Selecting Appropriate Weight Room Loads for Soccer Players

The article below attempts to answer the question of what the optimal weight room load is for soccer players. The authors come to the conclusion that..

During the competition period, a load of 50% of a 1RM should be used in a BP to maintain muscular?power?over a wide load range.

While I don’t necessarily disagree with these findings, the method to come to this conclusion is flawed. This is an observational study just as the stop-motion analysis studies of soccer matches that show how far, how fast, and how many high intensity efforts a player performs in a game are. But we must realize that just because you see these outcomes in test (or match) scenarios doesn’t mean that replicating them are the best way to train those qualities. Just as Coach Mladen pointed out, in this excellent blog, expression does not equal development. So while the findings on power output are likely true (many other studies indicate that peak power output occurs in the range of 30-60% of 1RM loads) the extrapolation for training may be limited.

I prefer to train with loads across the entire continuum of the force-velocity curve and previous research supports this method as the best for improving athletic performance.


J Strength Cond Res.?2011 Oct;25(10):2764-72.

Optimal load maximizes the mean mechanical?power?output?during upper extremity exercise in highly trained?soccer?players.

Jandacka D,?Uchytil J.


Human Motion Diagnostic Center, University of Ostrava, Ostrava, Czech Republic.


The purpose of this study was to determine the optimal load for the maximal?power?output?during the acceleration phase of a?power?movement in bench press (BP) exercises of highly trained?soccer?players at the beginning of a competition period. Fifteen professional male?soccer?players with an average age of 26.1 ? 3.9 years, an average height of 183.3 ? 6.7 cm, an average body mass of 78.8 ? 7.2 kg, and an average 1 repetition maximum (1RM) of 83.3 ? 11.2 kg were employed as subjects in this study. Maximal mean?power?output?during a BP at 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, and 90% of their 1RM was measured to determine whether an optimal load exists that allows for the attainment of maximal?power?output. Three-dimensional upper extremity kinematic data were collected. Two force plates embedded in the floor and positioned below the bench were used to measure contact forces between the bench and ground during the lift. A repeated-measures analysis of variance was performed to determine?power?outputdifferences at different percentages of the 1RM. The results of this study indicated that loads of 50% of the 1RM resulted in greater mean?poweroutput?during the complete positive?power?movement. Loads at 30 and 50% of the 1RM resulted in greater mean?power?output?computed from the acceleration phase of the lift than did all loads and were not statistically different from each other. However, individual?soccer?players did not reach the maximum?power?output?with the same relative load. In conclusion, when?soccer?players develop muscular?power?toward the end of when the most important competitions are scheduled, dynamic effort strength training with the range of load from 30 to 50% of 1RM BP should be used. During the competition period, a load of 50% of a 1RM should be used in a BP to maintain muscular?power?over a wide load range.

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Mike Young

Director of Performance at Athletic Lab
Mike is the Head Fitness Coach for the North Carolina Courage and North Carolina FC. He is also the owner and Director of Performance at Athletic Lab sports performance training center. He previously served as the fitness coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Carolina Railhawks. He has a PhD in Biomechanics, an MS in Coaching Science, and a BSS in Exercise Physiology and has coached Olympic and professional athletes in Skeleton, Track & Field, MLS and NASL Soccer, PGA Golf, NFL Football, MLB Baseball and Olympic Weightlifting. He has lectured around the world and authored 2 books and dozens of research and coaching articles.
Category : Research, Training