Not only do millions of people enjoy watching soccer, they love to play it, too. If you want to follow in the super-fit footsteps of players like Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, try out this soccer-inspired workout that incorporates agility, plyometrics, strength and speed training.
Using an agility ladder, select a method of moving through the ladder. For example, you might start with a high-knee march forward through each box, and then progress to a lateral scissor if you’re more advanced. To target your upper body, move through the ladder with your hands while maintaining a push-up position. Once you have this move mastered, speed it up and recite the words to your favorite song, the alphabet or the pledge of allegiance as you move through the ladder. It might seem simple, but this move will get your heart rate up and your brain working.
Set seven cones up in the pattern shown. Using the letters M, N, I, T, Y, select an order in which you will create those letters with your pattern of moving through the cones. Touch each cone that creates the letter as you move through each pattern at a pace that is appropriate to you. Depending on your fitness level, you may choose to walk, skip, jog, sprint or shuffle. After you have completed each letter with your movement pattern, change the order of the letters and try it again. For an increased cardiovascular challenge, try facing the same direction as you create each letter and move the cones farther apart. If you’re working with a partner and like a little competition, time yourselves going through the pattern, or trade off turns for each letter.
Jumping requires explosive power, which is produced by Type II motor units and muscle fibers. Over the course of the aging process, if Type II muscle fibers are not used regularly they can atrophy and lose the ability to produce explosive power when required. The benefits of training the Type II muscle fibers include improved power and enhanced muscle tone.
Start by learning how to land: Roll up on your toes, then roll your feet down to the heels. When your heels hit the ground push your weight back into your hips—this will train you how to land properly. Start with two sets of four or five squat jumps in place and build up to box jumps (jumping up to a specially built platform or box), performing sets of six to eight jumps; rest 45 to 60 seconds between each set.
Lunge Switch Jumps
Lower down into a stable lunge with both knees bent to 90 degrees. Squeeze your glutes and explode off of the ground, landing in the opposite lunge position. Use your arms for added height and intensity. (Regression: alternating leg step-back lunges)
TRX Abdominal Pike
Place the tops of your feet securely into the foot cradles positioned directly under the anchor point. Lie flat on your stomach with your hands placed beneath your shoulders and fingers facing forward. Engage your abdominals and press your body off the floor until your elbows are straight in a plank position. Lift your hips toward the ceiling and pull your legs toward your chest. Keep the legs straight and strong and toes pointed. Your feet should be glued together throughout the exercise. Continue the movement until your hips move directly over your shoulders in somewhat of a handstand position.
Kettlebell Hard Swings
Select a challenging yet safe weight and initiate your swing with the hips. Brace the core and squeeze the glutes on the top of the swing and maintain a good hip hinge on the bottom. (Regression: dumbbell straight-leg deadlift)
Speed Band Skater Holds
Using a speed band secured to the waist and a stable surface, walk out to where there is just enough tension on the band to keep it straight. From a single-leg crouched position, push off laterally to land farther away from the anchor point and hold on the outside leg. Push back to the starting position and hold. Maintain the balance at each position before pushing to the other. For more of a caloric burn, push off more quickly, but stay balanced.
Mixed Treadmill Intervals
Begin with a five-minute warm-up and then set the treadmill to 2% (a good “flat” that mimics outdoor running). Do a 60-second walk/jog (RPE 5-6) followed by a 60-second jog/run at (RPE 7-8). Slow the treadmill down to 2.0 to 3.0 mph and do a 30-second side shuffle to your right, and 30-second side shuffle to your left (RPE 5-6). Lower the intensity for one minute (RPE 2-3) and repeat three times. If you want, you can increase the incline by 2% each round to ramp up the intensity.