field and basketball have recognised its phenomenal power and versatility in helping develop unrivalled conditioning for performance.

Though its introduction into the soccer has not materialised sufficiently at the moment, especially in the UK.

What is a Kettlebell ?

To some of you who may not be familiar with Kettlebells, the kettlebell itself dates back to ancient Greece, though it is widely accepted that Russia adopted the kettle bell as a implement for modern training back in 1704.

It is manufactured from solid cast iron and resembles a flat bottomed cannonball with a handle, or a kettle without the spout (hence the discription of kettle - bell ! ).

These spherical weights or poods as they are known in Russia, normally consist of 8 standard weights ranging from 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 40kg, though lighter and heavier versions such as 4k and 50k can be found.

What are the benefits of kettle bell training ?

First of all, one of the major differences that separates the kettle bell from all other conventional fitness equipment is its weight distribution, in that it has a displaced centre of gravity.

What that equates to in training terms is that more momentum is produced.

For instance, take the basic kettlebell swing. If you perform the same exercise with a dumbell you of course experience strong centrifugal forces at work. Yet because you can grip the handle dead centre, it creates a more compact and stable action therefore you have a lot more control.

With the kettle bell however, the moment you pick up the weight the mass of its centre of gravity acts like a pendulum and becomes alive in your hand ! This momentum added to the centrifugal force, produces an unstable swing within a swing and culminates in a ballistic movement that quite literally tugs and pulls at the entire body.

The drastic external shift in velocity activates many stabilising muscle groups that would otherwise lay dormant when using dumbbells and barbells etc. But by recruiting and utilizing these additional supporting muscles you develop total functional fitness that helps you to become stronger and faster soccer player.

Along with building the connective tissues of the knees and back to incredibly high levels. Extremely important for todays soccer player.

In a nutshell working with kettlebells will deliver the following important areas for todays soccer :

  • Develop a powerful hip extension -

  • Utilise the hard to train stabilizing muscles

  • Control in deceleration

  • Balancing both tension and relaxation

  • Strengthen ligaments and tendons

  • Ballistic strength

Kettle bell Exercises

Another great benefit of using the kettlebell is that it offers an unlimited variety of different combinations, once the basics have been mastered.

Below are listed 3 of the most important foundation exercises.


The basic swing acts as the essential prerequisite foundation for every other kettlebell exercise that is incorporated into kettle bell training.

On mastering the swing you develop incredible power in the hips. This is vital when executing combinations and exercises with heavier weights, and teaches you how to economise your efforts when in the full throws of an intense workout.

Therefore strength endurance is built on top of power generation and shock absorption, ideal for a speed, strength and power sports such as soccer.

To help initiate good hip utilisation from the start, I have included two simple but important drills that concentrate on correct posture and breathing. They are the Shallow knee bend and Mini Swing.

Shallow Knee Bend - The best way to describe how to adopt the starting position for this drill, is to get into gorilla mode, or mimic how a gorilla stands.

This is feet a little wider than shoulder width, backside pushed back, chest pushed out with back neutral. The line of the kneecap being behind the toes and your arms straight out in front of you.

From here take a deep breath in and pretend someone is about to kick your backside.

Exhale and simultaneously tense your glute muscles locking out the legs so they are straight, your hips should snap forward so the whole body becomes straight.

There should also be a slight backward lean without arching the back, with the weight driving through your heels.

Slowly return to the starting position inhaling as you do so.

Do 1 x 10 reps

Correct technique in lifting

Before performing the Mini Swing, its worth mentioning correct technique in lifting the kettle bell into the start position.

First of all place the kettle bell between your feet, and hold the handle while keeping your head up, chest out and back straight. Your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width in the squat position.

With your arms straight and loose, tense the abdominal muscles as if about to be hit and take a deep breath in.

Exhale, and simultaneously lift the kettle bell while locking out your legs and tensing your glute muscles, so you finish in a straight standing position.

NOTEThis technique must be adhered to at all times even if the weight is light, as taking kettle bells or any training equipment for granted can lead to injuries !

Mini Swing - The next stage allows you to experience swinging the kettle bell by just using your hips.

While holding the kettle bell after lifting, bend your legs slightly and push your hips back with the kettle bell as if loading a catapult.

From there, tense the glutes and lock out the knees so that the hips thrust the kettle bell forward, keeping your arms straight and lose all the time.

The kettle bell should only be allowed to swing about waist height, just using the hips. Let the kettle bell swing back pushing the hips backwards, before repeating the action.

Perform this drill for about a minute in a continuous smooth rhythm, concentrating on contracting the glute muscles for a more powerful hip snap.

Full Swing

The full swing is more or less an exaggerated version of the mini swing, but with a bigger range of motion.

