Soccer (football or fútbol) is one of the most grueling sports in terms of endurance. Players cover a massive field for a long period of time without any official rest periods (no timeouts) besides a half time. Soccer athletes play on the edge of the lactate threshold, pressing their MHR (maximum heart rate) to between 80% and 90%.
According to a 1996 publication entitled Science and Soccer by T. Reilly, the activity of soccer players on average breaks down into 36% jogging, 24% walking, 20% coursing, 11% sprinting, 7% moving backwards and 2% maneuvering while controlling the ball.
Although most of a soccer player’s strength is in their legs, there is a great deal of need for upper body strength as well, especially when it comes to defending an attack and throwing in the ball. With all that said, the traditional 3 sets of 10 weightlifting rule won’t do soccer players much good. Soccer strength training needs to be designed a bit differently based on the following strength criteria.
Endurance strength, when the muscles have adapted to repeatedly performing the same high-intensity movements, is the most essential strength for soccer.
Universal strength training programs only help soccer player to a certain degree.
A better way to more efficiently tackle soccer-specific strength needs is to participate in circuit training. Adapting various stations to the specific requirements of the soccer player’s movements will add the necessary strength, endurance, and agility necessary to play the game better.
Maximum strength is the absolute exertion force which a group of muscles can achieve in one single contraction and is the foundation for acquired muscular power and speed. Soccer requires such strength from its players when it comes to defending the ball to keep offensive players at bay.
One adjustment which is required of those training for soccer is to increase repetition speed and frequency. Bodybuilders use this strength training technique to slowly push or press weight to achieve greater muscle mass. However, the soccer player needs to achieve more explosive power and, therefore, executing maximum strength exercises, such as bench presses, leg presses and squats, with more speed in order to provide the desired results.
Muscular power is achieved by training for both maximum strength and movement speed. Whenever you increase one of those elements (without decreasing the other) you improve explosive muscular power.
The use of Plyometrics is a popular and effective way to increase muscle power. Such exercises focus on increasing both strength and speed in the same movement. An example of a Plyometric exercise is doing push-ups with hand claps.
By focusing on increasing your endurance strength, maximum strength and muscle power, you will be able to maneuver in your soccer games with more dominance and confidence.