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Best Strength Exercises For Soccer Players

Best Strength Exercises For Soccer Players

Many people around the world play soccer either for leisure or as a career. To succeed professionally in soccer, you need to make major improvements in your tactical skill, technical proficiency, and physical strength.

The physical demands of soccer require that for soccer players to perform optimally, they would need to have a highly-developed neuromuscular function. With a well-developed neuromuscular function, soccer players can easily accelerate and decelerate faster, complete longer sprints, and defend balls better.

Strength exercises stimulate a significant increase in the level of hypertrophy and strength of athletes in an efficient manner. Most of such training involves drills that cause near-maximal or maximal muscle contractions.

There are many types of strength training strategically designed to improve soccer players’ average performance and endurance capacity. Strength exercises can also help players avoid injuries on the pitch, increase force in heading, tackling, and kicking balls, as well as increase jumping abilities.

If planned correctly, strength training can be carried out throughout the entire season. However, to maintain balance in the body, strength training must be carried out with some endurance training.

The importance of strength exercises comes to play during long seasons when players struggle to stay in form. Also, strength exercises help soccer players to cope with teams that have physically built players.

In this article, we shall be revealing some of the best strength exercises engaged in by professional soccer players—some of which you may already be familiar with.

Best strength exercises for soccer players

Athletic ability and age shouldn’t be much of a hindrance when it comes to engaging in strength exercises because such exercises hold the key to mobility, flexibility, stamina, lower injury risk, and improving your overall performance.

soccer players practicing

These exercises can be carried out by anyone at any fitness level and they don’t require endless hours of practice for the results to be visible. Strength exercises can be easily incorporated into your training routine because they can be done in the comfort of your home or outdoors—whichever suits you.

Some of the strength exercises we will mention below are popular and you might probably know them already. However, the problem may be that you don’t know that they enhance your strength.

These exercises work on a specific set of muscles but they can be combined to achieve a full-body effect.

1. Planks 

The plank exercise is similar to the boat pose but plank involves a static posture that engrosses almost every muscle in the body of a soccer player. It is an exercise that adequately strengthens the core muscles even though it also affects muscles in the lower and upper body.

You can perfect your overall sitting and standing posture if you can perfect the plank posture. Research shows that this exercise can also build confidence aside from building muscle strength.

To do the plank pose, just assume the pushup position. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart and your feet should be slightly over hip-width apart. To avoid hurting your wrist, always do the plank pose with your forearm serving as support for your upper body.

three people are doing plank

Maintain the pose for a couple of minutes before taking a break. When done properly, this exercise strengthens both the lower back muscles and abs simultaneously and can be very good for people with back pain.

The best part of this exercise is that it doesn’t require any equipment to be carried out effectively. It can be done virtually anywhere that seems convenient to you.

It isn’t too late to incorporate this strength exercise into your training routine if you haven’t done that yet.

2. Boat Pose

When doing the boat pose, getting the right posture from the very start makes all the difference. You begin this pose by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and your feet placed flat on the floor.

girl is doing boat pose

Place your hands on the side of your legs with your palm pressing on the floor. Slowly lift your feet off the floor while still keeping your knees bent. 

Do the half boat pose by slowly bringing your shins parallel to the floor. By doing this, your torso will naturally fall back but don’t allow your spine to curve.

Without losing the integrity of your upper body, slowly straighten out your legs to a 45-degree angle to the ground. This is done because your major aim is to keep your torso as erect as possible so that your body can assume a V shape with the help of your legs.

Raise your palms from the ground and keep them suspended beside your legs and paralleled to the ground in a way that your only contact with the ground is your sacrum or tailbone. Push your shoulders back so that your chest is a little bit pushed out. 

Maintain that posture for at least five breaths then relax the legs and exhale deeply. Boat pose develops abdominal muscles, balance, and core strength, as well as works on the deep hip flexors which get weak when you sit down daily for long hours. 

Take note, that this pose isn’t recommended for pregnant soccer players or those with asthma, low blood pressure, diarrhea, back pain, and headache.

How to do Boat Pose | Paripurna Navasana Tutorial with Briohny Smyth

3. Overhead Triceps Extensions

The triceps muscles are often neglected even though they are responsible for controlling the elbows. Their functions in the body are to straighten or extend the elbow and stabilize the shoulder joints. They are also responsible for pulling the arm down from any position.

The overhead triceps extension is a great muscle strength exercise to add to your soccer training routine. You can perform this exercise by using a kettlebell or a dumbbell while sitting or standing.

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Portzon 10 Colors Options Compatible with Set of 2 Neoprene Dumbbell,1-15 LB, Anti-Slip, Anti-roll, Hex Shape
Amazon Basics Cast Iron Kettlebell with Enamel Finish, 15-Pound, Black
Portzon 10 Colors Options Compatible with Set of 2 Neoprene Dumbbell,1-15 LB, Anti-Slip, Anti-roll, Hex Shape
Portzon 10 Colors Options Compatible with Set of 2 Neoprene Dumbbell,1-15 LB, Anti-Slip, Anti-roll, Hex Shape
Amazon Basics Cast Iron Kettlebell with Enamel Finish, 15-Pound, Black
Amazon Basics Cast Iron Kettlebell with Enamel Finish, 15-Pound, Black

Last update on 2023-11-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Start by holding the weight over your head, make sure to firmly grasp the kettlebell or dumbbell with both of your hands before raising them over your head. Begin bending your elbows backward while still firmly holding the weight. Then, lower the weight behind your head as much as you possibly could.

At the lowest point, you can take down the weight at the back of your head, straighten your elbow and lift the weight back over your head. Keep repeating this action and try keeping your movement slow and controlled.

While performing this action, don’t forget to keep your core engaged and your trunk upright to enable the weight to travel down the path of your spine. Always choose a weight that you can easily carry without straining your body.

How to Do a Dumbbell Tricep Extension | Arm Workout

4. Biceps Curl

The biceps curl is a very simple essential strength training for soccer players which can be done both indoors and outdoors. You can achieve this exercise which builds the upper arm strength using a cable machine, resistance bands, a barbell, or dumbbells.

man is doing biceps curl

You can start this exercise by standing with two dumbbells, one in each hand while your elbows rest at your sides. Your forearm should be extended out in front of your body while your knee stays slightly bent and your belly button is drawn into the spine.

Bend your elbow to move the dumbbells up towards your shoulders, when it gets to your shoulders, hold them for a second and squeeze the muscle. Take the dumbbells down slowly and repeat the steps as much as you like.

Starters should endeavor to use lighter weight and maintain a stable body posture without arching the back. Those with a weak lower back should support their back by standing firmly pressed against a wall or seated on a bench.

How to Do a Dumbbell Biceps Curl | Arm Workout

5. Walking Lunges

The walking lunge is a popular strength exercise for soccer players, it is different from the static lunge exercise. The static lunge requires you to stand back upright on one leg in a static position after one rep but the walking lunge requires you to move forward with the other leg after each rep.

You can make this exercise more effective by adding small weights like a medicine ball or dumbbell and also adding a torso twist to it. When done appropriately, this exercise strengthens the leg muscles, hips, glutes, and core.

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We will show you how to perform this exercise using a workout medicine ball which you can freely replace with any other weight like a dumbbell.

Start by standing up straight with your feet kept hip-width apart from each other. Hold a weight like a medicine ball or dumbbell with both hands in front of your midsection to engage your abs.

While your elbows are bent at 90 degrees, take a step forward using your right leg. This will put your weight on your heel. Bend your right knee as your right foot makes contact with the floor and stabilizes. Go low to enable your knee to become parallel to the floor in a lunge position.

Man is doing Walking Lunges

Take a short pause and try staying stable in your lunge position, when stable, hold the medicine ball with both hands and twist your upper body to the right. Make sure the movement originates from your torso.

Reverse your twisted body to the center and start lunging forward with your left leg. Repeat the same set of movements on your left leg as you have done on the right. Accomplish 10 to 12 reps on each leg and do 2 to 3 sets.

Don’t overstretch the leg when lunging forward because it can make your back ache. You can work with a certified trainer if you are new to this exercise.

6. Deadlift

This strength exercise is essential for soccer players because it targets the trapezius, lower back, gluteal, quadriceps, hamstrings, and entire body. While performing the deadlift, you are expected to lift the weight from the floor to your waist level using your hands.

This exercise is recommended for building muscle mass, core strength, stability, as well as your overall strength. While performing this exercise, keep your back straight without arching the shoulders and spine.

man doing deadlifts having bulky body

Start by positioning your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your toes under the bar. Your heels should be kept flat on the floor surface so that when you lift the barbell, it will move close or graze the shins.

When lifting the weight, your head should assume a neutral spine position although a little upward tilt is expected. You can stabilize your abdominal muscles by bracing them. Keeping your back arched or straight, bend by the waist and firmly grasp the barbell with both hands.

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Lift the barbell from the ground by pushing your body upwards with support from your legs and knees. The barbell might graze your shins while being lifted but it should rest around your thigh level after attaining full height. Without bending backward, pull your shoulder backward as much as you can.

Steadily lower the bar to the floor using a reverse motion which ensures a straight back. Do a repetition of all the actions as much as you desire. Always start with a lighter weight and make sure to halt the exercise if you start feeling any kind of pain.

