At just 26 years of age, U.S. Women's National Soccer Team forward Tobin Heath is a three-time national champion, titles she won as a North Carolina Tar Heel; a two-time Olympic gold medalist; and a member of the 2011 World Cup team that got all the way to the final before falling to Japan.
As you might guess, finishing second doesn't sit well with either Heath or the USWNT. So as the star prepared for another go at global dominance in June, she focused on becoming stronger and more explosive in her legs, which do about 90 percent of the work on the soccer field.
"A lot of soccer movements are very explosive, and it's a lot of changing direction," Heath says. "Anything you really want to do with the ball, you need that leg strength and that leg endurance."
With fresher, stronger legs, Heath and the rest of the USWNT hope to erase memories of the loss to Japan with a fresh championship this summer in Canada.
Soccer Leg Workout
Heath uses a variety of explosive exercises to build strength in her lower body. The moves also increase her quickness and agility for when she needs to turn on a dime during games. To improve your own performance on the pitch, follow her lower body strength and power circuit, performing 6 to 8 reps of each move before moving on to the next. Rest 60 seconds between rounds.
Stand in an athletic stance 6 to 12 inches in front of a box. Bend your hips and knees to slowly lower into a Squat. When your butt taps the top of the box, explosively drive out of the Squat.
Stand with your right foot on top of a box and your rear leg on the ground behind it. Contract your right quad and glute to explosively drive your body up until you're standing on one leg on top of the box. Drive your left knee up until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Bend your right knee and hip to lower your left leg to the ground and return to the starting position. Finish your reps for the set, then switch sides.
Starting from an athletic stance, step forward with your right leg until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Extend your left leg behind you one to two inches above the ground. Push through your front leg to return to the starting position. Repeat, then perform your reps with the opposite leg forward.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart about an arms-length away from a plyo box. Lower into a quarter-squat, then explode through your hips, knees and ankles to jump on top of the box. Land softly with bent knees. Step down slowly and repeat.
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