Body-weight exercises can take place on the field.
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Racing around the soccer field 90 minutes per game can make you lean as a whippet with tip-top cardio conditioning. But you need to rebuild muscles taxed a bit too much by all your runs and sprints. Body-weight and free-weight routines allow you to reconstruct a stronger body, which makes you better able to contest rivals for ball possession, jump higher for the ball and bang out long goal kicks.
Pumping the Upper Body
The classic pushup offers a body-weight option for upper-body strength. Perform pushups on a soccer ball to provide a greater challenge to your core. Place one hand on the ball for several pushups and then switch. If you have access to a weight room, a complete upper-body program can include dips, dumbbell or barbell curls, lat or standing pushdowns to get your arms strong enough to fend off challenges, notes physiologist Donald T. Kirkendall in вЂњSoccer Anatomy.вЂќ And build your neck muscles for headers with the intriguing вЂњhead-ball-headвЂќ isometric exercise. Kirkendall advises working with a partner to squeeze a soccer ball between each of your foreheads. Avoid turning this into a competitive exercise, but do push firmly against the ball to engage your trunk and neck.
Abs of Steel
Your body weight can provide plenty of resistance for abs work. Try reverse crunches, where you keep your torso fixed on the ground and bring your knees over your head. It's the opposite of a crunch where you bring your upper body to your knees. Repeat the reverse crunch with a soccer ball between your knees to better isolate the rectus abdominis muscle. Add bicycle crunches and vertical leg lifts as well.
Leg Exercises with a Partner
If you're looking for a body-weight exercise to strengthen the calves, work with a teammate. Have the partner climb on your back piggyback fashion, then perform controlled toe raises. To improve your quads, repeat this partner-assisted exercise, but this time perform a slow, controlled squat. Switch places with your partner when you complete your reps.
Strengthening the Trinity
A set of barbells or dumbbells means you can go for a progressively more challenging routine built around squats, lunges, step-ups, deadlifts and the bench press. And even without equipment, you can explore body-weight variations of squats, lunges and step-ups. This family of exercises strengthens the holy trinity of quads, hamstrings and glutes, which are crucial to your speed and jumping ability as a soccer player. As you get stronger, attempt single-leg versions of the squat and lateral and backward versions of the lunge, advises coach Greg Gatz in вЂњComplete Conditioning for Soccer.вЂќ