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Cross training for football players: Benefits & Tips

Have you ever visited a football training facility and watched football players, male or female, running, cycling, rope jumping, or weightlifting with fitness belts? Or perhaps you have seen photos or videos of professional football players indulging in activities, such as swimming and hiking, during their luxurious holidays.

These are examples of cross-training exercises for football players. Cross-training involves incorporating different kinds of exercises outside the main sport to target other muscle groups. By doing so, football players stay fit and conditioned during and off the season.

In this article, we will explain the benefits of cross training for football players. We will also suggest a few tips for cross training.

Benefits of Cross training for football players

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Here are some advantages of cross training for football players:

Target muscles not worked on in soccer

The main goal of cross-training exercises is to target different muscles not utilized in football.

For instance, when football players participate in cross-training activities such as swimming, they target their back muscles, which are not targeted while playing football. In addition, incorporating weightlifting as a cross training activity can allow football players to target several muscles such as arms, chest, abs, etc.

Performing cross-training workouts can promote a well-rounded physique, which improves fitness levels. Since cross-training activities allow athletes to indulge in varying movements, this translates to more power when the sportsperson returns to their sports of focus.

Clinical trials show that greater mobility in antagonistic muscle groups leads to increased power for agonist muscles.

Improves cardiovascular health

Cross-training engages the cardiovascular system and allows football players to target different areas of their cardiovascular system.

Scientific studies have proven that different forms of cross-training exercises produce slightly different cardiac outputs in the cardiovascular system.

One study analyzed the differences in left ventricular structure and function in elite swimmers and runners. It was observed that running is associated with faster left ventricular activity. The left ventricle is a major section of the heart that pumps blood around the body.

Promotes quick recovery

Cross training is beneficial for promoting quick recovery by engaging several muscle groups.

For example, a football player can incorporate rowing exercises into their routine to target their leg muscles. This not helps maintain endurance but also aids in the recovery process from high impact movements.

Proper recovery is crucial to avoid muscle stress and potential injuries.

Reduces the risk of injuries

Athletes fear injuries as they hinder their ability to participate in their sports and perform at their peak level.

Repeatedly focusing on the same muscle groups through one type of exercise can lead to overuse injuries. Moreover certain sports like soccer are prone to types of injuries such as hamstring strains.

The beauty of cross-training lies in its ability to target different muscle groups that are not commonly engaged during regular sports activities.

By doing it reduces strain on the used muscles and ultimately minimizes the risk of long term injuries.

Promotes mental engagement

To excel on the field, players need both fitness and mental sharpness.

However, continuous intense training for games often demands concentration, determination and time commitment. As time goes on, this can lead to burnout and mental exhaustion.

Furthermore, integrating cross training into the training regimen adds a new dimension. It keeps football players mentally stimulated. When football players resume their training routines, they will experience a mental boost and renewed motivation leading to improved performance.

Cross-training tips for football players

Here are some cross training tips for football players:

Choose non-impact exercises

Since you will run during your usual game training, you should focus on non-impact exercises like cycling.

Do not overtrain

To avoid overtraining, ensure you keep your training intensity at approximately 80% of your max efforts.

Ensure your cross-training is less than a regular game period or practice

You can cross time for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on your schedule and the nature of the workout

Cross-train 3 to 5 times weekly

Depending on your schedule, you can cross-train 3 – 5 times weekly. If you play football games three times weekly, you can cross-train for 2 – 5 times.


Is cross training good for athletes?

Yes, cross-training is good for athletes because it helps improve fitness, cardiovascular health, and reduces consistent muscle strain and risk of injuries.

What is an example of cross-training?

Some common examples of cross-training are football players lifting weights to build strength and size, runners indulging in cycling to build and maintain stamina, and swimmers indulging in rowing to engage leg muscles.

What is the cross training method?

Cross training method involves incorporating different kinds of exercises to engage several muscle groups.


Cross-training for football players is crucial because it contributes to their fitness and performance levels.

Some benefits of cross-training include maintaining cardiovascular health, building fitness, engaging various muscle groups, promoting mental strength and quick recovery, and reducing the risk of injuries.

Some examples of cross-training exercises for football players include swimming, cycling, pool running, yoga, hiking, and weightlifting.


Elliott, D., & Massey, D. (2020). Effect of acute antagonist static stretching on upper-body agonist power. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 15(1), 53-59.

Currie KD, Coates AM, Slysz JT, Aubry RL, Whinton AK, Mountjoy ML, Millar PJ, Burr JF. Left Ventricular Structure and Function in Elite Swimmers and Runners. Front Physiol. November 28, 2018, 9:1700. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01700. PMID: 30546320; PMCID: PMC6279850.

The published material expresses the position of the author, which may not coincide with the opinion of the editor.

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