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This article reviews the major physiological and performance effects of aerobic high-intensity and speed-endurance training in football, and provides insight on implementation of individual game-related physical training. Analysis and physiological measurements have revealed that modern football is highly energetically demanding, and the ability to perform repeated high-intensity work is of importance for the players. Furthermore, the most successful teams perform more high-intensity activities during a game when in possession of the ball. Hence, footballers need a high fitness level to cope with the physical demands of the game. Studies on football players have shown that 8 to 12 wk of aerobic high-intensity running training (>85% HRmax) leads to VO2max enhancement (5% to 11%), increased running economy (3% to 7%), and lower blood lactate accumulation during submaximal exercise, as well as improvements in the yo-yo intermittent recovery (YYIR) test performance (13%). Similar adaptations are observed when performing aerobic high-intensity training with small-sided games. Speed-endurance training has a positive effect on football-specific endurance, as shown by the marked improvements in the YYIR test (22% to 28%) and the ability to perform repeated sprints (~2%). In conclusion, both aerobic and speed-endurance training can be used during the season to improve high-intensity intermittent exercise performance. The type and amount of training should be game related and specific to the technical, tactical, and physical demands imposed on each player.
Iaia and Bangsbo are with the Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, Section of Human Physiology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark. Rampinini is with the Human Performance Laboratory, MAPEI Sport Research Center, Castellanza, Varese, Italy.