Soccer is one of the most popular competitive sports out there. While some like to claim that success is dependent on luck, the truth is that the best players are top athletes who follow intense and varied training programs. But training for soccer isn’t just about practicing your penalties. If you're looking to reach Marc-André ter Stegen's level, you should mix up your training with cardio, strength and bodyweight training.
Why should soccer players work out?
Soccer is an intense sport that requires a certain level of fitness and a broad skill set. Working on technical skills such as dribbling, passing, and shooting on the field will see you improve to a certain extent, but also focusing on your general strength and fitness will enhance performance even more so. Including bodyweight exercises in your training is one way to do this.
The following full body exercises are especially useful for soccer players as they focus on the lower body without neglecting the core. Targeted at increasing strength, agility, and balance, including these in your soccer training will also help to reduce the risk of injury.
1 workout, 5 bodyweight exercises
Let's start with plyometrics. Lunges are a compound movement that target the entire lower body, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Plyometrics are a highly effective way to bulletproof and sharpen your entire body, whatever your sport of choice. Working in the sagittal plane means that your stability, mobility, strength, power and dynamic balance will all be challenged.
This particular squat variation offers several benefits for soccer players looking to improve their physical skills. Unlike the split lunge, this is a transversal plane movement and so engages a totally different set of muscles. As an active exercise employing a full range of motion, it targets the mobility and flexibility of the ankles, knees, and hips, reducing the risk of injury. Alongside benefits to agility, Cossack Squats are also an excellent exercise for strengthening the adductors, quads, and glutes.
Side Plank Twists
As with any sport, core strength is a crucial component of performance success. Having trained the lower body in the sagittal and transverse plane with the exercises above, it’s now important to train the core in the frontal plane. Side Plank Twists are an excellent way to increase your core strength, providing strength and stability both in the upper and lower body, while also developing the mobility and balance of the torso.
Now it's time to develop your upper body strength and to focus on the posterior chain. Pullups are a great compound exercise that target the back, deltoids and biceps. If this exercise is too difficult, the modified versions can be just as effective; think Assisted Pullups, Negative Pullups and Jumping Pullups.
Pushups are one of the best bodyweight exercises to train the upper body pushing kinetic chain, i.e. the chest, deltoids and triceps. Despite what you might think, a strong upper body is essential for soccer as it will give you the edge in one on one challenges. The added leg movement in this particular exercise also targets the hip flexors, increasing strength and mobility in this area too and helping to enable sudden bursts of speed.
Technique is one thing, but fitness and strength is the thing guaranteed to bring your soccer performance to the next level. Try incorporating some of these exercises into your training program and see the results for yourself.