Betfred Sport

Peak Fitness: High intensity aerobic training drill

Jordan McCann is head of sport science, fitness and conditioning at Blue Square Bet Premier Division high flyers Luton Town.

He has an undergraduate degree in sport and exercise science from Loughborough University (focusing on muscular kinesiology and applied sport science in football).

He also holds the coveted FA Fitness Trainers award and is nearing completion for UK Strength and Conditioning Association Accreditation whilst studying a part-time MSc degree in strength and conditioning at Middlesex University. 

Jordan kicks off his new column by talking us through a drill for high intensity aerobic training. 

High Intensity Aerobic Football

1) Maintain heart rate at the top end of players’ aerobic training zone (85%-95%) HR max. All players wearing heart rate monitors for post-session analysis.
2) Increase players’ maximal oxygen uptake.

3) Central and peripheral aerobic system adaptations.

Pitch size – 45m x 35m.
Distance to gates – 40m (80m in total there and back based on % vVo2max from pre-season testing).

Ensure plenty of balls are placed round the pitch to keep the game flowing.


5v5, game time = 4 minutes per game in line with football specific research by Hoff et al (2003) for maximal aerobic gains. Each team plays a total of 4 games with 3 minutes active recovery (dynamic / proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching in between).

At the end of every 1 minute of play, ALL players have to get off the pitch through the gates (yellow), and back onto the pitch in the quickest time possible. The first player back will get the ball and have the opportunity to attack 1v1 with the goalkeeper. 

If numbers are more than 10 the coach can make the playing area bigger (recommended 5yds per player). Alternatively, if you are presented with odd numbers you can introduce a floater who has a choice which gate to go through. Floaters can’t directly affect the outcome of the game.

Season progressions:
Increase distance of gates from the pitch.
Decrease rest period between games.
Increase pitch size.
Decrease team numbers maintaining the same area.

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