Here’s a question that’s on many soccer player’s minds:
Should soccer players train for strength?
The short answer is yes. And the reason is, strength is the precursor for power. Power is responsible for every athletic movement you perform on the field is. Whether you’re shooting the ball, sprinting past defenders, dribbling down the field, or heading the ball in the net, you need strength to perform all of these feats.
However, many soccer players get stuck when they begin strength training. This is mostly because they stick to powerlifting methods to develop strength. Powerlifting methods can definitely help you get stronger, but they won’t help you develop strength that translates to power.
And that’s why I’m writing you, to show you how to build strength that will transfer to your soccer performance on the field.
Let’s jump into strength training for soccer players:
The Two Types Of Strength
There are two types of strength a soccer player needs to develop to be successful.
The first type of strength is relative strength, or the amount of force they can output relative to their bodyweight. Someone who can do 30 pull-ups has a high relative strength.
The second type of strength is absolute strength. This is the amount of force you can output regardless of your bodyweight. Someone who weighs 300 pounds, but squats 600 pounds has high absolute strength.
Both of these types of strength are absolutely critical to soccer success. Stability, kinesthetic awareness, and coordination come along with relative strength. It’s also worth noting that the higher your relative strength is, the more powerful you’ll most likely become.
Of course, you won’t be a great soccer player without the ability to exert high amounts of force. That’s where absolute strength training comes in. But, once we hit a certain level of strength, the goal is to move that strength down the force-velocity curve, or turn that force into power.
The Goal Of Strength Training For Soccer Players
As I said above, the goal of your strength training is turning that strength into power. Strength is the precursor to power, as power is equal to force (maximum strength output) times velocity (the speed at which you move an object).
I’ve acquired a bunch of methods to develop athletic strength, or strength that can be translated into power. And I’m going to share three of them with you today.
3 Ways To Develop Athletic Strength
1. Triphasic Training
Triphasic training may be my favorite training method I’ve ever come across. It’s versatile, effective, and great for all levels.
I’ve used it to increase my vertical jump by 12 inches. I’ve used it with players preparing for their NFL Draft
The basis of Triphasic training is using tempos to emphasize each portion of movement. If you look at a squat, there’s an eccentric phase where you’re lowering towards the ground, there’s an isometric phase, which is the time between the lowering and raising, then there’s the concentric phase, which is getting out of the hole.
Emphasizing each portion of movement comes with its own unique benefits.
For example, emphasizing the eccentric phase allows you to bypass GTO inhibition. GTO inhibition occurs when the Golgi Tendon Organs inhibit the force of a muscle contraction. This is to prevent damage to the muscle, but GTO inhibition is overactive. It kicks in at only 60% of what a muscle can handle.
Using eccentric tempos can help you bypass this mechanism and produce more force.
Isometric training also comes with a big dose of benefits. Mainly, isometric training increases motor unit recruitment, or the amount of motor units you use with your movements. This can help with your explosiveness and the overall amount of force you can produce in your movement.
I could go on and on about about the benefits of Triphasic Training.
But for now, just know it can have a HUGE impact on your athleticism and your performance on the soccer field.
2. Accommodating Resistance
One of my favorite weight training methods to develop power is accommodating resistance. Accommodating Resistance is filling in the gaps of lesser resistance with a band or chains to increase the velocity at which the athlete must perform a movement.
In other words, if you think of a squat or a bench press, there are certain portions of the movement where it’s easier to move the weight. In a squat and bench press, as you get closer to lockout, the weight is easier to move. When this happens, the athlete usually decelerates the speed at which he was using the bar.
Adding chains and bands prevents the deceleration. And it forces the athlete accelerate through the entire movement. This ultimately forces the athlete to move the bar faster than they would without the accommodating resistance.
Again, this is one of my favorite ways to build athletic strength.
You can use it in conjunction with squats and bench press and see your power shoot up.
3. Contrast Training
Contrast training is another great method for soccer players to transfer strength into power.
Many people compare contrast training to picking up a bucket you thought was full. Your nervous system is heightened and prepared to lift a heavy bucket, but it’s empty, so you lift that empty bucket with more force than you would have if you knew it was empty.
We’re going to recreate this scenario with weights.
Contrast training is, at its core, performing a heavily resisted movement followed by an explosive movement. An example of this could be a squat followed by a box jump.
The nervous system is heightened by the weighted movement, so when you go to perform that plyometric movement, you perform it with more overall explosiveness than you would just going in raw.
There’s a more scientific explanation for this.
But, for now, just know that contrast training is a powerful tool to translate strength into power you can use on the field.
Strength Training Parameters For Soccer Players
When it comes to strength training for any sport, I like to keep things simple.
I don’t like to be glued to certain percentages, or have specific expectations of how heavy I’m going to lift on a particular training day. I like to introduce general guidelines that will give the athlete room to improve.
It’s the same when it comes to strength training for soccer.
Week one, I usually have my athletes perform 5 sets of 4 reps, building up to a heavy set of five.
When week two rolls around, I have my athletes perform 5 sets of 3 reps. The idea is to build up to a heavier weight than they did the week before.
Then, in week three, I have my athletes perform 5 sets of 2 reps. Again, the idea is to build up heavier weight than they did the previous week.
After three weeks of progression, we deload.
This is a simple approach, and things can get more intricate based on a player’s particular circumstances, strengths, and weakness.
Soccer Strength Training Decoded
Putting together all of these pieces can be confusing for an athlete.
And I recommend athletes spend less time trying to master programming, and spend more time developing their physical performance.
That’s why I want to give you an exclusive blog-reader discount on my NEW Soccer Performance System.
The Soccer Performance System contains everything you need to enhance your physical performance:
- Speed mechanics drills
- Agility training
- Acceleration work
- Strength Training
- Power Training
- Core Exercises
And much more.