For a professional soccer player to perform at his maximum potential a strong well conditioned body is a must. In particular there is a large emphasis on strength training leg exercises aimed to strengthen their lower bodies resulting in some seriously muscular soccer legs. Players who have been able to achieve a high level of lower body strength are known for their improved skill in kicking, tackling, jumping over obstacles, turning and twisting their bodies to create a foundation for an explosive performance. Along with extensive lower body training a strong upper body is needed to shield opposing players from the ball, execute throw-ins and holding off their opponents to resist any challenges not to mention a high level of endurance both anaerobic and aerobic to play for the entire duration of the game.
Players who have opted to train using a similar technique to the traditional bodybuilder have often found themselves at a severe disadvantage. Notably athletes such as powerlifters and even bodybuilders as a general principle have been known to customarily base their strength training routine to increase their maximum strength, their muscle build and their overall size without giving any significant consideration towards their aerobic endurance levels, flexibility or even their agility.
The professional soccer player contrary to some beliefs does not need to possess the complete strength as often seen in American Football or Rugby players. However a well defined weight training program will undoubtedly improve the overall performance. Respective to the sport, relative strength which is simply your absolute strength proportional to your current body weight is vital to the performance of the player and as such an effective weight training workout will mostly consist of a number of compound and functional exercises including chin-ups, push-ups, lunges, step-ups, squats, and dips while maintaining a balanced training for opposing muscle groups such as hamstrings verses quadriceps. Although somewhat helpful, a soccer legs workout should not focus solely on the use of exercise machines or other exercises such as leg extensions. Rather, the workout should employ a balanced set of ground-based exercises utilizing the total body weight of the athlete training as an additional form of free weight and resistance.
Smith Squat – Squats Predominantly targeting the gluteus, the squat is effectively used to work the forefoot and heel by way of the pressure of the weight impacted. The exercise when used within the soccer legs workout should be performed on a support frame such as a Smith Squat to ensure the proper technique of maintaining a straight back and proper motion of the exercise.
▪ To begin, position the barbell behind your back, on top of your shoulders. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Then return to the start position and repeat for the required number of reps.
Barbell Lunge – The Barbell Lunge is an effective exercise used for targeting the gluteus with a long lunge and for stressing the quadriceps with a short lunge.
▪ Begin the exercise by positioning the barbell on your shoulders just behind your neck. Using either your right or left leg execute a lunge forward lowering your body towards the floor by bending the knee of the leg positioned behind while maintaining your back straight. Return to the start position and repeat the motion with the other leg.
Below is a simple workout which includes a number of exercises primarily used by many world class soccer players today such as Christiano Renaldo to develop their strong legs, speed, agility explosive power and stamina.
The Soccer Legs Workout:
Back Squat-Increase your lower body strength and power Complete 5-8 reps using 5 sets Rest for 90 seconds.
Sprints-Develop your Explosive Speed on the pitch or on the treadmill. Do forward sprinting, side to side (lateral) and backwards. Complete 5-10 reps using 5 sets Rest for 90 seconds.
The Agility Ladder-Improves your control and builds your quads and hipflexors. Complete 5-6 rounds Rest for 90 Seconds.
Calf Raises-Builds the lower leg calf muscles to prevent shin splits. Complete 10-12 reps using 3 sets Rest for 1 minute.
Handstand Push-ups- Used to build upper body strength and balance. Complete the 10-12 reps using 5 sets Rest for 60 seconds.