FIFA World Cup players typically run between six to seven miles during a 90 minute contest. The running is not a steady pace, but intense bursts of speed followed by a walk or jog and then more bursts. Many of the athletes look like male models. They are fit and trim with great muscle tone. Many fans are curious about the fitness secrets of the FIFA World Cup athletes. Simply put, these running machines do a generous helping of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to achieve top fitness levels. Many soccer players also engage in weight training, which can also fit within a HIIT format.
World cup athletes do multiple running sets of sprints to prepare for the rigors of their sport. The sets can involve sprints ranging from 20 to 100 yards with brief rests between sprints. Playing world cup games requires that the athlete’s body recover quickly between all out bursts. When sprinting, an athlete’s heart race skyrockets to 180 beats per minute or more. An unconditioned person who tries sprinting will have their heart rate remain elevated for an extended period after the all-out effort. For the HIIT trained World Cup athletes, their heart rate quickly rebounds to a much slower rate so they will have the energy to sprint again.
For weekend warriors or wannabe athletes who desire to mimic the World Cup training regimen, the typical HIIT protocol is to sprint all-out for 30 seconds to one minute, then slowly jog for about two minutes, then repeat the cycle six to eight times. For those unable to sprint, the “all-out” phase can involve faster running, enough to achieve an elevated heart rate. The HIIT workout can even be done on a treadmill, although athletes must be careful because the treadmill often does not slow down as fast as the runner might prefer when entering the slow phase.
The HIIT workouts used by FIFA World Cup athletes to achieve elite fitness levels can also be copied using weights or other equipment such as a stationary bike. The important secret to adapt to the workout is to go all-out for quick bursts, followed by slower paced exercise. In addition to enhanced cardiovascular fitness, a side benefit of HIIT training is the enhanced production of human growth hormone (HGH) by the body. Those reading about athlete testing issues surrounding HGH may be concerned, but the athletes who run into trouble are those who attempt to increase their HGH levels using foreign substances. Enhancing the body’s HGH production using natural methods such as HIIT is beneficial.
For those looking to take advantage of the FIFA World Cup fitness secrets through a HIIT workout, checking in with your doctor is wise before getting started. You need to make sure you are capable for an all-out fitness regimen. The beauty of HIIT for most is that a workout can be completed in less than 15 minutes if done correctly. The World Cup players do many more sprints than a weekend warrior, but everyone can obtain a good portion of the benefits derived by the world-class athletes through a scaled down HIIT routine.
By William Costolo