Intense training on and off the pitch is vital for footballers at any level. The physically demanding sport requires high levels of speed, agility, balance, and strength, but an area that is often overlooked is muscular endurance.
In this blog, I’ll apply my extensive background and knowledge in football and fitness to tell you how and why muscular endurance is important in football and how footballers train to improve this area of their game.
What is muscular endurance?
Muscular endurance refers to a muscle’s (or group of muscles’) ability to maintain repeated contractions against resistance for an extended period. It is different to muscular strength or power, as those refer to the ability to exert a force in a short amount of time.
In relation to football, the aforementioned “resistance” is the player’s own body weight. The force of pushing off the ground to jump and run takes a toll when you’re doing it consistently throughout a game at any level, especially when you’re competing against other people who are trying to do the same.
Endurance exercise plays a huge role in a footballer’s ability to compete for over 90 minutes of intense football.
You might find that after a few minutes of taking part in any type of physical activity, you experience a burning sensation in your muscles. That feeling is the build-up of lactic acid. A good level of muscle endurance will delay the build-up of lactic acid and help your muscles through the pain when it does happen. Meaning you can work at a higher intensity for a longer period of time.
That’s why it’s so important for footballers to have a good level of muscular endurance to go hand-in-hand with exceptional cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, balance, and agility.
How Footballers Build Muscular Endurance
Footballers build muscular endurance through a variety of training methods. Interval training and circuit training are predominantly used by strength and conditioning coaches to increase muscle endurance.
Interval training is a method of training that breaks down exercises into, you guessed it, intervals. For example, squatting for 15 reps, having a complete rest for roughly 60 seconds, then going back into another set of 15 squats.
Circuit training is a training method designed with different exercises to be completed consecutively with very little opportunity for rest between each exercise. This method forces your muscles to exert energy in a number of different ways without much rest, just like you would do on the football pitch.
Looking in more detail, the content of these types of training can vary. For instance, interval training can be done with bodyweight exercises or with resistance like bands or dumbbells, and circuit training can include a wide variety of exercises. This means that footballers have a lot of options when it comes to building their muscular strength and endurance.
By building muscle endurance, footballers can perform at a high level for a more extended period, reducing the risk of injury and improving overall performance on the field.
Footballers Getting Cramps During Games
I’m sure you’ve seen it when you’ve watched any game of football, but footballers tend to exaggerate getting a cramp in order to waste time – you’ll conveniently only see this if their team is winning, though.
It’s one of those “techniques” that you don’t have a problem with if your team is winning, but you hate it if your team is losing.
Exaggerating a cramp towards the end of a game can be a genius “crime” that isn’t actually against the rules. No one will remember who did it, but it can wind up the opposing team’s fans and players so much that it can lead to mistakes and bad decisions on their part, giving the player’s team an even greater advantage.
While it is easy to criticise these players, it is important to remember that they are often under immense pressure to perform and are doing whatever it takes to win. Sometimes, leg cramps can be a real issue in relation to muscular endurance for footballers.
It’s important to remember that insufficient development of muscular strength, dehydration, poor nutrition, and fatigue can all contribute to cramping and injuries on the football pitch. These factors can also lead to exhaustion and decreased performance, which can ultimately damage the team’s chances of winning.
Proper rest and recovery are also crucial components of building muscular endurance and, in turn, preventing injuries and ensuring peak performance.
Anaerobic endurance is the ability to perform at a high intensity for a short period of time without needing oxygen to fuel the activity, instead, glucose stored in the body’s muscles is converted into the energy needed.
The Importance Of Muscular Strength In Injury Prevention
Muscular strength is a critical aspect of physical fitness, and its benefits extend beyond just improving athletic performance. It also plays a vital role in injury prevention for footballers by protecting their bodies against potential overuse injuries and low-impact collisions.
This is because as their muscles become stronger, so do the tendons and ligaments. Tendons are the connective tissues that link muscles to bone, while ligaments connect muscle to muscle.
Strength training is important for football players because it enables them to get stronger, faster, and become more agile. It also helps them to develop better balance and coordination, and can also reduce the number of injuries – as stronger muscles are able to absorb tackle impacts better.
So, as a result of developing muscular endurance, footballers are less likely to suffer from injuries.
My Closing Thoughts
In summary, muscular endurance is vital for footballers at any level – the same 90 minutes of football is played whether you’re playing for Real Madrid or Taunton Town.
Good endurance training helps delay the build-up of lactic acid, reduces the risk of injury, and improves overall performance for the entire duration of the game.
Footballers can build muscular endurance through several different training methods, such as interval training and circuit training, which force their muscles to exert energy without much rest.