To perform the swing, snap the kettle bell forward using the hips, but on returning bend the knees more and allow the kettle bell to swing further behind still keeping your head up, back straight and pushing your backside back.

Contract the glutes hard again while locking out the legs to propel the hips forward, while pulling with the arms but without using the arms to excellerate the kettle bell to shoulder height.

When the kettle bell swings back don’t forget to activate the abdominals to protect the back, and not to resist the weight with the arms. This will allow for the large muscle groups like the glutes and hamstrings to act as shock absorbers, and control the kettle bell as it descends.

Inhale on the way down and exhale when swinging up

Again perform this action in a continuous steady rhythm for 2 x 10 reps

There are also two other variations of the Swing that you can perform to make it a little more challenging and incorporating more coordination. They are the One Armed Swing and the Hand to Hand.

One Armed Swing

Hand to Hand


As well as being an exercise for the transition to other drills, it is also an excellent move to help develop the tension / relaxation phase of a soccer players training which focusses on hip snap.

The clean is performed by placing the kettle bell between your feet a little wider than shoulder width.

Crouch down into a squat position keeping good posture as with the swing and grasp hold of the handle with the holding hand arm straight.

Gently tug at the weight without lifting the kettle bell so to eliminate any jolting and take a deep intake of breath into your stomach tensing the abs.

Still keeping the lifting arm straight, drive through the feet and proceed to tense the glutes while locking and straightening the legs. Pull the kettlebell up with the arm as minimal as possible and make sure it is kept close to the body.

On full extension, simultaneously roll the kettle bell round your forearm and quickly tuck the elbow into your side, so that it rests on the bony part of your hips.

You should now be holding the kettle bell on the outside resting gently against your forearm and shoulder, with your wrist flush with your forearm and at 90°. The palm of the fist should be facing inwards.

To help get a feel for the finishing position of the clean, the Reverse Clean (below) is a great drill to do preferably before the clean itself.

Reverse Clean

Pick up the kettle bell with both hands and position it on either the left or right side with it resting between your front shoulder and the outside of your forearm.

Remembering to keep the forearm 90° and the top of wrist flush with forearm. This is called the Rack Position.

Position the feet a little wider than shoulder width and Inhale deeply.

Simultaneously let the fist drop while raising the elbow that will allow the kettle bell to flip over and descend to the floor while pushing your hips back chest out and head up.

Let the holding arm go loose and concentrate on absorbing the weight of the kettle bell with the big muscle groups the glutes and hamstrings.

Exhale, and also tighten your abs at the same time.

Repeat for 10 reps each arm.


Apart from developing strength and endurance in the upper body to a soccer player, the Military Press adds the element of ballistic shock by teaching you to tighten other parts of the body to control the weight.

For instance, a high percentage of athletes when lifting a weight above their heads will solely rely on the Deltoid muscles on the upward and downward phase. Not only prematurely fatiguing the deltoids but also creating potential shoulder injuries.

A proper military press forces you to activate more or less the whole body, utilizing key muscle groups such as the lattisimus dorsi, triceps, biceps, abs and glutes. So the body becomes one solid foundation and makes lifting and lowering of the kettlebell easier.

With the kettlebells unique shape and by using the principle mentioned above, you will find that when the weight is descending it allows you to absorb the impact more comfortably as there are no sharp edges unlike a dumbell.

By combining these crucial elements, this exercise alone will help toughen the body to a high level and make you a far more intimidating adversary on the soccer field !!

Military Press Technique

Position the Kettlebell in the Rack Position, as described in the Reverse Clean Drill, your feet should be about shoulder width apart.

Inhale deeply and mentally focus on tensing the whole body, especially the lats, biceps, abs and glutes.

Exhale slowly, and simultaneously begin to press the kettle bell out to the side and up, keeping the forearm at 90° all the way. It also helps to lean slightly and visualize pushing the kettle bell away from you.

Once extended, keep the KB close to your head touching the ear and allow the weight to fall back pushing your chest out to help counterbalance. Your arm should be totally locked out with palm facing forward.

Exhale forcefully.

To descend the kettle bell, inhale deeply into your stomach and actively tense your lat and glute muscles for total control of the weight as it lowers back to the rack position.

Breathing out forcefully through your teeth just like a pressure cooker scenario creating a hissing sound which will help sustain the intra abdominal pressure of the core.

Still keeping the forearm at 90° gradually lower the KB towards waist height before exhaling sharply and forcefully. Simultaneously let the KB just drop to the rack position by tucking the elbow into the side of the ribcage while slightly bending the knees and ballistically absorbing the weight with the outside of the shoulder.

Fitness 4x4 Vertical lifts, and Hindu Squats.

Below are listed two excellent physical conditioning exercises that any soccer player should seriously consider adding in conjunction with other disciplines of a structured soccer conditioning programme.

