Soccer strength exercises are like a deep ocean when it comes to what you can work on. To me heavy weight is not needed for soccer players. Instead of heavy weights, go with resistance or no weight at all. If you do weights, go light and high reps. Below I listed safe and easy exercises that require no equipment. It all depends on you, when it comes to strength training. Your gender, age, body type, fitness, schedule, genetics, sport, history and more. Across America there are school districts that require & recommend high school coaches follow a weight training curriculum with not much high level soccer experience. Not just soccer either, other sports like volleyball. Note: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
In my opinion I disagree with high school girls lifting weights at school, especially ones who play club. I do like resistance or body weight strength, but not weights at this age. Girls who play club have a different schedule then girls who don’t play club. Club players have a demanding physical schedule and so playing HS soccer on top of that is just more than people know. There are so many natural ways to improve great strength without lifting weights. I want you to know these 7 safe soccer strength exercises with no equipment needed, so you can stay strong and healthy not strong and in pain. Please share this with your friends, they will appreciate you for it.
Heavy weight lifting causes injury so lift light
Soccer strength exercises should be done simple and light. Most players, parents and coaches don’t know how to lift weights the right way, which caused long term injury. Please don’t compare high school girls to the USWNT [US Women’s National Team] because these are adults who play soccer for a living. High school girls are still growing and are more prone to injury when lifting heavy weights. Instead why not just do what we all know works and is safe? You wouldn’t believe how many stories I hear of players having to max out on squats and dead lifts with no belt. Are you kidding me? Even with a belt, why would you make high school girls max out on squats and dead lifts? It’s not like they are going to retain this strength. After a few weeks of taking off of weight lifting they will lose that strength. So why beat up the joints and muscles just to get “strong” for the season?
Lunges help keep your upper legs strong
While doing lunges make sure you contract your core while going down and coming up. This help protect the knee’s and back, all while strengthening your core. If you feel knee pain while doing them, then see if you can do them without going all the way down. If you feel pain then don’t do them, because you don’t want to irritate the knee. But make sure before you start you warm up with a light jog and stretch. A proper warm up reduces that pain we feel in our joints.
Side lunges are also great for our legs and core. The side lunges target a whole different area, which is what we want in strength training. We want to reach as many large and small group muscles. Again you will hear me say this all the time, but as you do these tighten your core as you lunge up and down. Not only will you strengthen your core while doing this, but you take pressure off the joints and other muscles.
Wall sits strengthen your thighs
Doing wall sits will help strengthen your quads and help protect the knee’s. The reason these will help the knee’s is because the quads are the main muscles that protect your knee. So why not help condition and strengthen what protects your knee. When I lived in Denver, CO I had a really good PT, [shout out to Christian] which by the way a PT is way different from a personal trainer at the gym. Anyways his mentor worked with hall of fame athletes like Roger Clemons, SHAQ and others who would fly to see him. They were big on doing wall sits for 5 minutes straight. At first you would build up to 5 minutes in a day, so maybe you do 1 minute, 5 times a day and then a few days later you are doing 2.5 mins twice a day. Do this until you can do 5 mins straight. This helped reduce knee injuries by 80%. This is for pro players, so for a high school player 2 or 3 minutes would be good. When you get up from the wall, push off with your hands instead of just pushing off with your rear. This helps protect the knees from unneeded stress.
Push ups are great to improve upper body strength
One of the best ways to improve strength is by doing push ups. If you remember a certain American football players named Hershel Walker. All he did for strength is push ups and sit ups. And I’m talking thousands per day. I don’t recommend you do that many LOL, but I do recommend doing them at least once a week. 3 sets of 10 is great, but if you want to go up to 3 sets of 20 or more you can. Remember to contract your core [tighten your stomach muscles] while you do each push up. This helps build your core and your upper body all at the same time. Keeping your core tight will also take pressure off your back.
