How five-a-side football can improve your health and fitness 7 months ago

How five-a-side football can improve your health and fitness

Sponsored by Goals Soccer Centres

You might just see it as a laugh with mates, but a good kick-about works wonders for your health and fitness

When you look at what's required from a game of five, six or seven -a-side football, the benefits it brings are clear. It's time to lace up those astros and take to the pitch.

Prolonged performance

Although a five-a-side match is much shorter than a full 90 minutes, it's still a great fitness boost. Football involves the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, meaning you burn body fat and carbs when you take to the field.

It also enhances your heart health, which carries crossover to all aspects of life. Your VO2 max is enhanced, and this measures how much oxygen you use when working out. It's improved by football, but in doing so also improves your footballing performance.

If you're a keen gym goer, a greater VO2 max means you'll be able to train at a greater intensity, hitting the heavier weights for more reps.


A workout with mates

The benefits of five-a-side go beyond having a laugh with your pals. For starters, you lose more weight working out as part of a group. Researchers believe this is due to the social community fostered by group exercise.

Weight loss is just one aspect of health improved by a good kick-about, however. Group exercise aids your quality of life in four major ways: improved mental health, boosted physical health and enhanced emotional wellbeing.

According to a recent UEFA report, playing football prevents over 5,000 cases of mental health issues from escalating.

Stress levels are also reduced by around 26% with consistent group exercise. All the more reason for you to join a weekly five-a-side league with your friends.

Fundamental all-round fitness

Your footballing performance is enhanced by work in the gym, too. Speed, power and endurance can make the difference between being on the losing side, or going home the winner.

The main five-a-side football attributes can all be boosted by carefully selecting the correct exercises.


Power: the difference between winning a tackle, out-muscling the opposition or winning an aerial battle

Banded Bench Press: loop a resistance band around each end of a loaded barbell. Complete 4 sets of 6-8 reps. Control the lowering portion of the lift with a 3-seconds down tempo, but explode up in 1 second on the pressing phase.

Speed: pace is arguably a player's most powerful attribute. Out-pace the defence when running onto a through ball, or vice versa, keep up with a fast attacker.

Barbell Back Squats: these are as vital to improving your sprint speed as sprinting itself. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research had participants perform 1 rep max barbell squats while also testing their 5, 10 and 20 metre sprint times. A bigger squat equalled a faster time.

Endurance: sustain performance for longer with enhanced fitness levels.

Tabata Cycling: This style of cardio training helps whip the game's elite into shape during pre-season. Footballers usually perform it on an exercise bike, following this plan:

  • 20 seconds sprint cycle
  • 10 seconds rest
  • Repeat this 8 times
  • Perform 4 times a week

With each Tabata drill only taking a swift four minutes, your total weekly workout time will only amount to 16 minutes. That's just under one half of five-a-side at a Goals Soccer Centre.