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How to build match fitness - and maintain it

If you’ve had a long lay-off with injury or simply haven’t kicked a football for a few months, then you’ll need to get fit before you lace up your boots again.

Rather than jumping on a treadmill and running aimlessly for 30 minutes, try these interval-training sessions from Charlton’s sports scientist, Josh Hornby.

He’ll teach you how to build a base level of fitness, increase the intensity and then preserve your hard earned fitness if you don’t have a game. 

Build a base level of fitness
“If you’re unfit, then you need to start by building an aerobic base of fitness,” says Hornby. “At Charlton, the players will do 6x4 minute blocks of tempo running, at a good pace, with a two-minute rest between each one. This will lay the foundations for more intense fitness work, once they’re ready."

Push yourself with interval training 
“To increase the intensity, we begin with sprints of 15 seconds, with a 15 second rest between each one. If you do eight repetitions, that will add up to a four-minute block of work. In a match, you tend to work for periods of four minutes at high intensity, followed by lower periods of intensity – this mimics that.”

Maintain your fitness
“Once you’re match fit, it’s important to maintain your fitness throughout the season. If you have a game called off or you’re not involved, try and do a session, which will replicate the demands of a game. If a player hasn’t played they would do 6x20s sprints (20s rest between each). Then 8x15s sprints (15s rest between each) and finally 10x10s (10s rest between each).

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