Clint Dempsey trickled a goal through the arms of goalkeeper Robert Greene to earn a draw for the United States in the opening round of the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament. Dempsey, a midfielder for the U.S. National Team, has been known to run almost 8 miles per game. Men’s Health recently revealed the training secrets of four members of the U.S. squad, including those of Clint Dempsey, with a soccer workout devised for endurance, strength, speed and agility. The Celebrity Workout’s first look at the soccer workout for each of those skills will be at the endurance training of Clint Dempsey.
Scott Piri, director of soccer for Athletes’ Performance, which oversees fitness for the U.S. men’s team, says, “Running in soccer is interval based Midfielders mix jogging, running, high-speed running, and sprinting.”
Dempsey, who currently plays for Fulham, says “My competitiveness pushes me. That’s where I gain my edge–the willingness to push myself. If you’re not doing it, someone else will.”
“Clint’s not a freak born with incredible running ability,” says Pierre Barrieu, the national team fitness coach. “He’s worked a lot on his running because he knows he needs it to play at his best.” There’s a special payoff to having gas left in the tank. “You see most goals scored in the final 15 minutes of a game,” says Piri. “You’ve been running for 75 minutes, and the question is, Can you still run hard?”
Test Your Endurance
Do this interval workout developed by German national team fitness coach Shad Forsythe:
1) Run for 4 minutes at the fastest pace you can. Note the distance you covered.
2) Jog slowly for 3 minutes
3) Repeat 2 more times.
4) Take an average of the distance you covered while running the three fast intervals.
Now take the average you found in step 4:
Average endurance – .4 miles
Great endurance – .6 miles
World Class endurance – .8 miles
TCW Says… Keep in mind that running on the treadmill may be easier to record the distance you covered but it is also not as challenging as your calves do not have to work nearly as hard to propel you. TCW suggests raising the incline of the treadmill to between 1.0 and 2.0 to simulate running outdoors (e.g.,wind resistance).
If your test results aren’t as good as you’d like, use this soccer workout program featured on the Men’s Health website and then re-test yourself in a few weeks to see how much improvement you have made. Remember, you must push through your comfort zone to get results.
Build World-Class Endurance
1. Forge Speed Stamina
Doing four 4-minute incline-running intervals twice a week at 90 to 95 percent of maximum heart rate–with 3 minutes easy jogging between each interval–improves cardiovascular fitness by half a percent each session, according to Norwegian research. (Think of the cumulative effect!) A recreational athlete can benefit from similar training, but at lesser intensity. Piri recommends starting out with five 15-second, 110-meter sprints with 30 seconds active recovery, twice a week. As you become fitter, gradually extend the number of reps and the length of the sprint, and reduce the recovery time.
TCW says…We agree with Piri here. Even those in very good shape will find it difficult to hold their heart rate at 95% of max for 4 minutes straight. Vary the length of your intervals and your rest periods and gradually build up over time. If the intervals are easy for you then you aren’t going hard enough. If you can only complete a 15 or 20 second sprint at 90% of your max heart rate, that’s okay too. Keep a log of your training and constantly work to improve on your times and the intensity of your workouts. That is how you make progress.
2. Extend Muscle Endurance
Piri recommends adding this mini-circuit to your workout three times a week. Do 1 set of each exercise with 30 seconds rest.
A. Plank with arm lift
Assume a pushup position but with your forearms firmly on the ground. Lift your right arm up and slightly to the right and hold for 2 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat with your left arm. Complete 5 to 10 reps on each side.
B. Marching lateral plank
Lie on your left side with your legs straight and body in a straight line propped on your left forearm. Lift your bottom knee to your chest, hold for 2 seconds, and return. Lift your top knee to your chest, hold for 2 seconds, and return. That’s 1 rep. Do 5 to 10 reps. Switch sides.
C. Marching hip raise
Lie face up with your arms at your sides, knees bent, and heels on the ground. Lift your hips until your knees, hips, and shoulders form a straight line. Hold the position while lifting your right knee to your chest. Return your foot to the ground and repeat with your left knee. That’s 1 rep. Complete 5 to 10 reps on each side.
3. Build Your Foundation
To make running more interesting and to quicken your gains, do a fartlek workout once a week, says Piri. Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play” and involves 30 minutes of running. Within that session, you sprint when you feel great, run when you feel good, and jog when you’re panting. The key is to listen to your body and push yourself by creating your own impromptu interval workout.
TCW says…We love these workouts. They give your body a challenge and prevent you from getting into a stagnant, steady state of cardio that gives you minimal improvement. The bottom line is that if you run an 8 minute mile, and all you do is train at an 8 minute pace, then you will never run faster. You must train your body to react, adapt, and recover from faster and more diverse workouts to improve your results.
Clint Dempsey Peak Performance Tip
“I try to swim for 30 minutes the day after every game,” says Dempsey. “It’s a great way to exercise and boost circulation without putting pressure on your joints.”
TCW says…Do yourself a favor and start getting in the pool. You will burn a ton of calories and feel great afterward. Proper technique will make a huge difference to how much swimming you will be able to do. One or two short lessons, or a quick search on YouTube for some swimming tips will make a huge difference in your training.
For more of our World Cup soccer workout tips be sure to check out our previous post on Jonathan Bornstein and check back for more training advice from stars Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard, and Oguchi Onyewu.