Soccer strength training is a bit scarce in the United States at the high school level and below. Many coaches (wrongly) believe that they can send their athletes through a month or two of sprints and conditioning and they’ll be all set for the season. While conditioning is an important aspect of a soccer athlete’s training, strength training will build their bodies to endure a long and grueling season while also enhancing performance.
But securing time in the weight room can be tricky. Trust me, I’ve been there. Being part of a varsity soccer coaching staff, you often get thrown to the bottom of the schedule for the weight room. Unfortunately, most schools place a higher priority on weight training for other fall sports such as football, volleyball, etc. In my coaching experience, we were given two options: 30 minutes in the early morning, before football comes in, or no access at all. But your soccer athletes don’t necessarily need to be inside the weight room to get stronger.
Bodyweight training can be done virtually anywhere. It can be modified for beginners or advanced athletes, and it can be manipulated to fit into any training schedule. Bodyweight training hosts a plethora of benefits that will help create a better athlete. Stability, strength, power, mobility, spatial awareness and conditioning are just a few of the benefits that bodyweight training can provide to ensure your team is well-prepared for your upcoming season.
So how do you implement it? For advanced athletes, a normal Push-Up may not be challenging, or the athlete could lose interest and start to “cheat” the reps or their form. Implementing isometric holds, increasing time under tension or doing AMRAP sets are key factors to making bodyweight training both challenging and exciting for your team. Another huge benefit to bodyweight training is the ability to utilize full body training sessions and movements. Incorporating more muscle groups will help to build overall strength and athleticism.
With that in mind, here are some of my favorite bodyweight movements for soccer players.
Lower-Body Bodyweight Exercises
- Reverse Lunge
- Bodyweight Squat
- Split Squat
- Cossack Squat
Upper-Body Bodyweight Exercises
- Inverted row
- Bear Crawls
- High Plank
Core Bodyweight Exercises
- Sprinter Sit-Up
- Dead Bug
- Mountain Climber
- Side Plank
Here are a few sample bodyweight workouts I have found to be fast, easy and extremely effective.
Lower-Body Bodyweight Workout
- 3×10 yard toe pops
- 3×10 yard falling start sprints
- 3×10 yard push-up start sprints
- 20-yard Sprint x 4 Sets
- Bodyweight Split Squats 4 Sets of 20 seconds each leg
- Bodyweight Lunge 4 Sets of 40 Seconds total
- Repeated Broad Jumps 3 Sets of 20 yards
- Cossack Squat 3 x 10 each leg
- Single-Leg Squats (pistol squat holding a bar in front or rear foot elevated split squat) 3 x 8 each leg
- Single-Leg Toe Touch (extending back foot behind the body, keeping plated leg knee slightly bent) 3 x 8 each leg
- Sprinter Sit-Up/Mountain Climber combo 3 Sets of 25-30 seconds each
Upper-Body Bodyweight Workout
- 3 x 10 yards Bear Crawl
- 3 x 15 second hangs from bar
- 3 x 30 second push-up position holds
- Push-Ups 3 x 10 with 5 count eccentric
- Pull-Up or Inverted Row 3 x 8 with 1 count isometric and 3 second eccentric
- Handstand push-up or handstand hold if unable to do push-up 3 x 20 seconds
- Close Grip Push-Up 3 x 5
- Burpees 4 x 30 seconds
- Dead bug/ mountain climber combo 3 x 30 seconds each
Now that you’ve discovered the beauty of bodyweight training, feel free to develop your own workouts and make the training sessions fun and enjoyable for your athletes. Implement full-body training sessions to recruit more muscle growth and keep your sessions exciting! Next time you’re unable to get in the weight room, keep the strength gains coming with bodyweight training!
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