Fitness 4x4 Vertical lifts

Hindu Squats

Both these exercise if performed correctly and regularly 1-2 times a week, will help to build explosive upper and lower body strength, power, speed and endurance.


Not so long ago I had the privilage of attending one of Dragon Radovic’s ’Hour of Power 4x4 ’ Seminars in London.

This is a concept of training that concentrates on performing simultaneous cardio and muscular fitness at high intensity, for a mininum of 15 minutes plus. The goal is to maintain the appropiate Heart Rate (HR) for each individual, working at a decreased tempo but at an increased resistance using dumbbells.

This ultimately leads to Optimal Energy Output (EO) that in turn determines the vitality of an individual.

The definition of vitality being :

‘The ability to produce energy or persistent energy’

Persistent being the operative word.

If a soccer player can sustain this when playing ultimately at the highest level you can achieve, then this is where your physical, emotional and spiritual awareness can take on a new dimension.

Dragon who is 60 years old, devised this concept of training about 20 years ago and has taken his and other participants fitness to unbelievable heights.

For instance he himself is able to lift continuously 2 x 45lb dumbbells above his head for up to 90 minutes or more averaging 160 bpm for the duration. That’s not bad for a 60 year old or for anyone half his age.

But Dragon is not big, and his build is that of the average guy on the street.

Yet he has developed this ability to produce phenomenal cardio and muscular endurance that leaves other professional athletes in a heap !!

Each year he demonstrates to fitness enthusiasts and athletes alike ( usually bodybuilders martial artists, weight and power lifters ) at fitness conventions etc, and they are challenged to out rep him for a prize of £1000.

He has multiple participants one after the other dropping out for as long as it takes, while he perpetually outreps everyone.

Even increasing the tempo with the last person standing.

The link below highlights one of Dragons challenges in the US when he took on multiple opponents at venice beach California, and training with London Wasps Rugby Team. in LA with London wasps

Since I have been using this concept it has helped me attain an above average fitness that has more than assisted me in my transition back into soccer after long lay offs. But more than anything it has helped me forge a strong will in developing a more disciplined and controlled approach to my training.

The regime is based on Newtons Law of Physics and states that the longer the distance a weight is lifted vertically, the more energy is expended and can be calculated using a simple equation :

Weight x Vertical distance travelled x repetitions = Energy Output (EO)

Vertical Lift

Through Dragon Radovic’s research it has been proven that the Vertical Lift has the longest range of motion compared to any other exercise and therefore expends the most amount of energy required.

The Vertical Lift involves using two dumbbells and executing a biceps curl to shoulder height, followed directly by a shoulder press above the head before reversing the action back to the start.

Each arm is worked individually, alternating between right and left arms continuously.

To work out your vertical distance travelled, simply stand sideways against a wall holding a pencil in the hand nearest the wall.

With your hand extended down at your side gently draw a line then extend your arm fully above your head and make another mark at he top of the wall. The distance measured between the two marks equals the total distance travelled for one rep of the Vertical Lift, and so we can then work out total Energy Output.

For example, the total distance travelled for my vertical Lift is 55 inches. If we then combine the weight of one dumbell at 35lbs and 285 repetitions we get :

35lb x 55” x 285 reps = 548,625 units of energy
( produced within a period of 15 minutes )

Compare this against the Bench Press also using dumbbells or even a barbell and you can see the difference.

The average distance travelled for the bench press is approximately 29 inches from just above the chest to an extended position.

If we then use exactly the same weight of 35lbs with the bench press also using dumbbells , you will discover that far less energy is expended as illustrated below :

35lbs x 29” x 285 = 289,275 units of energy
( produced within a period of 15 minutes )

It must also be noted that it would be very unlikely for you to sustain 15 mins plus with 35lbs or more, regardless of how fit and strong you are. As you would be subject to constant rest periods and a decreasing rep range .

This is because most of the total weight would be taken up by the deltoids which are small strips of muscle that fatigue more quickly You would also not have the luxury of using other biomechanical resources such as the hips to assist you, or a brief rest while performing the biceps curl.

Therefore for you to produce the same amount of energy as the vertical lift does within the 15 minute time frame would possibly take you 5 times as long and be counter productive.

Although the vertical lift is relatively basic in nature and primarily conditions the upper body, you should not be mislead into thinking that this exercise has no relevance in the game of soccer.

On the contrary, by performing this activity on a regular basis you will steadily master how to :

  • control your breathing

  • absorb ballistic shock

  • alter tempo

  • eccentrically decellerate weight

  • understand muscle irradiation (whole body tension and relaxation )

While at the same time dramatically increasing your cardio and energy output to an exceptional level.

