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How do I train and lose weight for soccer?

Most soccer players are thin, notes soccer coach Taylor Tollison. If you are among the small percentage of overweight players, consider a best  training regimen that is kind to your joints, especially with your knees. The National Institutes of Health reports that overweight athletes often feel pangs of pain.

Misconceptions

Tollison points out that traditional weight loss programs say that in order to lose weight, you need to do continuous cardio for 20 minutes a day, at least three times a week.However, continuous exercise adversely affects energy by making the fast twitch muscle fibers very slow, making you a slower athlete. This is not a plus for soccer. He recommends eliminating long distance races and focusing on interval training, which combines intense bursts of activity with slow interludes.

Benefits

Playing soccer will help you lose weight, even if it is only with practice games or with some players. Peter Krustrup, a professor in the Department of Exercise and Sports Scientists, published a report in 2008 on this subject in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. He said that soccer players, compared to runners and with a controlled group, lost more weight: 6 pounds in 12 weeks. The training consisted of small one-hour exercises, two to three times a week. These brought better weight loss results than with moderate intensity races. This is probably due to the beneficial changes of soccer soccer from trotting strides, to high intensity sprinting that resemble interval training.

Considerations

Soccer players have to consume a diet rich in carbohydrates, calcium and iron to ensure overall health, writes British sports scientist Thomas Reilly in Science and Soccer. Women with high training loads, especially need to avoid disturbances of the normal menstrual cycle, meaning that weight loss may not be a correct goal. In a critique of the medical literature, Reilly found that soccer players’ body competition tends to be closer to that of other team sports than to the ultra slim profile of endurance athletes. Body fat percentages of about 18 to 26 percent in female soccer players, with most around 21 percent, resemble those of the general population.

Expert Opinion

Enrico Arcelli, an Italian sports nutritionist and professional team adviser, explains in Nutrition for Soccer Players that the important goal for a soccer player, as for any athlete, is to reduce body fat and not to “lose weight” per se. Weight loss can only mean that you have sweated a lot during a match or lost muscle and glycogen, which is not the goal. The real place to lose weight is the fat pound, not muscle pounds.

Time frame

If you need to lose weight, do it in the off-season, so you can keep your energy high for competition, recommends the American Dietetic Association. To avoid gaining weight in the off-season, reduce your calorie intake. If you are a typical soccer player, the time you gain the most weight is in the low season and the weight loss occurs with the pre-season training. Ask a doctor about what you really need to lose weight before starting a diet or a training program, advises physiologist Don Kirkendall of the University of North Carolina.