Soccer Strength and Speed

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For the past three seasons, the New York Red Bulls have used their speed and quickness to advance to the MLS playoffs, including a spot in the MLS Cup in 2008. The man responsible for boosting the Red Bulls' speed on the pitch is head fitness coach Pierre Barrieu.

Advocating a steady diet of weight room training, Barrieu gets his athletes to buy into the notion that improving their strength will enhance their speed and quickness. Lifts that directly improve the players' performance are the foundation of his program. He says, "In the soccer environment, you produce very quick hip flexion and hip extension, which is the first motion of any quickness for any soccer player."

To ensure that the Red Bulls are first to the ball, Barrieu has them perform the Barbell Push Press once a week throughout the off-season.

Barbell Push Press
• In standing position, grab barbell slightly wider than shoulder width using overhand grip
• Rest barbell at clavicle level
• Without bending knees, slightly push butt back and explosively drive bar overhead
• Slowly lower to start position
• Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 4x6
Coaching Points: Make sure your elbows point down and forward in the start position // Use your momentum to explosively push the barbell over your head until your arms are fully extended // Keep the bar balanced and under control // Perform the exercise as quickly as possible
Benefit: It's a quick, standing exercise and it's multi-joint.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock