The Modern Day Footballer Gym Workout Plan

The game of football is one that is constantly changing. It has evolved from where positions require brute force to a situation where a player must be able to do a bit of everything. Physically is still a priority with many professional clubs selecting players based on more physicality rather than technical ability as they believe the technical ability can be improved much more dramatically than the physical side of the game. With this in mind, we will present the modern footballers gym routine. This routine will be based upon a general player’s needs, regardless of positions. We will first present the workout and then go into more detail below for further clarification.


The Workouts:

The program will be a 6 day split: 3 working days at the gym with cardio/skill days in between. Having 1 day of rest/recovery is vital for a player of any level to ensure your body can recover in a way that enables you to go again next week.

Every gym session will begin with a set warm up (see below) and will require a skipping rope

Warm Up – Gym:                                                    

100 Skips 20 Push Ups/10 Pull Ups
Lower Body Stretching Upper Body Stretching
100 Skips (Faster) 20 Push Ups/10 Pull Ups
Lower Body Stretching Upper Body Stretching
100 Skips (Alternating Legs) 20 Push Ups/10 Pull Ups *If required
Lower Body Stretching Upper Body Stretching *If required

Monday – Gym

Exercise Reps/Sets Recovery
Flat Barbell Bench Press 5 x 5 90 Seconds
Cable Flyes 8-12 x 3 60 Seconds
Cable Row 5 x 5 90 Seconds
Weighted Pull Ups 8-12 x 3 60 Seconds
Dumbbell Should Press 6-8 x 4 60 Seconds
Cable Bicep Curls (Superset) 8-12 x 3 45 Seconds
Cable Tricep Push (Superset) 8-12 x 3 45 Seconds
Leg Press 5 x 5 90 Seconds
Hamstring Curl 8-12 x 3 60 Seconds


Tuesday – Cardio/Training

When it comes to cardio, if there is not a set training program in place (skills, drills etc.), it is best to go with a HIIT workout of some sort. Below are a few options that can be effective for footballing conditioning.


  1. Mona Fartlek

Effort = 100%

Recovery = slow jog / walk

Notes: This session is only 20 minutes in duration but done correctly should be quite tough. Emphasis is to be on the efforts, go as hard as possible and do what you need to ie jog or walk within the allocated rest time to recover. Don’t mess with the order of effort, do the 90 seconds x 2 and then work down the list. Adhere strictly to recovery timeframes.

90sec effort / 90sec recovery x 2

60sec effort / 60sec recovery x 4

30sec effort / 30sec recovery x 4

15sec effort / 15sec recovery x 4

  1. Winton Pyramid

Effort = 80-90%

Recovery = slow jog / walk

Notes: Go through the pyramid twice. This can be a very tough session so try and put emphasis on as much effort as possible when on, and then walk/jog if necessary on the recoveries to regain breath. Pace will be slightly slower than the Mona Fartlek. If necessary have a 2-5 minute break between pyramids to regain strength.

30sec effort / 30sec recovery

60sec effort / 60sec recovery

90sec effort / 90sec recovery

120sec effort / 120sec recovery

90sec effort / 90sec recovery

60sec effort / 60sec recovery

30sec effort / 30sec recovery

  1. Lake 500’s

Effort = 100% – aim for under 1.35 – 2 minutes for each 500m effort

Recovery = slow jog / walk – under 3 minutes for 500m recovery

Go as hard as possible on each 500m effort and then either jog or walk for the next 500m, completing the recovery 500m in under 3 minutes. There are only six (6) hard 500m efforts for this session, so give 100%. 1.35-1.50 for 500m is a good effort, 2 minutes is acceptable.

  1. Hill sprints

Effort = 100%

Recovery = walk / jog

Find a hilly area that has two hills of approximately 200m or more in length. From the bottom hill, sprint up at 100% effort until you have reached the top. Recover (walk/jog) between hills at own pace, still aiming to be under 120 seconds. Once reaching the base of the second hill, work up it at maximal effort. Walk/jog back down to the start. Be fully recovered before the next effort and work as hard as possible. Four to six times through.

Wednesday – Gym


Exercise Reps/Sets Recovery
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 5 x 5 90 Seconds
Bodyweight/Weight Dips 8-12 x 3 60 Seconds
One-arm Lat Pulldown 5 x 5 90 Seconds
Weighted Chin-ups 8-12 x 3 60 Seconds
Upright Row 6-8 x 4 60 Seconds
Rope Hammer Curls (Superset) 8-12 x 3 45 Seconds
Rope Tricep Pull (Superset) 8-12 x 3 45 Seconds
Back Squat 5 x 5 90 Seconds
Stiff Legged Deadlifts 8-12 x 3 60 Seconds

Thursday – Cardio/Training Session


When it comes to cardio, if there is not a set training program in place (skills, drills etc.), it is best to go with a HIIT workout of some sort. Below are a few options that can be effective for footballing conditioning.