These are all vital skills that can have a crossover effect into soccer and help you develop a far better understanding of how to stay in control while performing soccer plays and soccer moves etc at high intensities.

As well as forging a strong mindset.

In addition to being a tremendous exercise that can be incorporated into your weekly training programme, it is also an ideal vehicle for soccer players to use off season or while injured to help maintain fitness levels.

Vertical Lift Technique

These are the techniques I use which work for me, though I’m sure Dragon has many other techniques that he uses

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, with your knees slightly bent, arms straight at your sides holding 2 dumbells of appropiate weight.

  2. Inhale through your nose, then exhale while briefly locking out the right leg and tensing the glute muscle, which will automatically activate the hip and simultaneously help execute a bicep curl to shoulder height.

  3. Very briefly inhale then exhale while performing a vertical press, concentrating on contracting the latissimus dorsi muscles and abdominals slightly bending the knees and powering through the legs to assist in propelling the dumbell up into the press.

  4. No sooner have you pressed, then activate your latissimus Dorsi and simultaneously descend to your shoulsder while letting out a deep exhalation (almost like a sigh) to disperse any tension. Exhale again before lowering the dumbell to the start position.

  5. Repeat for other arm.

The whole concept relies on knowing exactly how to breath, tense and relax, and is something that can only be achieved through practice.

Below is a link to other techniques that can make a difference Dragons son Reiko describing the technique for the Vertical Lift

NOTE :To gauge your fitness progression it is also recommended that you use a Polar Heart Rate Monitor after working out your Maximum Heart Rate and compare your working HR for each session.

Hindu Squats

As leg exercises go, hindu squats are possibly the most beneficial and demanding you can perform and require no weights. Yet they are also the least known about, usually the preserve of combat athletes, american footballers, and die hard fitness advocates.

With regards to fitness, this activity has the ability not only to strengthen the knee joints and ligaments of a soccer player to unbelievable resilience. But also rehabilitate knees and ankles, and build incredible lung power.

What seems quite a relatively simple exercise, is in fact extremely taxing when performed properly, and many people who use conventional weights have been totally stunned when trying to execute even a modest number of reps.

As knee problems account for a high percentage of injuries, this exercise is a godsend for a seasoned soccer player.

Brief History

Hindu Squats originated in India many centuries ago as one of the training tools of choice for Indian Wrestlers, to develop incredible strength, power, speed, and endurance for the lower body. Legend has it that a great champion by the name of ‘The Great Gama’ of India performed 4000 of these squats everyday and never lost in 5000 matches, such was his all round ability mainly from doing this exercise.

Obviously you wouldn’t expect to achieve, or be required to perform that amount of reps to get the required results for performance. Though there are many advocates of this unique lower body conditioner that do perform anywhere from 500 + on a regular basis a few times a week.

Over recent years Matt Furey a champion wrestler and kung fu practitioner has revolutionised

What makes the Hindu Squat more effective and different from your standard Squat is the knees in the squat position.

When you perform a conventional squat you are always encouraged to squat so that your knees are level or behind your toes. The argument being that with your feet flat on the floor you do not hyperextend the knee joint, and put it under undue stress leading to knees problems.

Though this has been found not to be the case with Hindu Squats.

With Hindu Squats it is totally the opposite. You come up on to the balls of your feet when squatting, and allow the knees to fully protrude over the toes. This allows for a greater range of motion for the knee joint muscles to eccentrically and concentrically contract and therefore increase from a functional point of veiw far better.

Hindu Squat Technique

Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, place your hands making a fist at the sides of your upper chest palms facing down.

Take a deep breath in and then proceed to breath out as you lower into the squat position. Remembering to keep your head up and abdominals tight all the way through the exercise.

Let your arms that were situated at your sides extend loosely in a circular fashion, so that your fingertips almost touch the floor, and come up on to the balls of your feet. Your knees should now be protruding over your feet.

As you ascend upwards, inhale while throwing the arms forwards in a circular fashion, before pulling them in sharply into the start position. Just as the hands reach shoulder level.

Repeat for as many reps as is required in a smooth rhythm, not to fast and not to slow.


Breathing is very important in this exercise, as is keeping a disciplined shape throughout ie: head kept up and looking forward, back in a neutral position, and your core kept tense all the time.

Make sure the knees track your toes, or in other word, don’t allow the knees to fall inwards or outwards.

A WORD OF WARNING - In the beginning do not attempt to perform a high number of reps even if you can, as you can quite easily underestimate the power of this exercise. And literally be crippled for days due to extreme muscular soreness or DOMS.(Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness)

In the first 2-3 sessions don’t do any more than 25 - 50 reps and gradually increase as you go on.

Eventually this exercise can be used in a super set with the Vertical lift, whereby you can perform 15 minutes with the Vertical Lift followed directly after with hindu squats

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