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How to Train Hard, Without Getting Tired...

How to Train Hard, Without Getting Tired...

I've been getting asked this question a lot lately, you want to do extra training by yourself to improve, but fitting that in with team training as well without over-training seems impossible!

You want to be the best, and you know that to become the best you need to do your own work away from your team mates, but you're finding that doing all this extra training is actually making you tired and underperform when it comes to training with your team.

Remember that the whole point in extra training is that it boosts your performance when it matters (when your with the team and people are watching), whether that be in terms of speed, stamina, skill, technical ability or resilience to injury. So, if your personal training schedule is hindering this goal, you need to change things up, and luckily that doesn't necessarily mean abandoning your personal training sessions all together, it's all about training smart.

Strength training around team training really is a tricky one, you are well aware of the benefits it will bring but at the same time we can't deny the negatives, the fact that you are likely to feel sore and tired for a period after the session, which is going to be detrimental to your performance for the rest of the week. Strength training before a team session is a big no-no for me, not only is it going to make you tired, it's going to eat up a lot of your carbohydrate stores which you had in the tank ready to burn at team training. A lot of players will think they are doing the right thing and being good by doing extra work before team training, but this kind of work is going to be counter-productive in this situation.

For me there are two times of the day that you can do you own training on the same day as team training. The first one is very early in the morning (only if your team session is in the evening, get your session done early in the morning and you should be able to allow yourself at least 10 hours to refuel in time for team training). The second time is straight after your team training (you’re already warm and you will enable yourself to have a good amount of recovery time before the next team session). You'll need to have an isotonic drink with you to keep your energy levels up after team training, once you're done your recovery nutrition is also vitally important.

Having said that, ideally you want to schedule your strength training sessions for periods as far away from team training and matches as possible to allow for maximum recovery time. This can be tricky and there are a couple of options you can utilise here…option one is to reduce the volume of the training, which means keeping the same intensity but lower the number of sets. Option 2 is experimenting with something called BFR training (blood flow restriction), with research showing that it enables you to still make the gains in strength and muscle mass you would see with heavy training whilst only lifting 20-30% of your 1RM and not triggering delayed onset of muscle soreness (as no muscle fibre damage is occurring).

So, if you should avoid strength training on team training days or keep it as far away from the session as possible, then what can you do on these days which won’t be detrimental? Mobility work (yoga based) done more than 3 hours before your training will benefit your performance, as will myofascial release which can be done at any time and always have positive effects. The time to do speed work is ideally just before your team training starts or again on a day without team training, warm up thoroughly first and do a few sets of sprints with maximal recovery between each rep – just 10 minutes is fine and you’ll still have plenty of energy left for training.

Stamina training should be done straight after your team session, again you’re already warm and should already be tired so you’re just doing a short 10-minute stamina session looking for that edge. Fitting these sessions around your team training means that you can have maximal recovery time before the next team session, rather than doing 2 full sessions of training every single day, you’re going to train smart to allow your body the time to recover and adapt.

Of course, some of you will find this easier to implement than others, if your club has a gym you can use straight after training to do some strength work then perfect, if you are able to get hold of some bands for BFR training then again, you’re giving yourself an edge.

Think of your team session as another opportunity to train hard and get an edge (it’s a 60-90 minute high intensity session of sprints and stamina with the ball included), make those extra runs when you don’t necessarily have to to take your fitness to the next level, don’t just ‘get through it’.

In a nutshell, here’s the extra training I recommend doing on days where you DON’T have team training, if you have no other option then lower the volume as suggested above and stick to the two main time slots:

  • Strength training
  • High intensity stamina sessions
  • Speed sessions with lots of reps
  • High intensity ball work 

Here’s what you can do on the same day as team training:

  • Myofascial release – Anytime
  • Yoga – At least 3 hours before
  • Low intensity injury prevention exercises - Anytime
  • Targeted core work - Straight after training
  • Low intensity swim – Morning or after
  • Short speed workout – Get to team training early, warm up and do this before your team meet, drink an isotonic drink along the way. If no option you can do this after training too but it won’t be quite as affective
  • Short stamina workout – Straight after team training
  • Low intensity ball work i.e. Shooting practice etc - Anytime 

It goes without saying that to make any gains you need to be eating the right foods at the right time and getting enough sleep. Our nutrition for football guide teaches you how to get your nutrition right in periods of heavy training and a few tricks you can utilise to boost your performance. You should also note that the better condition you are in (hugely influenced by the quality of your off season training) the more efficiently your body will be able to recover and cope with extra training once team training has started up again. 

Extra training is all about intensity, 5 minutes of training with intent is better than 45 minutes of half-hearted training. Aim to keep the quality of your extra work high, the duration as short as possible and recovery time maximal when trying to fit in your extra work around team training and matches.


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