Powerize Your Game: Lifting for Soccer


“The key to becoming a great soccer player alongside peak physical fitness is mental strength. Often the last 10 minutes of a soccer match can be the most decisive, and also where the most mistakes happen. UK Elite believe that CrossFit is ideal for improving mental toughness or putting you in “the red zone” as it continually demands you to perform even when tired. They state that this will match the intensity of the last 10 minutes of a soccer match. Another factor that makes CrossFit ideal for soccer training is that it only focuses on functional movements such as “squatting, pressing, sprinting, [and] kicking.” As the site explains the bicep curl has no functionality and is therefore not needed in CrossFit training or soccer training.”

— CrossFit Training for Soccer by Brian Pyfferoen*


Soccer i.e, Football players at all levels who want to dominate on the field must be on a well strategized and complete barbell program. Heavy Powerlifting style Squats which load both the anterior and posterior muscles of the lower body are a must for developing high levels of neural integration which will convert into great sprinting and kicking performance on the field. Heavy Deadlifts also work in conjunction with squats especially emphasizing the posterior chain, which is crucial for soccer specific fitness and strength.

Heavy standing and bench presses should obviously be included to balance out the body’s strength topography and to build the strength to fend off opponents when controlling the ball. The benefits for goal keepers are obvious. Heavy Squats, Deadlifts, and Presses form the foundation of any strength program which is based on hard science.

Power Snatches, Power Cleans, and Power Jerks are the most effective means for developing full body power production which can have a revolutionary effect on a players game. Adding explosive strength barbell training into a soccer players training arsenal can turn the ball into a missile when it comes of his/her foot in the game.

Explosive Strength training can also immediately improve sprinting ability. The Olympic lifts are the heaviest foundation-to-extremity exercises. Meaning, the body initiates force from the foundation of the foot as it carries through to the extremity of the hand. This power-with-dexterity is obviously very advantageous to athletes.

One of the most novel and effective training methods for in-season training at ball sports are training complexes.  A complex is designed to convert as much of an athlete’s raw maximum strength to sport-specific starting strength. A complex is normally begun with a heavy maximum strength barbell exercise like Powerlifting Squats done for 1-3 reps with 80-95% or maximum, this develops a very large nearly maximal neurological output. This is immediately followed by an explosive strength exercise such as power clean for 1-3 reps with 60-70% of maximum. This engages the explosive strength program of the neurological system.

This could then be followed by light skipping to loosen up the muscles and engage the body agility mechanisms. To finish off the complex, the athlete then perform 5 specific sport movements. For soccer this would be 5 kicks of an actual ball, or five sprints, or whatever specific movement the coach thinks is best. This is the most efficient way to convert as much barbell strength into sport strength as possible.

It bodes well for soccer fans and players that the sport is awakening more and more to serious strength training. The competitive level of matches can only increase when the competitors are stronger and more powerful.

*For quoted article, please visit: The Barbell Spin

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