Football is a high-intensity, intermittent sport. To succeed, you need strength, power, agility and speed, alongside core stability.
“Footballers work in all planes of motion, using every part of their body in harmony,” says Andrew Wiseman, a strength and conditioning coach who has worked with Chelsea, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic. “I look to strengthen players from top to toe, to make them stronger and more robust to resist injury.”
The following exercises will help you to build a foundation of strength, increase leg power in order to jump higher and sprint faster, and build core stability to hold off opponents and reduce injury through impact.
Do 3 sets of each exercise, resting for 60 seconds between sets. Use a weight that takes you almost failure in the final rep.
1. Box Jump
Beginner: 5 reps
Intermediate: 5 reps (land on one leg)
Advanced: 5 reps (single-leg box jump)
- Stand facing a box with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Lower into a half squat position, swinging your arms backward, then leap on to the box, swinging your arms forward in the process to gain momentum.
- Land on the box with your knees bent to absorb the impact.
- Step down and repeat.
Beginner: 10 reps (bodyweight)
Intermediate: 10 reps (dumbbells)
Advanced: 10 reps (barbell)
- Stand with feet just wider than shoulder-width apart.
- If you’re using dumbbells, hold them by your sides; if a barbell, rest it on the backs of your shoulders.
- With your chest up and core braced, squat until your thighs are at least parallel with the floor, making sure your knees stay wide apart.
- Drive up through your heels to stand.
3. Alternating Step-Up
Beginner: 10 reps each side (bodyweight)
Intermediate: 10 reps each side (light dumbbells)
Advanced: 10 reps each side (heavy dumbbells)
- Stand facing a box or bench with your feet together. Keep your core braced throughout.
- Extend at the hip and knee of your left leg and place your left foot on the box, then push upwards with your right foot to stand on it with both feet.
- Exhale, step down and repeat on the other side.
4. Barbell Bench Press
(Simply increase the load to increase difficulty)
- Lie on a flat bench holding a bar with an overhead grip and hands just over shoulder-width apart.
- Drive your feet hard into the floor for stability and press the weight straight up powerfully until your arms are fully extended. This is your start position.
- Lower the bar slowly to just above your chest, inhaling while doing so, then push back up to the start while exhaling.
5. Wide-Grip Pull-Up
Beginner: 8 reps (band-assisted)
Intermediate: 8 reps (bodyweight)
Advanced: 8 reps (weighted)
- Grip the pull-up bar with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Lean your torso back, stick out your chest and contract your core before pulling yourself towards the bar, keeping your torso still and looking straight forwards.
- Once your chin has cleared the bar, lower yourself until your arms are fully extended.
6. Lunge and Twist
Beginner: 8 reps each side (bodyweight)
Intermediate: 8 reps each side (light medicine ball)
Advanced: 8 reps each side (heavy medicine ball)
- Holding a medicine ball straight in front of you, take a big step forwards and lower into a lunge, keeping your torso upright.
- Keep your front knee in line with your front toes.
- At the bottom of the lunge, contract your abs and rotate your upper body to the same side as your front leg, then return to the middle.
- Push up with your front foot to return to the starting position. Alternate sides.