Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cross Training for Soccer

In soccer, cross training is defined as every other sports training except the one in which a soccer player is specialize in. The function of cross training is to keep the athlete conditioned during the off season and during the season, to provide variation in the training regime.

Why Cross training
Injuries are inevitable in the life of the endurance athlete. When they happen they are painful, debilitating, and frustrating. The most frustrating part of being injured is knowing that your hard-earned fitness is deteriorating while you take time off from training to heal. In fact, this frustration can be so great that soccer players are often unwilling to take time off or tempted into resuming training too soon. Consequently, injuries become worse or last longer than they should.

One way to prevent this sort of self-sabotage is to choose a favorite go-to cross-training activity that you can switch to whenever an injury makes normal

training impossible or unwise. Having such a fallback option greatly reduces the temptation to train normally when you should not because it enables you
to preserve fitness even when you are hurt. The best alternatives to your primary sport discipline are those that are most similar to it.

Whichever cross-training activity you choose to pursue while recovering from an injury in your primary sport discipline, try to replicate your main sport workouts as closely as possible in terms of frequency, intensity, and duration. This will serve to minimize fitness losses during the period of convalescence.

For Cardiovascular

For general fitness and cardiovascular health, the recommendations have been
that 30–40 min, 3–5 times per week at 60% V.O2 max (or 70% HR max) of exercise is prescribed. These guidelines have been revised for the general population to incorporate segmented activities at low intensity during the day which altogether amount to a cumulative health benefit. The recreational player would need a sustained work-out as preparation, and extend training sessions with games.

Some of the common and well fitted cross training exercises which any athlete can chose in his/her rehabilitation period or in off season are

1. Cycling and Swimming
Cycling and swimming are useful activities for soccer players at certain stages
of rehabilitation. Their main benefits are in preventing muscle atrophy through
disuse and in activating the oxygen transport system. Their benefits for elite
players at peak fitness are limited since both histochemical changes in muscles and effects on V.O2 max tend to be specific to the activity in already well-trained individuals.

Soccer players need to develop aerobic capacity and muscle strength at the
same time. Gains in strength and power output can be acquired at the same time as endurance is improved, provided neither is neglected. Increases in muscle strength tend to be greater when strength training is conducted on its own than when it is combined with endurance training. In contrast endurance training does not seem to be affected by conducting a resistance training programme in combination with it.

2. Steep Uphill Treadmill Walking

Research has shown that the human brain uses exactly the same motor pattern to run or walk briskly on steep uphill gradients. In other words, when you crank the treadmill incline up to 12-15 percent, running becomes walking and walking becomes running. Therefore, walking on a steep incline is a highly specific way to maintain running fitness when you're injured. But impact forces are reduced drastically compared to running, so steep uphill walking is possible with most common running injuries. Many runners don't think of walking as a good alternative to running when injured because they assume they cannot match their normal intensity.

3. Pool Running

Pool running, or aqua-jogging, comes in a close second to cycling. With no impact forces, your chance of injury is very low. Because you’re in the water and the nature of pool running, you will have to work extra hard to ensure your heart rate is at a high enough level. That’s why it’s OK to pool run at a “tempo” effort for the majority of your exercise session. You can also do short intervals at a high effort almost every day. The water will keep your heart rate lower and your legs aren't being damaged by impact forces, so you can get an amazing workout day after day! Unless you’re a seasoned veteran with pool running, use an Aqua-jogger (pool running flotation belt) to help keep your form in check. Keep your back tall, and do a running/cycling motion with your legs. The trick to successful pool running is to keep a high cadence (rotations per minute of your legs). Try not to overextend your legs or you may irritate your lower hamstrings.

4. Yoga

Yoga provides the a perfect cross training routine for athletes who play sports that use repetitive movement patterns over and over. Yoga allows you to unwind, and unfold tight, overused muscles while it provides a gentle all-body workout. Yoga improves flexibility, balance, breathing and overall strength.

5. Kayaking

Give your legs a break while you build upper body and core strength with kayaking. The rhythmic motion of paddling a kayak through lakes and open water is a great cardiovascular workout that can be as vigorous or soothing as you want to make it. 

6. Crossfit

The Crossfit Workout is an extremely popular basic training type of workout routine that is popping up all over the world. CrossFit builds strength, power and endurance in a fun, fast workout alternative. Use is in the off-season, or as part of your standard routine and you will be a much stronger athlete.

7. Hiking

Hiking is a great cross training activity that add a little variety to your exercise routine. Getting outdoors for a long day of endurance exercise helps build endurance, agility and balance as you navigate rocks, roots and uneven surfaces. Be prepared for the extreme weather conditions, and be sure to take a few hiking safety precautions to ensure a great day in the wilderness.

8. Core Strength Training

The core muscles (muscles supporting the trunk and torso) are the most critical muscles for all athletic movement. These muscles stabilize the spine from the pelvis to the head and allow athletes to transfer power to the arms and legs. All powerful movements in the extremities originate from the center of the body so building core strength is essential for coordinated and strong athletic movements. All athletes should do basic core strengthen.

5 Tips for Cross Training
Here are some basic rules of thumb for cross-training to make sure its effective and relatively risk-free.

1. Training intensity should be roughly 80% of your max effort. This will make sure you’re not over-training and keeps you safe from injury.

2. Training should be shorter duration than a normal soccer practice or game. So you can cross-train for 30 – 60 minutes depending on the workout and your current training schedule.

3. Training frequency should be roughly 3-5 times per week. So if you’re already running or practicing soccer 3 times per week, only add 2-3 days of cross training.

4. Focus on activities that are non-impact. You will get enough impact training from running at least 3 days a week, so you should focus on non-impact training like cycling or strength circuit training. This will allow you to keep your intensity higher on the days you do run or play soccer.

5. Cross-training should still be functional. All training should still be based around high-intensity intervals. This will train your muscle endurance, but also significantly improve your explosiveness and quickness.

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