Plank strengthens your core and back
Do 3 sets of 30 seconds or 1 minute if you can. Each time you do these you will literally get stronger every day. Start off with 20 or 30 seconds and build up to 1 or 2 minutes. Each time you do a set, turn over and do a side plank for the same amount of time. Make sure you get both sides and do 3 sets of each. So do regular plank facing down, then do your right side and then your left side. That’s 1 set of each, so then do 2 more sets to complete your planks. This will strengthen your core, back and shoulders. Remember to contract your core the whole time you are doing these exercises. This way you build your core and protect your back.
1 leg balancing to strengthen the knee
Simple balancing is great for the ankle and knee’s, and is one of the best soccer strength exercises. Balance on one leg and go down and touch a cone or anything that is 4-6 inches high on the inside of your foot. Come up slow and controlled and then go back down to touch the front. Continue with all the motions being slow and on your third one go down and touch the outside of your foot. Going down those three times will be 1 set. Repeat this 3 times with each leg. It doesn’t take long so make sure you do them slow and controlled. Its easy to want to just finish it towards the end, so remember do it slow. You are not bouncing or moving during this exercise. One leg is planted still, while you bend down to touch the sides and front of your foot. Here are 3 essential knee strength tips.
Sit ups are great to keep your core strong
Sit ups are always going to be one of the best things you can do for strength. Everyone wants to know what the newest and best things. You know you see a different core invention every other month on TV, but at the end of the day you just need to exercise. We don’t need machines to workout! With sit ups we can do traditional ones, bicycles, crunches and so many other types of sit ups, like side crunches.
If you have back problems or tightness then do crunches where your knees stay up high, and you just bring them in towards your chest. This takes away from what your back has to do and gives all the strength to your core. The first 10 or 20 will feel like it’s too easy and your not getting a workout, but once you hit 20 or so you will start to feel it. Do 3 sets of 50 or 100 depending on how your body is feeling that day. If you feel no back pain then reach your limit with 100+. Push it to where your core/stomach starts to burn. That’s how you will gain your strength!
Crab walk forwards helps strengthen hamstrings
The last major muscle you want to focus on for soccer strength exercises is your hamstrings. If you just spend 1 minute a week doing these it will keep your hamstrings conditioned and strong enough to protect other muscles and joints. Just like the rest of these exercises, it’s not like you need to do a lot of it. Once a week is good enough. If you are a smaller player needing to get stronger then do more reps. Just don’t start off going crazy. Make sure you ease into it slow and build up over the weeks. This way your body is not in shock from any drastic changes and you can get used to building the strength all naturally. Here’s how to prevent and recover from hamstring injuries.
If you have weak wrist then you need to be careful with these. Even if you have healthy wrist’s, you will still feel it doing crab walk. So don’t do them fast, just do them so that you get a workout in the hamstrings. But at the same time, this will help strengthen your wrist, which is good because it helps protect them for when you fall in games or training.
Soccer strength exercises should be done without weights at a younger age. Once your in college and especially pro’s it’s normal to do weight training. But even then, if you are a bigger stronger player I would follow this routine and work on your conditioning by running over weight training. It all depends on the players body type or fitness level at the time.
Larger stronger players should have different plan
The players who are already stronger or bigger, should have a different training plan. If they are already stronger than most of their peers, then they should focus on conditioning for their soccer strength exercises. Things like running or bike or even floor exercises. When I was in college, I wished I would have had to do running instead of weight training because I didn’t need weight training. I needed more fitness so that I could have been more slim instead of bigger. I think that athletes should have different programs that tailor their body type. At the end of it all, we have to do what our coaches say and respect them.
If you are have pain communicate to coaches and parents
Some players are dealing with certain injuries at different times. If you are having pain in your back or knee or anywhere, you should tell your parents and coach. See a doctor who can asses what’s going on and you might need to get a doctors note explaining to the coach what’s going on. Remember you are playing soccer for you first, not the coach. You respect the coach always, but when dealing with pain you have to be safe and smart. Solve the problem, don’t create a bigger one. I hope these soccer strength exercises are helpful to you!