Muscle Sport Magazine

World Cup Winning Soccer Workout

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil occurring as you read this has made practically everyone on the planet a soccer fan. But how about the ones who play this sport? Training to excel at soccer is different from many other sports in that the lower body comes into play a lot more than the upper, but preparation needs to include everything. It is true that the goalkeeper is the only player who can touch the ball with his hands in the actual field of play, but the other 10 on the ‘pitch’ use their upper bodies a lot more than you think.


Even something as pedestrian as throw-ins can be crucial as far as keeping possession of the ball and the overhead motion is something that can be honed with the proper training for it. And headers can also be a game-changer, so getting one’s jumping ability and neck strength up is as important as speed and leg strength.

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And if you’re a goalie, there is no unimportant skills to work on. Having the ability to go side-to-side, high and low to keep the onion bag from getting stretched is quite the challenge. That is an entirely different animal and would require its own complete training feature.




Building up your quads and hamstrings are pivotal for soccer. So the usual squats, leg presses, leg extensions, leg curls and stiffed leg deadlifts are a given. But work in some barbell side lunges to prep for those one-on-one battles, especially if you’re a defender.

Ignoring or making your calves an afterthought is a big mistake that many soccer players make. Don’t be another one in that category. Your lower legs are what makes the engine run and if you have strong and wide calves, the rest of your body will benefit. So don’t just sneak in three or four sets on the way out the door; hit them hard with at least two different movements, four sets each. Standing calf raises, seated, donkey and using the edge on various leg presses are all good and give you a nice variety to choose from without having to repeat a movement in two consecutive workouts. Plus, your calves are the type of muscles that can be worked more frequently.




To mimic a throw-in, the kettlebell is a great tool to do different overhead press movements. There are also many different triceps exercises that will strengthen this part of your game, such as french presses (one-arm dumbbell or barbell/EZ-curl bar), vertical overhead cable presses and even skull crushers.


Working your traps will help with heading the ball, so make sure to do shrugs (barbell or dumbbell) and upright rows. Some of your old school gyms will even have that head contraption you can hook onto the cables and work your neck that way, too.





Box jumps and broad jumps will help your ‘ups’ and give you an edge on those corner kicks coming your way inside the box. Speed drills like sprints and shuttles may push you passed that sticking point, but being the tortoise or the hare is sometimes a predetermined part of your natural ability. So to combat that, you need to build up your endurance – a trait that is undeniable on a field as large as the one soccer is played on and a clock that goes to the 90-minute mark.


Do 10, 20 and 30-yard sprints with short rest periods (five-to-10 seconds) and work your way down field. Keep doing this until you shave precious seconds off your time and doing it while fatigued will build up that all-important endurance.


Photo: Getty Images

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