Weight Training for Soccer Players

by Philip MacDonald | Last updated

More often than ever before soccer athletes are incorporating weight training as part of their overall training program to become the best soccer player they can be.  There are countless exercise routines that soccer players can use.  What is important to address is that a weight training program should not remain the same throughout the entire year.  There will be different recommended sets and weight based on off-season, pre-season or mid-season training. 

The ideal soccer physique is a lean, strong athlete who has incredible endurance and has quick reaction time.  They have a good jumping ability and can shield off at least one player at a time if the situation arises (which it likely will in the game of soccer).

Body fat percentage for your top professional soccer player is typically below 10%.  Body weight ranges from 140lbs to 220lbs depending on your height and playing position.  It is important for players to have the necessary strength yet not be too bulky which will only work against their performance on the field.  You want to be strong yet fast and be able to run the full 90 minutes without any trouble.

Repetitions for Weight Lifting

1-4 repetitions = strength training

4-7 repetitions = strength & a bit of size

7-12 repetitions = size

13 – 15 + repetitions = endurance

“Leap-frogging” is a technique used during the off-season and pre-season where for one month the player does strength training and then for the next month will do strength and size training.  On the third month the player returns to strength training.  By doing this the player will gain a bit of size in strength and muscle yet not become bulky.   This can also be broken down to weekly training.  By continually changing the routine the body is constantly being challenged and each muscle groups will be worked a different way.

There are countless variations to this method; however, like all exercises variety is essential to maximizing strength in all part of the body.

For upper body I recommend on one day to work out the byceps, shoulders and back.  The following day workout the try-ceps and chest.  And finally workout the legs and abs.  After weight training muscles require at least 48 hours of rest. Be sure to work out your muscles to the max.

Soccer players need to build up their leg strength so that they are strong on the ball. One of the best ways to do this is called ply-ometric training.  This is where you have a bench or table in front of you and with one foot on the ground and the other on the table you jump as high as you can.  You can do variations of this by doing twelve jumps on a each leg and then twenty-four jumps where you are interchanging legs in mid air.

It is important to provide rest for the body.  The idea for soccer players is you want to exert your body to the max when training but also provide the necessary rest it needs in order to train in full the next training session.  Over training simply leads to exhaustion and will result in poor performance and even put you at risk of injury due to fatigue.

If you are training three to five days a week then it is best to do the strength training followed immediately by speed training.  Training your legs to run fast when they have been worked hard will best prepare them for game time scenarios.  The idea is you want to train as hard if not harder than the way you play so that when game time arrives this is nothing new.  By simply being in the best shape you will eliminate many errors and bring the best out of yourself as an athlete.

It is a myth that professional soccer players train four times a day or are constantly in the gym or on the field.  They generally train once a day, sometimes twice but it is always broken up into a soccer session through drills and exercises as team and tactical scenarios whereas the second would be a weight training session.

There are hundreds of weight training routines available and they can be broken down into pre-season, mid-season and post season training.  This blog in particular gives an introduction and some guidance in order to get started.

What sort of weight training does your coach have you do?

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