I'm currently a university student and would like to play on the football team. Unfortunately my fitness holds me back. I'm not completely unfit- I'm reasonably fast although I tire too quickly for my liking.
Is there any specific program that would improve my fitness in time for September/October?
Edit: I would like mainly cardiovascular activities involving minimal use of any form of gym equipment
As someone who plays football at youth level, I suppose all I can do is share what has worked from me in my own experience.
Firstly, this is obvious but many people neglect the fact that football is played at different intensities. It's not a marathon, you don't run at the same pace for 90 minutes. For this reason, you have to train your body to be able to jog, run at 50% intensity, run at 70% intensity, and sprint for variable distances/durations.
Fartlek training (excuse my spelling if that's not correct) is a good way to build on this. It involves basically setting out a plan whereby you decide how long you will run for, and at what intensities. E.G you could jog for 20 seconds, sprint for 10 seconds, then rest (walk) for 10 seconds, repeating this for half an hour etc. You could then go up to 35 minutes and/or decrease the rest to 6 seconds walking
As boring as it may sound, you may want to do some treadmill work at first, just to build your general cardiovascular capacity. Set yourself targets, I've not used one for over a year but I think at my peak I was aiming for around 8km in 30 minutes.
Mix things up, invest in some good trainers and get yourself an iPod if you don't have one - nothing beats running to some good music.
Don't neglect your diet, and you should be fine! Just remember different intensities, go for short sprints with rest in between etc.
Do some HIIT and steady state runs. Keep the latter longer to build endurance (go easier and concentrate on distance), the former is good for speed and power. This mix will work well. You could also throw in a medium distance/faster run. The 'easy' run will allow you to recover as HIIT is quite taxing. You can also do HIIT on a bike but nothing beats a run outside.
To start go 3 times a week and up to 4-5 eventually. Do it properly and watch your fitness shoot up.