Friday – Gym

Exercise Reps/Sets Recovery
Decline Barbell/Dumbbell Bench Press 5 x 5 90 Seconds
Clap Push Ups 8-12 x 3 60 Seconds
Rack Pulls 5 x 5 90 Seconds
T-Bar Rows 8-12 x 3 60 Seconds
Side Lateral Raises 6-8 x 4 60 Seconds
Preacher Curls (Superset) 8-12 x 3 45 Seconds
Tricep Dips (Superset) 8-12 x 3 45 Seconds
Deadlifts 5 x 5 90 Seconds
Dumbbell Lunges 8-12 x 3 60 Seconds


Saturday – Cardio/Training

This cardio session will differ from the previous two sessions, being hopefully a game or much more technical training. Technical training is still very important so being able to bring that into your cardio is essential for player development. In an ideal scenario, you will play a 90 minutes game but if that is not possible, get some balls and do a longer yet sharp and hard working session. This can involve short springs while dribbling, sharp changes of direction, agility poles/ladder work, etc.

Sunday – Rest

As stated earlier, this rest day is essential. Either having an active rest or recovery is something that separates a hobby rather than a passion. If you are able to sit around and relax then that will go a long way but if you are able to activity seek recovery (see below list), you will find that you’re feeling better throughout the week and your body is able to recover and perform more regularly at a higher level.

Recovery Options:

Slow swim/pool walking and stretching

30 minute walk

20 minute + jog/walk

Ice Bath





Why these sessions?


This plan has been created to address all the requirements of a footballer in terms of a physical approach. We used 5 x 5 compound movement exercises to help a player develop sheer strength and power. It is then essential for the player to rest an adequate amount of time before the next set as so they can use their maximum effort and help develop their strength further. We use this on all muscle groups involved. Why? Because a footballer is not only from the waist down but rather your entire body! Too many football development programs are bottom heavy and while this does provide an accelerated growth space in the lower region of your body, it results in your torso lacking strength which will affect all aspects of your game. We make sure we hit all areas of the chest and back as those two muscle groups will provide the largest compound exercises. We also make time for isolation movements to ensure that we are not lagging and have strength in all areas. The 8-12 x 3 sets are designed to be your isolation areas. As these target a more specific muscle group, they are useful but not necessarily as essential as the larger, compound exercises.

Legs are addressed in all our gym days in the same manner. We hit them hard with our 5 x 5 efforts while then also making sure we get all the muscles involved with a complimentary second exercise that address the alternate muscle to our 5 x 5. While making sure we work legs is important, we want to make sure we don’t overtrain with the combination of leg exercises and our cardio session. Getting through what is essentially 24 sets of weighted leg exercises a week as well as HIIT cardio will mean that on your rest day, you are feeling your legs more than your torso. This is what we want and want to make sure we maintain a high level of work without overdoing it. If you find that you are not able to keep this effort up, lower the HIIT exercises as that will assist with recovery and ensure that your strength gains do not disappear.

Our warm ups before the gym are also extremely important and should not be missed. Push Ups and Pull Ups will help keep your body ready for our big lifts as they will warm up essentially all the muscles we will use. The skipping on the other hand is able to do more for us. Skipping is excellent at promoting coordination while also being a great cardio workout. By using our skipping first, we make sure each session we are getting more agile and creating more of a muscle-mind connection just by warming up. This is why we are progressing from just normal skipping to a faster pace and finally to alternative legs. You will find that your body is ready to undertake weighted exercises but when you start to implement game movements into your cardio sessions, that your coordination and control of your lower body (in particular, your feet) is greatly improved.

You may also notice the lack of ab exercises in this program. This is not by accident with abdominal exercise being good but not essential. Core strength will come from doing your large, strong 5 x 5 exercises (Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, etc.). These exercise go further than just toning your midsection and give your real core stability which is much more important for not being knocked off the ball compared to being able to hold a plank.

Finally, this workout plan has also come in mind with injury prevention involved. Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game that while we might not being able to phase out entirely, we can try our utmost to prevent. Strong, compound movements in your legs strengthen them to prevent injuries rather than just promoting hypertrophy. Size is great but being strong will be more essential in injury prevention which is what we are aiming for here.



When we compare a professional player and a social player, we can see the differences in the amount of effort and time applied to the game. As a professional is basically employed to play football, it gives them a lot more time to do both gym and cardio programs. We have tried to find a happy medium in which an everyday footballer can use as a base to improve their abilities on. While we are very proud of this program, it can only take someone so far after which more specific training will come into play as well as a healthy diet. We believe that this program can still be sued for everyone and you will see results after applying it for some time. It will not be an overnight fix but rather an improvement as time goes on. Have faith in what you are doing and know that if you apply yourself to football, on and off the pitch, there will be no doubt you will improve.



Yap, C., Brown, L., & Woodman, G. (2000). Development of Speed, Agility, and Quickness for the Female Soccer Athlete. Strength And Conditioning Journal22(1), 9. doi: 10.1519/1533-4295(2000)022<0009:dosaaq>;2


Croisier, J.-L., Ganteaume, S., Binet, J., Genty, M., & Ferret, J.-M. (2008). Strength Imbalances and Prevention of Hamstring Injury in Professional Soccer Players: A Prospective Study. The American Journal of Sports Medicine36(8), 1469–1475.


Wisløff U, Castagna C, Helgerud J, et alStrong correlation of maximal squat strength with sprint performance and vertical jump height in elite soccer players British Journal of Sports Medicine 2004;38:285-288.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s