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How to improve strength for football

Why is strength important for football?
An increase in strength will improve your ability to sprint, jump and change direction at speed. Recent studies of top-flight football have shown that most goals come as a result of these types of powerful actions. At the other end of the pitch strength is equally important for winning battles in the air and defending in one-v-one situations.

Perhaps most importantly, the stronger you are, the less likely you’ll be to sustain injuries such as muscle strains and pulls. As a result, it makes sense for you to start placing more emphasis on strength training to stay fit and clear of the treatment table.

How can I fit it into my routine?
Technical and tactical pitch-based work should remain your priority but finding time for additional gym training could pay dividends. Below is a typical week for an amateur player and shows where you’ll be able to add in some gym time.

These additional sessions may only be 35 minutes in length and even doing them once a week would be beneficial. However, we don’t recommend adding these in the day before or after you play a match.

Which exercises are best for improving football strength?
Lower body exercises will give you the greatest return on the pitch. However, if you’re not used to them you may feel sore for a few days afterwards. Adding in this kind of training during pre-season is a good way to reduce the impact of this. As you become more familiar with lower body work that soreness will stop.

Suitable exercises, to be done following a thorough warm up, are suggested below – try to vary which ones you use session-to-session to add variety:

Two of the following multi-joint exercises

Hex or straight bar deadlifts

Barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell squats

Walking dumbbell lunges

Dumbbell step ups

Two of the following single-joint exercises

Swissball hamstring curls

Machine hamstring curls

Hip thrusts

Machine leg extension

How many sets and reps?
The number of sets and reps that you complete will determine your physical development. Our table (below) outlines a 12-week guide for developing muscular endurance, strength and power. By the end of the cycle, you’ll be sure to notice the benefits on the pitch.

What should I eat and drink?

Prior to starting a session in the gym, it is important that your energy levels are high in order to maintain the intensity of your workput.  An SiS Energy Bar or SiS GO Electrolyte will help to top your energy stores up if you haven’t eaten for a while.

As most gym workouts tend to be shorter than football sessions on the grass they require less energy. As a result, additional carbohydrate during these sessions may not be required. Instead there are two main priorities:

Maintaining hydration levels is important to ensure optimal performance. SiS GO Hydro can help this by replacing lost electrolytes.

Additionally, strength training leads to adaptations in our muscles and makes them stronger. As muscle is made of protein using SiS BCAA can help to prevent muscle breakdown during gym sessions.

As with football training, it is advised that protein is consumed within 60 minutes of gym sessions. Research suggests 20 g of protein is sufficient to optimise recovery and adaptation. Furthermore, because of its high leucine content and rapid digestion, whey protein is the most effective type of protein at this time. SiS WHEY20 or SiS Advanced Isolate+ both are practical and appropriate sources.

In summary, we know that strength is important for football and that adding in even one focused lower-body strength session per week could really help your game. Mixing up these exercises on days not too close to the game combined with the right nutritional strategy will magnify your improvements. Being optimally fuelled when starting these sessions, staying hydrated throughout and recovering appropriately afterwards will help take your game to the next level.

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