08 July, 2011
Exercises to Improve Power in Soccer
Soccer is a very active sport, one that utilizes several major muscle groups. The muscles primarily used in soccer include the quadriceps at the front of the thighs and the hamstrings at the back, as well as the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in the calves. For greater power in soccer, target these muscles with several exercises.
Do a Rear Lunge
The lunge is one of the most effective exercises for the lower body, and the rear lunge in particular targets the quadriceps, one of the main muscles used for kicking and passing the ball in soccer. Stand with a narrow stance, holding a barbell so it rests against the back of your shoulders. While keeping your back straight, lunge back with one leg, lowering down until the knee of your back leg is nearly touching the floor. Return to your standing position, switch leg positions and repeat to complete one rep.
Lie Down and Curl Those Hamstrings
To build strength and power in your upper legs, include the lying hamstrings curl in your workout. On the lying hamstring curl machine, lie face-down, grasp the handles with your hands and secure your feet under the foot pad. Engage your core and inhale, and as you exhale, flex your knees and bring your heels up toward your buttocks. Return to your starting position to complete one rep.
Raise Those Calves for Results
To increase power in your lower body, you need to work the calves. The dumbbell standing calf raise in particular is one of the best for building them. Start in a standing position on a step or platform, with your heels hanging off the edge. Support yourself on a handrail or an adjacent wall for balance. Engage your core to improve your stability, then flex your ankles, raising your heels as high in the air as possible without lifting the balls of your feet. Lower your heels back down to complete one rep.
Press Power Into Your Calves
The lever seated calf press exercise targets the gastrocnemius muscles in your calves, but it also works the smaller soleus muscles. Sit on a leg press machine with your back flat against the back pad and your feet on the platform with your heels hanging off the back. Keep your upper body rigid and extend your legs, pushing the platform forward with your feet until your legs are straight. Return to your original position.
Avoid the Dreaded Plateau
When you're no longer feeling challenged with the weight you use during an exercise, you need to increase it to avoid a fitness plateau. Just be sure, as the American Council on Exercise warns, to limit the amount of weight you add. Only increase the weight by increments of five to 10 percent when you are able to easily complete 12 reps with proper form. This prevents you from taking on too much weight all at once, which could place excess stress on your body and cause an injury.
How Cardio Can Help
Doing cardio not only tones the body and burns calories for fat loss, it also helps enhance your soccer skills by improving your respiratory fitness. Cardio activity involves any form of exercise that increases your heart rate and improves the uptake of oxygen by your body. Focus on cardio exercises that engage the lower body, for example, jumping jacks, rope jumping , burpees, squat jumps and cycling.
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