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Soccer Player Strength Program Considerations

Are you looking for a complex weight training program? Are you constantly looking to change up your workout program? I hear these questions all the time. People ask me constantly wanting a new weight lifting program. However, many people do not give their previous weight lifting programs a chance to work. You have to choose a good weight lifting program and stick with it for at least a month. If it’s a solid weight training program, you will make good progress if you are doing everything else right. Everything else means diet, nutrition, sleep, water intake, rest and recovery, tracking results, making adjustments. Many people are looking for some complex weight training program because they just don’t think the simple weight lifting programs with simple guidelines will work for them. They need something better. Something more complex.

Traditional ways to improve soccer player strength include resistance training and plyometric exercises with movement patterns as close as possible to specific football skills, aiming to warrant the highest degree of transference between strength gains and soccer technical skills (Brito 2014). Conditioning coaches often refer to the complex training method, which combines weight lifting of heavy-loads with plyometric exercises, set for set, in the same workout.

Brito (2014) analyzed the short-term performance effects of three in-season low-volume soccer player strength training programs in college male soccer players. Fifty-seven male college soccer players (age: 20.3 years) were randomly assigned to a resistance-training group (n=12), plyometric training group (n=12), complex training group (n=12), or a control group (n=21). In the mid-season, players underwent a 9-week strength-training program, with two 20 min training sessions per week. Short-term effects on strength, sprint, agility, and vertical jump abilities were measured. All training groups increased 1-RM squat (range, 17.2–24.2%), plantar flexion (29.1–39.6%), and knee extension (0.5–22.2%) strength compared with the control group . The resistance-training group increased concentric peak torque of the knee extensor muscles by 9.9–13.7%, and changes were greater compared with the control group. The complex training group presented major increments (11.7%) in eccentric peak torque of the knee flexor muscles on the non-dominant limb compared with the control group and plyometric training group. All training groups improved 20-m sprint performance by 4.6–6.2% compared with the control group. No differences were observed in 5-m sprint and agility performances. Overall, the results suggest that in-season low-volume strength training is adequate for developing soccer player strength and speed.

Soccer-specific plyometric skills can be used in low-volume resistance training sessions. Given the small effect sizes observed, it should be stated that the sample size might be statistically too small to detect differences between all training regiments. No significant short-term differences were observed between the complex training group and resistance training group over the training period. Also, the changes in strength and sprint performance observed due to plyometric training were not unnoticed, given the very low-volume of training (Brito 2014) . In soccer, the time available for in-season additional strength training might be reduced to the “minimum possible volume”. Conditioning coaches can optimize strength-training programs by using the best strategies to warrant transference between strength enhancements and match-specific technical skills. It was observed that combining high-load soccer player strength training with soccer-specific movements might be an effective strategy to improve strength and speed. Conditioning coaches should take into account that during the competitive season low-volume strength training sessions might grant performance-enhancing effects in college soccer players.

At COR, we use an individualized approach for all our soccer players.This approach helps each athlete reach their physical training capacity in their sport. Our approach begins with a sports biomechanical assessment, determining the impairments and limitations of the athletes. Then, our background in biomechanics, rehabilitation, physiology, and performance enhancement helps guide an individualized approach for each team. This maximizes training capacity for each individual.


1. Brito J, Vasconcellos F, Oliveira J, Krustrup P, Rebelo A. Short-term performance effects of three different low-volume strength-training programmes in college male soccer players. J Hum Kinet. 2014 Apr 9;40:121-8.

Written by Chris Barber, CPT