General Strength Training Guidelines for Soccer

I’ve been assisting some international professionals in various capacities with their training and I thought some of my recent email dialog would be useful for this blog. Here are some recent bullet point responses regarding my general format for strength plans for futbol / soccer players. This is unedited responses but it should be clear. If you have any questions post to the comments please.

 Strength can definitely help both with injury resistance and athletic abilities like sprinting and jumping. Great that you’ve started with the foundational work and understand the basic movement patterns. This will help.

My VERY general template that I use with soccer players for a strength session is:

  1. Lower body explosive lift or plyos (cleans, jump squats, alternating lunge jumps, etc)…typically 4-6 sets of 2-6 reps
  2. Lower body strength (squat, front squat, lunges, step ups, etc)…..typically 4-6 sets of 5-10 reps
  3. Upper body push and / or pull (Pullups, Bench Press, etc)….typically 4-6 sets of 5-10 reps
  4. Lower body posterior chain (RDLs, nordic hamstrings, etc)…..typically 2-3 sets of 8-15
  5. Rotational or rotational control core (planks, rotational walks, etc)…..typically 2-3 sets of 8-15
Things switch up depending on a variety of factors like skill level, injuries, where we are in the season, the player’s readiness score and what preceded the current training cycle.

Do your sprint and plyos before you lift and don’t do too much total volume (~250-400m total volume) in reps no longer than 40m (and usually closer to 20m).

The rep / set / load numbers you suggested (of 70-80% of 1RM for heavy weight training in sets of 3-5 for 5 reps and loads of 30% for explosiveness) are generally correct and what I use much of the time. I often go on the higher end of the rep spectrum (7-10) on strength movements with athletes that aren’t able to spend a lot of time in the weight room. The exception is weightlifting movements like cleans, snatches, etc. Those can be done up to 80-85% of your maximum with lower rep ranges 1-4 reps.

Most of the time we do controlled decent and explosive concentric portion but at certain times of the year we do very slow descents (3-5 seconds) and sometimes when we’re trying to be very explosive we’ll minimize the time of the eccentric / descending phase and focus on fast turn-arounds between descent to concentric….this is what happens in sport.

I like to lift players 2-3 times a week. If they’re under a heavy travel / playing schedule and playing many minutes I’ll reduce to 1x / week with a 2nd day being bodyweight strength circuits on the field. In season, I tend to keep things VERY simple and am careful not to introduce novel training stimuli or new exercises because that’s one of the primary things that’ll cause soreness.

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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 : Training