Endurance and Fitness for Women's Football

Fitness Advice from Maxinutrition

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Endurance and Fitness for Women's Football

Whatever your gender, whatever your sport – endurance and training is a vital step in establishing the difference between the average and the elite. No Premier League footballer is unfit – and therefore no football player aiming to be competitive should be. Despite this, you witness many players who can’t withstand 90 minutes of mixed intensity playing.

Fortunately, building endurance and fitness is not complicated. A team can be put through a variety of training drills and given smart nutritional goals to help them build pro-level cardio that will keep them playing at their best through the full distance of the match.


The word protein doesn’t carry the same stigma it used to – it was a term once associated with bodybuilders and hardcore gym users. Nowadays, most people understand the importance of protein in the process of muscle recovery. When the body undergoes muscular stress in periods of intensity (such as sprinting), your muscles need the amino acids protein contains to help aid their recovery. Female players can often have low protein intakes, so a coach could consider supplementing with lean whey protein shakes that will help players meet their intake needs.

Players may also need to consume energy bars or isotonic drinks to give them the carbohydrate fuel they need pre-training in order to excel. Once they’re ready nutritionally, it’s time to tackle training…

Endurance Training Drills


High intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves periods of high and low intensity, helps improve a player’s anaerobic system – which in turn increases their cardiovascular system. Female athletes can improve their tolerance to max effort cardio by forcing lactic acid into the muscles, which oxygen then flushes out. This means the body becomes more resistant to lactate.  

To run HIIT drills, assign players a set ‘course’ of two cones laid out around 400m apart. Run a lap at standard pace and sprint the next. Continue this for ‘reps.’

Continuous training

Continuous training is the practice of having athletes endure a certain effort of exertion for extended periods. Each week, put players through a different level of intensity. For example:

·         Working at 50-60% is a good way to get rid of bodyfat without overextending your cardio system. This can last for around 60 minutes. Jogging on a treadmill is a good way to set the level and pace for that length of time. 

·         Increasing the intensity to 70-80% of a player’s work rate means their body will begin to use glycogen – limiting the time they can keep this level up for to about 30-45 minutes.

·         If you then push players to work at 80-90% of their maximum work rate, they’ll begin increasing their lactate threshold as their body comes under strain. This activity should only last for 10 to 20 minutes maximum and allow a good rest period. A heightened speed run on a treadmill can stimulate this max-effort continuous period.

By mixing these styles of training, players will begin to build tolerance to the varying levels of intensity that occur during a match. When they’re comfortable at each, they’ll excel on the pitch.


You can use protein shakes to ensure your athletes are meeting the demands of post-workout recovery that the body craves. Ensuring good carbohydrate replenishment will help prevent fatigue while you run a training program. Ideally, you should have your players performing two endurance training days per week mixed in with their actual football training.


Neither are workable or likely at present but hypothetically, would you prefer a more strict salary cap in the FA WSL OR should centrally contracted England players (that receive salaries from The FA) be allocated more evenly around WSL1 clubs?

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