Bring the strength onto the pitch!


The Programme


This article and its other elements are aimed at goalkeepers from late teens to adult only.



The aim is to set variable exercises that offer the best results without the boredom of repetition but keeps the body challenged. I mentioned that you need to develop a planned programme, this way you will work through the various body areas that a goalkeeper uses most and at the same time be able to manipulate different components of your workout. I have included a weekly table of my workouts (Gym Exercise Chart) which you can adapt if necessary. An easy way to remember the exercise variables and monitor your programme is by using the F.I.T.T. Principle. This principle is used by top athletes as a control method and to maximise results from their workouts.


  • Frequency – how often you exercise.


  • Intensity – how hard you exercise.


  • Time – how long to exercise.


  • Type – the exercise you are doing.



Using the FITT method you will see changes as you progress with your workouts. Those changes might be; weight, cardio endurance, strength etc. It is important that you use this system as your monitor because as the body adjusts to your current FITT levels you can then start to increase your workout in those areas.


With Frequency we need to consider that the body must have a process of rebuild and repair to replenish the energy reserves that were consumed in the exercise. There is a fine balance between providing just enough stress for the body to adapt too and then allowing enough time for healing and adaptation to occur. Exercises will involve; Cardio Respiratory Training (also called aerobic conditioning) where it is suggested you do a minimum of three sessions per week, ideally five to six; and also Resistance Training which will depend on the workout i.e. if working on individual areas you could do that six days a week; on sessions working on all areas then 3-4 days a week with at least a days rest interval.


Intensity defines the amount of effort that should be given in a training programme or any one session. There must be a balance between finding enough to overload the body (so it can adapt) but not so much that it causes overtraining. This is also where the target heart rate THR becomes your monitor and should be determined before starting and continued during any aerobic training session. For resistance training workload is the primary measure of the intensity and that comprises of three components:


1. The amount of weight lifted during an exercise.


2. The number of repetitions completed for a particular exercise.


3. The length of time to complete all exercises in a set or total training session.




Depending on the purpose to be achieved on the workout i.e. Strength / Power / Muscle Tone or Build refer to the chart for the ratio of repetitions to sets and weight volume.


You can increase workload by lifting heavier weights; or you could increase the number of repetitions with the same weight. Also you could lift the same weight for the same number of repetitions but decrease the rest time between sets. Only increase the intensity using one of these parameters; do not increase weight and decrease rest time in the same session.


Time is self-explanatory and is simply how long each individual session should last. This will vary based on the intensity and type. When conducting Cardio Respiratory Training individuals with lower fitness levels should aim to maintain their heart rate within the THR zone for a minimum of 20-30 minutes. This can increase to as much as 45-60 minutes as fitness levels increase. Beyond this mark there are diminished returns so for all that extra effort the associated benefits are minimal. With Resistance Training the common consensus is no longer than 45-60 minutes. Again, intensity has a say and particularly grueling strength sessions may last as little as 20 - 30 minutes.


Type dictates which exercise you will be doing? Will the session be primarily Cardio Respiratory Training or Resistance Training or a combination of both? Also what specific exercises will you perform? The best type of exercise to tax or improve the cardiovascular system should be continuous and make use of large muscle groups. Examples include running, walking, swimming, cycling, aerobics classes, circuit training etc. The best form of exercise to stress the neuromuscular system is Resistance Training; weights are the obvious choice but resistance bands or a circuit training session that only incorporates bodyweight exercises can also be effective. If you do decide that the gym is your option for workouts then you can maximise your programme by the use of weights as most establishments will offer training and supervision of their use.




Perhaps the most important principle of training (that ironically doesn't have its own letter in the FITT Principle) is Rest. Exercising too frequently and too intensely hinders the body's ability to recover and adapt. As a rule of thumb, the harder you train, the more recovery time you should allow for.


With any sport increased development of strength, agility and power will show some changes in your skills; overall you will see improvement but you might also experience some areas where your new development creates differences or faults because of an increase in speed or ability to extend further than you did previously. Young goalkeepers often see this as they grow because they have not adapted to the changes of size, stance and sometimes balance. As you continue your normal goalkeeper training routine you will quickly adapt to any change as long as you recognise why you might be making these mistakes.




As I said, it is not just about your improved performance as a goalkeeper it is also about taking charge of your health and the healthier you are the more chances of avoiding injuries, so as you start to enjoy the routine and lets not forget the social side of good exercise, you will be helping your future lifestyle. So your next programme is to ensure that as you develop a healthy environment for yourself you do not counter the progress so make sure you are putting the correct intakes into the body. Another article I will publish!


At the beginning I said we should have some rules and understandings; so let’s add a few more as the last thing you want is to obtain an injury eliminating all the good reasons for starting. If you are not an expert or coach in physical education, then ask one! Don’t assume you know unless you really do! Only use weights you can safely handle and on the heaviest you can manage have a spotter or assistant available in case of difficulties. When performing any reps and sets, stick to the format. Don’t over extend any muscle or joint when using a weight or doing squats. Only do an exercise in a stable environment. Stretch before starting and regularly during any set. Don’t over train as it has no real benefits. Enjoy your workouts!


Click  Gym Exercise Chart to proceed or select from main menu.


Thanks for helping produce this article goes to Virgin Active and the personal training instructors Kevin & Sam for their assistance and use of the excellent facilities, to Matt (one of my old firm Goalkeepers) and to Nick Callaghan of Luminex Photography ( whose work can also be seen in other areas of this website.