How Soccer Athletes Should Approach Strength Training

Soccer players should have their own approach to strength training. Learn the best exercises for your soccer strength program.

Soccer Strength Training

Building muscle for soccer doesn't take fancy training equipment. Athletes just need to focus on quality movements and build strength that transfers to the pitch.

Soccer taxes all of the body's muscles. Players are in constant motion, alternating between steady state cardio and top speed. The game requires all of your muscles to fire together properly. Hence the importance of full-body workouts. Performing at least 45 minutes of your overall training in the weight room can bring your strength and power to peak levels while toning and increasing your lean muscle mass.

Here's how to make the most of your soccer strength training time.

Soccer Strength Training

Lower Body

Soccer athletes must have their glutes firing properly when they run down the field. To build strength and endurance in your leg muscles, use a variety of techniques. In soccer you never do any movement with both feet on the ground. Lateral and vertical movements always come off a one-foot base. This makes single-leg training critically important. It instills lower-body muscle memory, building the ability to respond well during action on the pitch.

Your weight room workout should always include:

Start by using two legs to establish proper form. Then make the moves sport-specific by using one leg at a time. (For an example of one leg training movements, see  Tobin Heath Box Jumps/Juggling Combo.)

Another type of training that is beneficial for soccer players is a form of interval work called "Tabata training." It is great for building strength and endurance. Pick an exercise or a movement and do it at max intensity for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat eight times. You will be working only four minutes, but you will be going all out. The Tabata method can be applied to any exercise, even your cardio. (See Improve Conditioning With Tabata Interval Training.)

Upper Body

It's not enough to just train your lower body and do cardio workouts. You must also train your upper body. The ability to fend off defenders and box them away from the ball is key. Strong arms and shoulders will also help you make better throw-ins.

A common misconception about training is that using light weight and more reps helps an athlete keep a lean figure. The truth is you can stay lean while doing fewer reps with heavier weight.  Any press movements (e.g., the Bench Press) should be performed at a lower rep range (6 to 8) to promote optimal gains.

Your weight room workout can incorporate:

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock