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Can You Be Muscular And Play Soccer?

Can You Be Muscular And Play Soccer?

When you talk about height, soccer players don’t level up to basketball players. In terms of muscular build, soccer players trail behind American football players. This also goes a long way to show how accommodating soccer can be compared to other sports.

Key Takeaways

  • It is possible to be muscular and play soccer as long as it doesn’t impede your speed and flexibility
  • Soccer players undergo routine muscular training to build specific muscles in their body
  • Being muscular has its advantages in soccer especially shielding the ball from the opponents
  • Well-developed leg muscles can increase your jumping, sprinting, and kicking power

Adama Traore use his shoulder to shield the ball

Soccer players have emerged in the course of history that had the build of American football players. Other players like Adama Traore and Michail Antonio started playing the game looking skinny but gained considerable muscle mass after a few years.

So, it is possible to be muscular and play soccer. In fact, some of the muscular soccer players that have graced the pitch like Adebayo Akinfenwa and Givanildo Vieira de Souza (Hulk) did not perform badly during the peak of their careers.

Unlike wrestling and boxing where the emphasis is on physical strength and the strongest man or woman wins, soccer is a game of wits. The Laws of the Game are extensive and discourage soccer players from turning the game into physical combat.

Over the years, the game of soccer is becoming increasingly physical. Therefore, more soccer players are incorporating muscular training into their daily routine in an attempt to bulk up.

This has left many soccer enthusiasts wondering if it is OK for soccer players to be muscular. While some soccer fans focus on the disadvantages of being muscular as a soccer player, others choose to see the advantages of doing so.

While many people visit the gym regularly to build muscle mass, others inherited that body structure from their parents or through their diet. Are you one of the young soccer players asking if you will get any benefits from bulking up?

Perhaps, you have already garnered huge muscle mass before suddenly discovering that you want to be a soccer player. Here is what we think about your chances of becoming successful.

Soccer player in the locker room at the half time

Why are most soccer players not muscular?

If you take a snapshot of most soccer teams, only a handful of players will really stand out for their ripping muscles. The majority of the players will have an average build.

The reason why most soccer players don’t strive to build their muscles is that they don’t think that it offers them any real advantage over their opponents. In fact, there is a general belief that the more upper body muscles you build, the slower you will become.

However, soccer players like Adama Traore have defied that idea. Notwithstanding his huge muscle mass, Traore has a speed of 36.6 km/h which puts him in the top 10 spot when talking about the fastest soccer players.

Adaman Traore try to escape from the takle of the opponent in soccer 2

Most soccer players only focus on building leg muscles because it helps them to power their runs, kicks, and jumps. But does that mean that a muscular upper body doesn’t have any benefit in soccer? Definitely not!

Soccer players often invest in building their core muscles (the muscles around the abdomen) because it helps to improve stamina as well as keep the body balanced. Investing in muscular training is beneficial to soccer players regardless of the position they play.

Can being muscular be beneficial to a soccer player?

A 2015 study led by Joao R Silva and published in the National Library of Medicine revealed that soccer players need strength training to improve their performance, especially in running, a swift change of direction, and jumping.

While the use of the arms is not allowed in soccer, players can still use their upper body to shield their opponent from getting close to the ball. Also, during a duel for a loose ball, soccer players can use their upper body to gain an advantage over the ball.

All outfield players can benefit from muscle training, regardless of the position they play. Defenders need to be built in the upper part of their body to muscle their opponent off the ball during a duel.

Attackers need muscles to literally fight their way through a packed defensive line. One striker that makes use of his upper build during games is Romelu Lukaku—and he has scored some great goals by muscling his way through the defensive line.

Building upper body muscles can also come in handy for longer throw-ins. Players often need to throw the ball far into the 18-yard box to create goalscoring opportunities. A stronger upper body gives them the advantage

Of all the players on the pitch, only the goalies don’t need to be muscular. Nevertheless, they still need strong legs for higher jumps and farther kicks as well as strong hands for stronger punches and parries.

Inasmuch as muscular training can be beneficial to soccer players, not every muscle in your body deserves equal attention. To boost your performance as a soccer player, there are key muscles that you need to build.

Ronaldo is cheering the goal

Leg muscles

Regardless of your build as a soccer player, without strong leg muscles, you will be most likely unable to level up with your peers on the soccer pitch. If you have the opportunity to build just one muscle in your body, make sure you choose your leg muscles—that is to show you how important it is.

Strong leg muscles will enhance your stamina as well as power you through the entire 90 minutes of the game. Running around and changing direction on the soccer pitch will task several leg muscles.

Both the goalie and the outfield players need strong leg muscles for stronger kicks. Players who kick the hardest are usually those with really strong leg muscles.

However, activities like kicking and jumping will require more muscular power to achieve. Therefore, you need to work on your calf muscles, your quads, and your hamstrings.

Since most soccer activities are carried out using the feet, having strong leg muscles also makes you more resistant to injuries. Soccer players with weaker leg muscles will spend most of their soccer career on the hospital bed rather than on the pitch.

Therefore, most soccer teams will usually include exercises that focus on building leg muscles in their routine. Exercises like lunges, squats, sprinting, and long-distance runs are great for building leg muscles.


When you set out to build your leg muscles, it helps to bear in mind that you will only start seeing results after a period of time. Leg muscles can take a long time to build, particularly the calve muscles.

Hip and glute muscles

While building your leg muscles, don’t forget to build your hip and glute muscles too. The hip is where the legs join to the upper part of the body.

Strong hip and glute muscles offer explosive strength to soccer players which can help them power past their opponents. Strong hip and glute muscles work with strong leg muscles to increase the speed and kicking power of the soccer player.

Also, stronger hip and glute muscles can significantly reduce the risk of injuries when soccer players clash on the pitch. Exercises like deadlifts, side lunges, forward cone jumps, and step-ups work on the hip and glute muscles to make them stronger.

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Soccer player are in the training course

Core muscles

If you focus on building your upper body muscles and neglect your leg and hip muscles, you will lose your stamina. Therefore, if you must build upper body muscles, make sure the focus is on your core muscles.

The transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, lower back muscles, the multifidus, and the rectus abdominis (popularly called six-packs) together make up the core muscles.

With stronger core muscles, your kick will be stronger and your running stride will be longer. It can also increase the distance of your throws when restarting the game through throw-ins.

Bridges, crunches, plank variations, and sit-ups are great exercises that work on the core muscles. It is important to mention that having strong muscles alone may not offer you the optimal strength that you need as a soccer player.

Work on developing stronger shoulders, triceps, and biceps to be an all-round player. You need the full cooperation of your upper body muscles when receiving an aerial ball or shielding the ball from an opponent.

Triceps extension, bicep curls, pull-ups, and pushups are important exercises that can help you to build the muscles of your biceps, triceps, and shoulders.

Man is doing push ups

When building your upper body muscles, resist the temptation to become so addicted to deadlifts that you become bulked up like Bobby Lashley. Muscle mass that size will definitely affect your speed and make you less flexible.

Sometimes in soccer, all you need are quick feet and a flexible upper body to execute tricks like shoulder drops to easily trick and get behind your opponent.

Neck muscles

You will rarely hear soccer players talk about strengthening their neck muscles. However, it is an essential muscle that when you build can help you to score goals through headings.

Headings need strong neck muscles for you to properly direct the ball and give it enough velocity to evade the goalie. Cristiano Ronaldo once made headlines for leaping at an impossible height to head the ball into the net.

Neck stretch, neck turn, side-to-side neck tilt, and neck tilt are all important exercises that will help you to build your neck muscles.

Bear in mind that too thick neck muscles will also make your neck stiffer which will make it harder for you to direct balls to the part of the net that you want during heading.

Messi are trying to escape from the defenders

Before you go

So, you can be muscular and still be a great soccer player. Building muscles in the right places at the right amount will actually increase your stamina and help you to stand your ground when shoved by an opponent player.

Regardless of the position you play, you need to include muscle training in your routine because you will need it to run, jump, or kick better. With tailored strength training, you will build the right physique that will help you to perform at the highest levels in the game.

However, being too muscular can also be restrictive. It can rob your speed and flexibility which are two critical skills in soccer today.

As long as you put on your best performance and help your team to win games, fans will rarely notice the size of your muscles on the pitch.