Deadlift | How To Do A Deadlift, Benefits & Muscles Worked

7. Squats

The squat is a staple workout in many workout routines amongst athletes like soccer players. It is a good exercise for strengthening the core and leg muscles. It can be done with training equipment if you want it to be more challenging and effective.

To do the basic squats, start by planting your feet on the ground while keeping them shoulder-width wide then straighten your back. Position your feet slightly outwards, taking the 10 and 2 o’clock marks.

Man is doing squats

Bend your knees and act like someone about to sit in a chair while keeping your heels planted on the ground. Keep your back straight in a neutral position and suck in your abs throughout the exercise.

Gradually lower your body in a controlled manner, and push your hips backward while descending. Keep your heels on the ground and your shin vertical while descending as low as possible.

After going down as low as possible, spring up off your heels and slowly rise while maintaining your balance. Always extend your arms forward while performing this exercise.

It helps greatly with balance. It also helps in keeping your shin vertical while you squat. Beginners can do as much as 10 reps while professional soccer players can achieve up to 15 to 30 reps in 3 sets. Rest between each set.

Bowflex® How-To | Squats for Beginners

8. Glute Bridge

The glutes can become underactive after long hours of sitting on the bench during soccer matches, this is where this strength exercise comes to the rescue. When the glutes aren’t properly worked on, a soccer player can develop abnormal walking patterns, tightness, and back pain.

Incorporating the glute bridge exercise into your workout routine can build your core stability and activate the glutes. It is a very easy exercise to do and requires no equipment.

Man is doing Glute Bridge 

The first thing you should do when engaging in this exercise is to lay down on your back while bending your knees and placing your feet flat on the ground. Keep your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointing straight ahead.

Your heels must be kept about 6-8 inches from your glutes. Properly position your arms by your sides and keep your palms facing the ceiling. Start lifting your hips upwards but while doing that, squeeze your glutes and abs.

Without arching your back, raise your hips as high as you possibly can. Your aim should be to raise your hips until your body attains a straight line from your knee to the hip and shoulder. While in that position, squeeze your glutes tightly for about two seconds.

As you lower down, slowly lower your hips to the floor while maintaining tension in the abs and glutes. Adding weight while performing the glute bridge makes it a more effective strength exercise.

How to do the perfect GLUTE BRIDGE: technique and common mistakes

9. Push-ups

Push-ups are very common strength exercises that can be effortlessly done by soccer players. It can be done in many creative ways depending on your intention and preferences. This exercise helps in building both your core strength and upper body.

Man is doing push ups

You can do push-ups as part of a circuit training workout, bodyweight exercise session, or strength workout. When done properly, push-ups can build the muscles in your chest and shoulders.

To do push-ups, slowly get down on your fours like you see military people do. Place your hands a bit wider than your shoulders then straighten your arms and legs. Lower your body with your arms until your chest nears the floor.

Try pushing yourself back up using your hands to return to your initial position. Repeat the steps as much as you can. The faster it takes you to accomplish one rep, the more challenging this exercise gets.

How To Do A Push-Up | The Right Way | Well+Good

10. Pull-ups

Pull-up is among the most difficult strength exercises because it requires advanced training and strength to pull off successfully. Soccer players can master this exercise by working their way up slowly until they can adequately engage in it without any difficulty.

Man is doing pull ups

If you can put in the time, strength, and required level of consistency regardless of your current fitness level, you can master this exercise in no time. This exercise is essential because it works on the back muscles, and improves core stability, posture, and grip strength.

You can start your pull-up by placing your hands apart a bit wider than your shoulder width on a horizontal bar hanging firmly over your head. Firmly wrap your fingers around the bar with your clenched palms facing forward.

Stick your chest out with your back curved slightly then try pulling yourself up above the height of the bar using your arms until the bar gets to your chest level, breath out and descend slowly.

Repeat the steps as many times as you possibly can. Try increasing your previous number of reps at each try.

The Perfect Pull Up - Do it right!


While engaging in the above-discussed strength exercises, always remember to start with a proper warm-up as advised by certified training experts. Most people start exercises without properly preparing their body with the right warm-up.

If you are guilty of this practice, it is time to turn a new leaf because it can lead to injuries. Cold muscles are more prone to injuries than warm muscles—hence the need for a proper warmup before diving into your routine exercise.

Always mix up your training routines to avoid building only one set of muscles instead of your entire body. You can increase the number of reps and add weight to some of the exercises if you can’t think of new exercises to practice.

To see results, you must be consistent with your exercises. Results don’t appear overnight, sometimes they take months to become visible but the fact remains that if you are consistent enough, you must see results.