Soccer players’ main problem is that they don’t train their upper bodies for strength. Instead, they do high reps with low weights in circuit-type training. When I train my athletes, the loads I use for their upper bodies are as heavy as those I use for their lower bodies. We work up to five one-rep maxes in main upper-body movements, such as any Bench Press or Chin-Up variation. Soccer players need to train their bodies with heavy loads to stimulate their nervous systems. Remember, relative strength—to be as strong as possible for your body weight—is the goal.
Everything is linked in the human body; so we need to train our upper bodies the same way we do our legs. This strength not only benefits you when it comes to winning tackles and muscling opponents, but it also improves your acceleration and jumping ability.
High-rep training can be a useful tool on the days we use bodyweight exercises. For example, I’ll have the players perform three sets of Push-Ups to failure. But on a true upper body day, I work up to five one-rep maxes in lifts like the Bench Press, Weighted Chin-Ups or Weighted Dips.
Mark Williams is the founder and owner of Williams Soccer Performance Systems, where he has trained some of the world’s best soccer players.