To become a successful soccer player, training is crucial. It is one thing to be able to get the skill training down on the pitch, but being in great shape also pays off. The only way to do that is to spend time in the gym.
This is a look at some of the best gym workouts for soccer players out there right now. Those who take their training seriously will have that slight edge over other players who can’t quite keep up. It could be the difference between making the team and not at a certain level, or turning a solid career into professional opportunities for that matter.
1. Single Leg Squats
There is a lot of sprinting in soccer, and that means powerful legs are essential. Whenever a person starts to sprint, they are pushing off on one leg and looking for that extra bit of explosion from the beginning.
Single leg squats allow for a specific focus on the legs when sprinting. It certainly helps to do standard squats as well, but doing these with bodyweight or a bit of added weight can prove to be beneficial for all types of players out there a different skill levels.
This is another explosion-based workout that can help develop muscles needed for sprinting and jumping around the field. People might start with step-ups without any weight, but adding some dumbbells in each hand can provide a whole new challenge.
The step itself does not need to be anything too high, as most people are looking for a height of a typical bench. Simply grab a bench in a gym and alternate legs when it comes to doing the step-ups. Try to hold each step up for a second or two to maximize the feel of everything.
Doing side step-ups, later on, can help as well, but make sure that the height is not too much. People will not be able to clear quite the same height from the side, so do not try to be a hero and end up falling.
3. Interval Running Training
You might think of soccer matches initially as a bunch of running around for 90 minutes, but players do plenty of standing and walking as well. To train the body for this type of action, it makes sense to interval training when working on running.
Players must learn how to sprint, and then recover from those sprints quickly. Endurance is big for soccer players, but so is power, explosion, and repeating the process multiple times a match.
For interval training, focus on all-out sprints for short amounts of time. Allow for a set amount of rest between each sprint. Players will start to feel the pain, but it eventually fades.
4. Front & Side Pillars
Nothing helps make the core stronger in an athlete than doing something as simple as planks and pillars. A front pillar is pretty straightforward, as a person lays down on the floor with their stomach facing down. Get into the plank position, and then hold that for a set amount of time for different reps. Soccer players need a solid core to keep balance and move around the pitch in a very efficient manner.
Side pillars might be a little harder for people to get used to it first, but it is the same concept only leaning to each side. This is to target some of the smaller muscles in the core that might get overlooked at times.
Those who love doing bodyweight exercises are once again in luck. For an added challenge, add a little bit of additional weight as well. Just make sure to pace everything in the beginning, because pillars are something that zaps a lot of energy out of people more than they realize.
5. Lunges (Multiple Directions)
Lunges are a great way to build strength in the legs, and that makes for a quicker and more powerful soccer player on the pitch. It also helps with a bit of flexibility, which is never a bad thing in any sport out there. There are traditional lunges that most people know how to do, but doing lunges in multiple directions can give a full workout in the gym for soccer players.
Start with a simple lunge straightforward, and then return to the starting position with the first rep. Next, do a lunge to the leg side, and make sure to keep the chest in the head facing forward the entire time as well. Finally, take a step backwards into a reverse lunge position, and really start to work all the different muscles in the legs to strengthen them overall.
Keep in mind that most people will feel pretty sore the first time they do these, simply because they are not used to some of the more unique movements. If a person becomes more familiar with this type of training, they can eventually do these lunges with a little bit of weight as well.
6. Nordic Hamstring Falls
Strong hamstrings are a must for soccer players, as they put a lot of stress on them every single time they take the pitch. To get the hamstrings strong, flexible, and injury-free, Nordic hamstring falls a couple of times a week can help out quite a bit.
The drill is fairly easy to remember once a person gets the right technique down. To begin, start with the knees facing down, and the back straight up while on the ground. Fall forward using the hamstring muscles in a controlled sense, and go as long as possible before ultimately using the arms to catch. It is a very controlled fall.
This can turn into a bit of an arm exercise as well if a person pushes themselves off quickly once they hit the ground. It also makes a lot of sense to go quickly to prevent any type of cramping or soreness in the hamstrings.
Not too many reps of these are needed to really feel the exercise overall. Bodyweight should be just fine, so the exercise can be done at home if it does not fit into the routine at the gym. There are not too many great exercises that target the hamstrings specifically, but it is one of the most important parts of the body for any soccer player.
7. Jump Rope
Jumping rope might seem simple enough, but there is a reason why pro soccer players do these drills regularly to stay in great overall shape. Not only does it help with endurance, but it speeds up the feet and can even build a little bit of muscle for those looking to use weighted options.
Jumping rope is much more of a challenge than people realize, especially if they have not jumped into this workout since they were a child. Keeping it very light and speedy is great for an in-season workout, but switching it out to a heavier rope can provide a great challenge for those looking to be a little stronger in the off-season.
Try to jump rope on a softer surface if at all possible. Doing jump rope on an unforgiving surface like cement can put some unwanted wear and tear on the body.
8. Ladder Drills
Soccer players need all sorts of speed, balance, and proper footwork to excel on the pitch. Ladder drills translate very well to soccer, and it would be silly to overlook what they bring to the table.
Start with ladder shuffles, moving the feet in and out of each square while moving up through the ladder. There are different types of techniques a person could use with a ladder, but it makes sense to focus on moves that are very soccer-based. There are too many people who try to do all these crazy movements with the ladder, only to make things more complicated than they need to be. Get a few ladder drills that really feel great, and stick with them.
Is there a reason to focus on what is mostly an upper body workout? Pull-ups are definitely going to make the arms stronger, but they are great for endurance training if down the right way as well. In particular, burpee pull-ups are very popular with soccer players, as they can increase the heart rate and simulate sprinting in an actual match.
With a burpee pull-up, a person starts in a squat position on the ground, and they kick the feet back to go into a push-up. They then jump back into the squat position, right before jumping up to grab the pull-up bar. Once they are on the bar, they do a chin up, and then drop down to repeat the process.
Think of this as a great full-body workout that will help with strength and endurance. Athletes can build up the number of pull-ups they do and get to a level that they feel very comfortable with overall.
People may initially think of deadlifts as something for powerlifters, but trap bar deadlifts are great for soccer players. A trap bar makes lifting a little easier on the lower back, and that is always a good thing for soccer players who are putting their body through so much stress anyway. The spine and back will feel a lot better without having to deal with any added pressure.
There is no reason to max out on deadlift as a soccer player, but going for a weight that can easily work for 8-10 reps at a time makes a lot more sense.
11. Kettlebell Swings
The final exercise to make this list is a great one that works out most of the upper body. From the core to the shoulders, kettlebell swings can really help a soccer athlete work on some explosive power movements. Having upper body strength might not seem like that big of a deal on soccer, but the more physical the game becomes, the more critical it is to have some power above the waist.
Kettlebell swings also help below the waist, as people feel some soreness in the glutes and hamstrings if they use enough weight. This is great to help build a little bit of muscle in those areas.
Scheduling Gym Workouts As a Soccer Player
Soccer is too grueling of a sport for players to hit the gym regularly during the season. Most are going to move to a lot of maintenance work, and that is when bodyweight exercises come in handy. Most of these exercises not only help with strength and endurance, but they can also help with flexibility.
Save some of the heavier weights for offseason training, and also step up the number of times going to the gym. A few days a week makes sense during the season, but four or five days a week is perfectly fine in the offseason.
Remember to work different body parts on those days to prevent injury. Everyone has certain parts of the body that they are looking to work on more than others, but too much work can do a lot more damage than good.