Power Leg Workouts
This week’s Semper Soccer fitness and training tip features powerful leg workouts to improve your leg strength, which ultimately translates to a stronger foundation, more balanced core and extended endurance. The Williams Sport Training facility in New Jersey has worked with a handful of professional soccer players, including Tim Howard and Eddie Pope, to improve core strength and overall performance on the pitch. Founder Mark Williams has developed several programs to build leg strength; here are some of the best leg workouts to mix into your training routine. Each exercise is linked to a video demonstration.
Explosive two-legged exercises (perform two sets of high reps at a low weight and gradually work up to heavy weights at low reps for an additional three to five sets)
- Box squats: This exercise is a great way to practice exploding up with weight in your heels and improve overall starting strength. With the bar on your back maintain an athletic stance positioning your feet wider than your hips and slightly pointing your toes out. Slowly lower to the jump box, chair or bench positioned behind you, and once your butt touches the box explode up with both feet staying firmly on the ground.
- Deadlift: In the same athletic stance grip the bar just outside your knees as it touches your shins. Lock your back in a straight position with your shoulders up, abs engaged and chest flexed. Use only the muscles in your legs to rise to a standing position with your back flat and chest up, then slowly lower to the starting position. The most important aspect of this exercise is mastering the proper form. Watch the video above for visual instruction.
Single-leg kicking power exercises (perform three sets at 12 reps per leg)
- Split-squat: This workout is designed to improve strength and flexibility in your hip flexors and quads. Place one foot in front of the other with the squat bar on your back, lower until your back knee is barely above the floor and explode up.
- Single-leg squat: Another great hip flexor, quad and even hamstring exercise, single-leg squats have athletes rest one leg on a jump box or bench behind them and slowly lower with the front knee always tracking in front of the toes before rising to stand.
Lower back, glutes and hamstring (perform three sets of 12 reps)
- Goodmornings: This is a great exercise for “waking up” your lower back muscles. Standing with the squat bar on your back in a squat position, slowly hinge your hips and lower your upper body forward until it’s parallel with the ground. Then rise back up to the standing position keeping your back straight.
- Reverse hyper extension: You can perform reverse hyper extensions in a variety of ways using different equipment. In the video linked above, the trainer balances on a stability ball for an added degree of difficulty. The object of the exercise is to balance on an object with your feet below your body, then raise your feet until they are parallel with your body. As you lower, make sure your feet don’t touch the ground before rising up again.
All of these workouts will strengthen your legs and help you to develop kicking strength, as well as overall running endurance. It’s important to practice proper form and to change up your fitness routine every two to three weeks with new exercises. Make sure to check in again next week with the Semper Soccer blog for more fitness and training tips.