5 Key Benefits of Sprinting for Soccer Players
If you could only do one exercise for the rest of your life, then it should probably be sprinting. No other exercise brings similar results for the same effort and time. The benefits of sprinting are all round, from losing weight to gaining muscle.
As a soccer player, these benefits can have a direct impact on your performance, so let us talk you through the 5 key benefits of sprint training for soccer players.
#1 – BUILD MUSCLE
Functional muscle. Sprint training increases the size and strength of your fast-twitch muscle fibres. These powerful, microscopic fibres activate when our body nears maximum exertion. The stronger these fibres, the higher our point of maximal power output. The only way to build muscle is by recruiting these fast-twitch muscle fibres, which then signals our body to raise it’s testosterone levels, increase production of growth hormone and utilise protein through protein synthesis – a process which studies have shown to increase by 230% following an intense bout of sprinting!
On the soccer field, this strength and power is an obvious advantage over your opposition. Additional power will help you win aerial duels, hold off opposing players to protect the ball and increase both your acceleration and maximum speed.
#2 – BURN FAT
Build muscle and burn fat? That’s right, sprinting has it all. Studies have shown that sprinting, in comparison to steady-pace running, produces significantly greater levels of fat loss. The best fit, the fat burning is actually an after-product of sprinting, meaning that you conti nue burning fat long after exercise as your body tries to return to a normal state. After intense sprinting, your metabolism increases to recover from diminished oxygen levels and ATP stores. This pis known as excessive post-exercise consumption (EPOC), where your body burns a higher number of calories after intense exercise. While your body repairs muscle tissues and replenishes cell nutrients, it uses fat as the main fuel for energy.
On the soccer field, a leaner body has a variety of benefits. Your body does not waste essential energy carrying around additional weight and our core muscles are able to work in better harmony to provide functional muscle strength.
#3 – IMPROVE HEART HEALTH
Sprinting is the best anaerobic exercise for your heart. Studies have shown that just a few simple sprints can be as effective as 30 minutes of continuous jogging. After sprinting, your heart rate remains elevated, which promotes positive adaptions in the cardiovascular systems. These adaptations come from our brain, signalling that the heart needs to become stronger, so that the next time we sprint it can efficiently push more oxygenated blood around our system.
The benefits of this on the soccer field are our improved ability to recover from intensive sprints. Soccer is full of stop-start movements, short sprints at a high intensity, following by a small rest period of walking or jogging. Sprinting helps to train our heart to push more oxygenated blood around the system, meaning quicker recovery time as our body has essential oxygen and nutrients delivered to the cells quicker.
#4 – SPEND MORE TIME PRACTISING TECHNIQUE
Sprint training is incredibly efficient. As mentioned above, a few simple sprints can reap the same rewards as 30 minutes of continuous jogging. By focusing on high intensity sprint training, you can spend less time on improving your fitness and more time on enhancing your technique. If you currently run 3 times a week, swap two of those session to focus on sprint training. Split the time of your usually running session into two and only spend the first half sprinting. Use the final half to practice ball skills, this can be dribbling at a high intensity if you have enough energy, or practising shots and focusing on your touch while your body is tired.
#5 – IT IS A COMPLETE BODY WORKOUT
The butt, the hips, the hamstrings, the calves, the abs, the chest, the arms, the shoulders. Lower-back, mid-back, upper-back, there isn’t a muscle group that goes unaffected when sprinting at an all-out intensity. In terms of compound movements (exercises which involve more than one muscle group), sprinting is the Fairmont hotel of all exercises. It’s been an Olympic sport since 1896 and is incorporated into the training regimes of sports athletes around the globe for one simple reason – It works all of the large muscles in the body together. This improves our functional strength, athletic development and flexibility.
To take your training to the next level, check here for all of our sprint training videos and exercise drills.