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Building your football muscles without equipment


This is an early-season session that focuses on muscle development and which you can dip back into over the course of the season. Footballers need to use all their muscles, not just the ones in their legs. You can do these drills in small groups to make them more fun and switch them up during the session.

Building your football muscles without equipment
football-muscle-strengthening

The quadriceps

Wall sits: squat with your back against a wall or fence, with your hands beside your body (not on your thighs). Look forwards. Four to six 45-second sets followed by a minute's recovery.

Extension work that involves making a high stride, then when landing on the other foot, reaching a semi-flexed position and taking another stride.

Steps: often overlooked, calves are very important to football players. Stand on a step with your heels hanging off it. Lift yourself up onto your tiptoes then lower yourself back down. Between three to eight reps and five to ten reps with a minute's recovery.

Run with a weighted vest or carrying a teammate on your back. If doing the latter, run no more than 30 metres.

Forward lunges: to strengthen the calves, quads and hamstrings, i.e. the lower-body muscles. Stand upright with your back straight and take a big step forwards while also bending your other knee (which is close to the ground so your leg is tense). Remember to keep your back straight. Your shin (on your front leg) should be at right angles to the ground. You should have the opposite arm and leg forwards. Repeat with the other leg. Do three to five sets of ten reps with one min of recovery.

football-muscle-strengthening

Back and pectorals

The back

Players suffering any kind of back pain should not do these exercises.

Lie on the floor with your arms out to the side, keep your head on the floor and lift your arms as high as possible. Do two sets of 20 raises. Works the muscles between the shoulder blades.

Lie on your back with your arms crossed on your chest. Lift your shoulders off the floor without raising your legs. It's a sort of reverse crunch. Works the quadratus lumborum.

Pectorals

Press-ups: conventional style, hands in line with the rest of the body, buttocks clenched.

Variations with hands clasped or feet raised (on a chair, for example).

Hamstrings and abs

Hamstrings

In pairs, one person lies on their stomach with one leg bent (heel to buttock) and the knee touching the ground. The aim is to straighten their bent leg so it is flat on the ground, while their partner slows them (slowing, not blocking). Do a dozen reps on each leg. The idea is to slow the leg down, not stop it.

Lift your heel to your bum with a weight on your ankle. Between ten and 20 reps depending on the player (muscular or not).

Abs

Crunches: lie on your back with your knees raised and your lower back flat against the floor. Keep your chin off your chest and lift your head (and therefore part of your torso) towards your knees. Hold for around a second then slowly come back down. Do three to four sets of 20 to 30 raises. Works the rectus abdominis.

Front plank: rest on your elbows and toes, facing down, and keeping your back straight. Hold the position. Do three to four reps lasting 45 seconds. This exercise really works the rectus abdominis and the transverse abdominis.

Side plank: rest on your elbows and feet, and push your hips up. Do three to four reps lasting 45 seconds. Works the obliques and abs.

• Number abs: in the same position as the front plank, stretch your leg out and trace the numbers 0 to 20 with your toes. Your leg should be no more than 10cm off the ground to get the most out of this exercise. The number “8” gives you a particularly all-round workout!

football-muscle-strengthening

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