I was fortunate enough to play collegiate level soccer for the Berry College Vikings for three years before making the decision to end my playing days due to injuries. Fortunately for you, I won't bore you with the details of that. Rather, I will concentrate on how I managed to balance the two effectively.
First and foremost, I made a commitment to the Berry College soccer program and one which I was going to stand by. We were required to practice Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 6 p.m. and sometimes on Saturday. The most arduous part about playing soccer for Berry was the preseason training camp which is about 10 days long. During this period, we train three times per day with the first session being geared more towards fitness.
This meant a lot of running around 6 a.m. This was pure torture but as I said before, we had all made a commitment and we were obligated to do it. We were allowed a couple of hours to eat breakfast and rest before heading out for our first technical training session with the ball which once again required a lot of fitness work. This lasted until about noon where we were given a few hours to shower, eat and just relax. Then around 4 p.m., we would head out once again for our final training session which lasted until about 7 p.m.
Now imagine doing all of this in the blistering summer heat on a daily basis. Even during this intense preseason training, I still found the energy to hit the weights after dinner. Although my teammates thought I was crazy for doing this, I didn't let it bother me. Although I hadn't competed yet, I wanted so badly to be a bodybuilder and I knew that this is the only way I would get there. I had to train when no one else wanted to train.
To be the best, you have to make sacrifices. I routinely went to the gym after three soccer training sessions per day for the entire preseason. Then once school started up, we were pegged back to training only once per day from 3:30 to 6 p.m. This may sound easier for one to get in weight training but you also have to take into consideration that now there were classes to deal with. And you know with classes comes a plethora homework. So here's how my schedule went for an entire semester:
9 a.m. - Wake up
9:30 a.m. - Breakfast
10 a.m.- 3 p.m. - Classes
3:30 p.m.- 6 p.m. - Soccer training
9 p.m.- 10:30 p.m. - Weight training
11 p.m.- 2 a.m. - Various school related work
On the days we had away games, I would have to coordinate with my training partner so we could train at an earlier time. I made sure to meet his needs as well as mine because we both had a lot of school work to deal with.
So if you're thinking about playing a college sport which requires a ton of running and you're also into bodybuilding, then you may want to kiss any size you have good bye for the time being. I actually had the crazy idea that I could put on muscle while doing all of that running. The truth of the matter is that it can be done BUT it requires way too much eating. So much eating that it would be nearly a full-time job and it would cost you an arm and a leg in money. Frankly, I didn't have the stomach or the wallet for that type of gorging.
If you're thinking about this too, then I have one important piece of advice to give you. Just forget about making any type of size gains and just enjoy your sport. You can continue to lift hard in the gym but remember that you have the rest of your life to body build and get huge but you only have so much time as a competitive athlete. It takes a lot of work and discipline but juggling sports, bodybuilding and school can be done. You just have to want it bad enough.
As far as weight training goes, I tried to train as heavy as I possibly could in the 6-10 rep range. I actually was able to get stronger during the soccer season but my body weight kept dropping. This is expected if one is running like a chicken with his head cut off for three hours every day. I trained each body part with the exception of legs once each week. I just didn't touch my legs during the season.
They were getting more than their fair share of work from all of the running. We basically trained Sunday - Thursday from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Although I was tired most of the time, I still found the energy to make it to the gym. A little Xenadrine here and there helped out a lot too.
As far as eating was concerned, I tried to eat as much clean foods as possible. I found this rather difficult when we were on the road because our coach would only stop at Wendy's. I don't know if he had a secret obsession for that stuff or what but if we were stopping to eat anywhere, you could bet your life savings that it was going to be Wendy's. I supplemented with protein shakes and creatine right after training to help the recovery process. I actually recovered a lot faster while doing all of that cardio as opposed to now which takes me four or five days to recover from an intense workout.
Now that I think about it, the entire time that I played competitive soccer and weight trained intensely, I was basically getting ready for a show. I was extremely lean with hard muscles. I remember weighing 168 pounds at the end of one semester and vowed to put my weight back on. After that period of starvation, I put on almost 30 lbs in about 5 weeks with strict eating and rigorous weight training. This was basically rebound weight which all bodybuilders experience after a contest. Your body is so starved that it will cling on to everything that you put into your system to help offset the starvation.
To be truthful with you, there's not a lot of science behind juggling a competitive sport and bodybuilding. You just have to have the mentality that you're going to excel in both areas and you have to stick with it no matter how tough things get. It's not going to be easy but it's well worth it. Now I can look back and say that I did this and know that there isn't much else that I can do that is more physically demanding that playing collegiate level soccer and bodybuilding.