World Cup workout

Don’t just watch the action in Brazil – get fit with football-focused drills from around the globe

Brazil: Capoeira kick

More after the break

The exercise: “Capoeira can improve flexibility and kicking power,” explains Roger Spry, football coach and capoeira specialist. “A ‘Martelo-em-Pe’, which is a roundhouse-style kick, works these areas perfectly.”


How to: This move has the kicking leg rising with the knee and turning inward toward the kicking surface. The leg ‘snaps’ toward the opponent. In capoeira the emphasis is on speed and deception rather than knockout – for ‘opponent’, read ‘ball’.



Mexico: Lagartijas press-up

The exercise: “Lagartijas are press-ups with a twist – it means ‘small lizards’,” says Mexican FA  sports scientist Beatriz Boullosa. 


How to: Challenge your chest, abs and obliques by raising alternate knees at the lowest point of the press-up, raising the knee to meet the elbow, lizard-style. Flicking out your tongue is optional.


France: French press

The exercise: A French Foreign Legion exercise, the French Press is a barbell lift technique that targets triceps and upper-body strength.


How to: On a bench, hold a barbell above your head with a weight you can comfortably perform 10-15 reps with. Hands close together in the centre, lower the bar behind your head, feel the triceps stretch, then raise to the start position.  


Russia: Russian Twist

The exercise: This Cold War drill is now employed by players to tone a tighter middle and improve on-the-ball strength with a tougher core.


How to: Begin in a sit-up position, feet together and slightly off the ground, with your back off the ground, too – arms out front, holding a ball. Swing the ball from side to side in a twisting motion, with each swing counting as one repetition, to work the abdomen.



South Korea: Taekwondo stretch

The exercise: “We use a hurdler’s stretch to open up the hips and groin, stretching hamstrings and calf muscles too,” says taekwondo instructor Vince Farquharson.


How to: Sit and bend your left leg so the sole of your foot is against your left buttock, knee close to the ground. Sit tall, engage your abs to stabilise the spine and slowly bend from your hips, sliding your hands down your right thigh towards your ankle. Hold for 10 seconds. Do this 2-4 times, then alternate legs.


And if you have a ball...


Portugal: Possession tactics

The exercise: “The Portuguese use ‘Meinhos’ to fine-tune possession,” says Nilton Terroso, sports scientist and fitness coach at Cardiff City.


How to: ‘Meinhos’ are possession games with overloaded numbers; for example, 5 vs 3 in a diamond with another ‘floating’ player on whichever team is in possession. It recreates attack against defence and develops one- and two-touch passing, movement and awareness.

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