The answer to this question is a categorical YES, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. As a current collegiate soccer player I feel I have gained the sufficient knowledge to write this article through years of experience from playing both at the collegiate level here in the US and playing for clubs back home in my native country the UK.
If I could give any aspiring, or current soccer payer any advice in order for him/her to take their game to the next level it would be “get in the gym”. Not only will it help you to become bigger, stronger, faster, and an overall better athlete it will improve your confidence both on and off the field as well as reducing your injury proneness. However, the problem is many don’t know what to do once there in the gym, well that’s why I’m here writing this right now. Many have misconceptions about the gym, and when they hear the word “gym” see nothing but a room full of 6ft 5in muscle packed men roaming around throwing cast iron weights around. But this couldn’t be more wrong, in today’s society the fitness world has become the “in thing” to do, and this is clear from looking in many gyms up and down the country that are filled with people from all different backgrounds, young and old, and varies shapes and sizes. So don’t be scared to get in the gym, I promise it will be one of the best things you do for yourself and for your performance not just in soccer but also in any sport.
Just take a look at the physiques of one of the best players in the world right now, and arguably one of the greatest to ever play the game; Cristiano Ronaldo. If you look back to when he first burst on the scene with Manchester United he was a scrawny 17-year-old kid, but as time progressed his physique improved, as did his performances. This was not genetics or luck, this was a testament of Cristiano’s work ethic in the gym after training had finished, when every one had headed home he was in the gym working hard to better himself and it more than paid off!
As the legs are the most frequently used muscles in the game of soccer these are the muscles you want to put the most emphasis on when in the gym. However, there are many muscles that make up the anatomy of ones lower body:
- Gluteus Maximus “glutes”
As well as these there are other smaller muscles, however these are the main muscles that if worked correctly in the gym will help to improve your performance and reduce injuries. An example workout would be as follows:
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 5 14,12,10,8,6
Leg Press 3 16,14,12
Weighted Lunges 3 14,12,10 (e/leg)
Hamstring Curl 3 12,10,10 (e/leg)
Standing Calf Raises 3 12,10,8
Seated Calf Raises 3 16,14,12
There is no doubt that the lower body is used the most during a game of soccer, however many fail to realize the importance of a strong upper body in soccer. At the end of the day soccer is in fact a contact sport, which means we must have both a strong lower and upper body. There are many actions that require a strong upper body in soccer; holding off an opponent, shielding the ball, jostling with an opponent in the air, and tackling an opponent off the ball. All these require ones upper body to be at a strong enough level in order for one to perform to the best they can.
However, just like the lower body the upper body consists of many different muscles:
- Arms (Biceps & Triceps)
These are the primary muscles that make up the anatomy of the upper body and just like the lower body training these muscles efficiently and effectively will help to give you the best chance of success in soccer.
An example workout would be as follows:
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 5 14,12,10,8,6
Pull Ups 3 AMAP (As many as possible)
Bent Over Row 3 12,10,8
Military Press 3 12,10,8
Lateral Raise 3 14,12,10
Bicep Curl 3 12,10,8
Tricep Dips 3 AMAP
I assure you that if you dedicate time to the gym, you will notice considerable improvements in your performances. In order to play at a competitive level of soccer one must be physically adept not just technically, and there is no better way than getting in the gym and lifting weights!