How to Get in Shape for Soccer When You're Over 40
Soccer involves vigorous physical activity of running, kicking and throwing. Regardless of your age, soccer can have you gasping for air and feeling like you were hit by a truck if you're out of shape. To prepare for playing soccer if you're older than 40, a regimen of exercise and a healthy diet will get you started in the right direction.
Lose weight by burning or reducing your calorie intake. There are 3,500 calories in 1 pound of fat, so you need a calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per week to lose 1 to 2 pounds. Your main diet should consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Aerobic activity also burns calories and helps you lose weight. Aim for 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity most days of the week. Activities can include dancing, jogging, a brisk walk or playing practice soccer with your friends or kids.
Strengthen your legs with squats. Squats are beneficial for strengthening the lower body and even your abdominals. You need strong legs to kick and run. While getting in shape, use only your body weight for squats, but as you become more comfortable and stronger performing squats, you can add weight with dumbbells or a barbell. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Pull your shoulders down and rest your arms at the side of your hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles and push your weight into your heels. Keep your head straight with your face looking at the wall in front of you during the entire squat. Bend your knees and hips simultaneously as if trying to sit in an invisible chair. Your thighs should be almost parallel to the floor and your knees are not past your toes. Your back remains straight. Exhale and push your feet into the floor as your rise to a standing position. Perform 12 repetitions.
Perform front planks to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles. Move to the floor on your hands and knees and lower your forearms to the floor and place your elbows under your shoulders. Lace your fingers in a prayer-like position and straighten your legs behind you as if attempting a pushup. Rise your body up while engaging your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine. All your body weight should be balance between your forearms and your toes. Hold the front plank for 30 seconds.
Perform hip flexors to improve flexibility. Hip flexors are an important stretch for playing soccer because the hips are constantly in motion. To perform hip flexors, kneel down with one knee of the floor and the other knee bent in front of you with the foot flat on the ground, as if you're proposing marriage. Tighten your abdominal muscles to keep the spine straight as you push your hips forward. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
It's easy to lose track of your calorie consumption, so write down everything you consume, pay attention to serving sizes and avoid snacking from the box.
Some additional leg exercises to try are calf raises, stair climbers, single leg squats and jump roping.
To increase the difficulty of a plank hold, raise one foot off the ground about 6 inches. If the plank hold is too difficult, try balancing your weight between your forearms and knees.
Additional core exercises include crunches, Supermans, back extensions and bicycles.
Reach back during hip flexors and lift your foot off the floor to include the quadriceps in this stretch, according to the Sports Injury Clinic.
Additional stretches that are beneficial for soccer are standing groin stretches, sitting with your legs straight and reaching for your toes, and pushing against a wall to stretch your calf.
Always consult with a doctor before participating in vigorous sports or a new exercise routine, especially if you have underlying health conditions.
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.