Strength Training: for Soccer
Elite soccer players are some of the world’s best athletes. But even if you’re just playing in a local pickup league, you’ll need to be ready when the opportunity knocks. Strength training is an effective way to separate yourself from fellow athletes. We’ve put together a beginner’s guide to soccer strength training that includes our favorite exercises and why you should do them.
Do Soccer Players Need Strength Training?
It’s easy to overlook strength training in your soccer regimen. After all, you may think, why do I need it in a sport that’s about speed, endurance and agility? And isn’t building muscle going to slow me down?
The reality is that a strength regimen is important for every athlete – and soccer is no exception. Multiple studies show there are benefits to strength training in soccer, including:
- Better balance and stability.
- More explosiveness and power for shots, headers, changing direction and other skills.
- Faster metabolism to burn fat and create a leaner physique.
- Increased endurance thanks to better overall fitness.
- Better physicality against challenges and tackles.
- Lower injury risk and faster recovery.
How Much to Strength Train for Soccer
According to research, two days a week of soccer strength training in-season is enough to improve power and force, while once a week will maintain your current strength levels. For a soccer player, the entire body is important. While the legs are clearly vital with so much running, you’ll also need to work your core, glutes and hips. Upper body strength is also a must for holding your position and shielding the ball from opponents. Just don’t forget about your rest days – they’re key to recovery and strength building.
Best Soccer Strength Training Exercises
Here are the eight strength exercises for soccer players we recommend. Aim to do two sets of 10-15 reps for each exercise.
- Deadlifts – When done correctly, the deadlift activates almost every muscle group that you use for power during a soccer game.
- Goblet Squats – This body squat adds extra resistance in the form of a dumbbell or kettlebell to work your core, hamstrings, quads and other muscle groups.
- Weighted Step-Ups – If you have a box or stable bench, this exercise is a great way to build lower body strength and improve muscle stability.
- Kettlebell Swings – The swings work your hamstrings, back, hips and shoulders while developing muscle explosiveness.
- Dumbbell Floor Press – A variation on the bench press that doesn’t require a workbench, this exercise builds the chest and triceps for when things get physical.
- Planks & Push-Ups – These bodyweight exercises are great for the core and upper body, and there are many ways to make them more challenging as you progress.
- Medicine Ball Squat-Slams – A full-body exercise where you throw a medicine ball down as you squat. It’s effective and fun!
- Dumbbell Lateral Lunges – They build leg mobility, flexibility and joint stability while also working the lower back and obliques.