Throughout our footballing careers many of us will have heard such phrases thrown around, that footballers should avoid strength training as an increase in muscle mass will actually have a negative impact on us as players; making us slower, heavier and less flexible.
No, we do not want to look like a body builder - but this is different from adding strength which is relative to our bodies and the athletic characteristics that our position demands.
Below we will outline the benefits of strength training (in general) to our performance as footballers.
- Big doesn't necessarily mean strong or explosive!
- Yes a bigger muscle has the potential to be a stronger muscle, a stronger muscle can become a more powerful muscle...when conditioned in the right way
- With the appropriate strength exercises we can condition added muscle to become powerful, athletic muscle which will aid our performance on the pitch
- We can also condition and maintain the muscle we already have to become more athletic without increasing size
- By ensuring maximum range of motion when strength training, we can actually improve our joint mobility and muscular flexibility whilst increasing joint stability
Strength for speed
- Strong muscles can contract quicker and more powerfully when trained in the correct manner
- Strength is essential for higher acceleration and faster limb movement
- Our speed will however be affected for up to approximately 72 hours after a heavy lifting session, during which time our muscles are in recovery (I always recommend heavy lifting to be used mainly during the off season when adequate recovery time is available).
- Strength training will improve our ability to maintain bursts of high velocity effort throughout a game
- A good level of muscular endurance gained through strength training is vital to maintain continuous spells of movement lasting between 40s and 2 minutes
- By strength training eccentrically we can improve our balance, shock absorption capability and amount of force our muscles and joints are able to withstand upon landing
- Resulting in lower risk of injury
- We can increase our ability to generate a greater force when jumping immediately following a landing
- Meaning more chance of getting to that second ball after landing a header
- Essential for accelerating from a stand still, when our muscles are required to generate maximum force at the beginning of a contraction to produce a high level of initial speed
- The quickest players are usually the ones who can also decelerate and change direction the quickest
- Deceleration requires great power in the muscles of the legs and glutes
- The same muscles are used here as in acceleration, however they are contracting eccentrically (lengthening rather than shortening)