Accessible, frantic and great to play with friends (and foes). There's no real mystery as to why 5-a-side football is the most popular sporting activity in the UK. But how much thought are you actually giving to your training?
With Euro 2016 a matter of days away, we've brought Esquire fitness expert Harry Jameson off the bench to show you the most effective exercises and tips to get you in shape for 5-a-side, from plyometrics to proper nutrition, to get you looking less fat Ronaldo and more Cristiano for when those Monday evenings under the floodlights roll around.
1 | The Warm-Up
For a game of so many directional changes and fast, intense movements, Harry reiterates the importance of a thorough warm-up (at least 15 minutes. Sorry). Try to incorporate dynamic movements like lunges and quick sprints over static stretching on cold muscles. You want to be replicating the movements you'll be performing in game, unless you want to be pulling a hammy like Michael Owen in the first five minutes.
2 | The Speed Exercise
Rather than long, meandering runs, football - especially 5-a-side - is all about 1-10 metre sprints over and over and over again. Harry's advice for replicating this in the gym is to set your treadmill to a 3% incline on maximum speed (or as fast as you can go) and then sprinting for 10 seconds, before resting for 20 seconds. Repeat this 10 times. And try not to throw up.
3 | The Upper Body And Core Exercise
It's often said that footballer's have the most enviable physiques out of all sportsmen (maybe not Gazza, but that's another story), the reason for this is that they possess the perfect blend of core and upper body strength, which gives them that lean, balanced look.
Instead of crunching out deadlifts and bench pressing in the gym, Harry suggests a simple press-up rotation exercise that works both your chest and your abs simultaneously, like the one in the video below.
Perform five sets of 12 rotational press-ups, swapping sides after each rep.
4 | The Leg Exercises
Instead of squatting, which only focuses on the front of your legs, Harry suggests the multi-directional lunge, an exercise that helps strengthen your glutes and quads, as well as the joints in your knees and ankles.
To perform the lunge, you need to imagine that you're stood inside a clock face. Start by lunging with your right leg towards the 12, then back again. Then lunge to the 1 and back again, going all the way down to the 6. Then swap to your left leg and go from the 6 all the way back up to the 12. Do this for threes sets, with 30 seconds rest in between each set.
If you want to work on your explosive leg power - and who doesn't want to work on that? - then plyometric box jumps are the answer. By jumping up onto something you're lessening the impact on your joints, and improving your core and leg strength at the same time.
Start with 4-5 sets of 10-12 box jumps. These can either be performed at the gym on specific boxes, or, if you're feeling like Rocky, on a ledge outside.
5 | The All Body Exercise
High Intensity Interval Training is oh so trendy right now, as well as having the added benefit of being ideal training for football.
Here Harry has devised a quick and effective routine that will target all of your key footballing areas. Each exercise should be performed for 30 seconds, with no rest in between. Once you've completed a full set take a minute's breather. Repeat for five full sets.
- Mountain Climbers
- Jump Squats (as described above)
- Directional Lunges (as above)
6 | The Pre-Game Nutrition
Before taking to the turf you're going need the proper fuel, ideally 1-2 hours prior to kick-off. You don't want to be digesting anything while you're lunging in at that striker or banging one in from the halfway line (or at least trying). Harry recommends complex carbs and protein like brown rice, jacket potatoes and tuna. Or, if you're in more of a rush, unsalted nuts like almonds and Brazil nuts. Both are quick and easy sources of protein, vitamins and energy.