To be an elite soccer goalkeeper takes significant work. Goalkeepers are a breed apart on the soccer pitch, and they have unique fitness requirements that are apart from his or her teammates.
Now soccer training for your cardiovascular system is one thing, but training for strength is another ball game altogether...no pun intended. Following is a smashing overview of the way to use weights for maximum goalkeeping performance and the benefits you can realize from conducting a strength training regime. Yeah, this will help you turn into the Hulk!
1. Plan, Plan, Plan: Oh, you thought this was a funky new exercise regime you see in those fancy gyms? No, Planning is serious business in the fitness game. Goalkeepers should aim at creating a structured regime (Periodization) where they will be able to increase exercise intensity and results over a period of time. Don't know how to plan? Well, if you are a serious goalkeeper and want to get ahead of the pack, enlist the efforts of a personal trainer (always ask them for credentials) who will guide you through a structured fitness regime. If you don't plan to enhance your goalkeeping skills...you plan to fail. Therefore, each training period should be broken up into blocks of 4 weeks. Each week we increase our intensity or volume in the workout by 5-10%, whilst the fourth week we cut down the intensity or volume by 5-10% to allow for active recuperation, and the cycle continues for 12 to 16 weeks. That is one example of periodization.
2. Start Light Young Grasshopper: Yes, I know in your mind you can lift a truck (and it's surprisingly good to have positive mental cues that enhance your performance), but if you want to achieve serious results start packing light weights. In fact, the best way to increase muscle fiber hypertrophy (growth) while maintaining your cardio at its max is to try concurrent training. Concurrent training is where you have a predefined circuit of weight machines (preferably hydraulic) stations and cardio stations. Your cardio stations can include skipping ropes, a stationary bike, a fit-ball for crunches (the list is endless). Concurrent training will enable a goalkeeper to enhance their muscle fiber strength, cardio output and give you other benefits like increased bone mineralization for strong healthy bones.
3. Hard & Heavy: OK, so now your ready to lift the truck. Training heavy will increase muscle size and density, and will give you the ability to recruit fast twitch muscle fibers (Type IIa & IIb). The best exercises to choose here are squats, bench press, dead-lifts, upright rows, chin-ups and military presses. Why these exercises? Well, the exercises that I have pointed out are all compound movements, which means a goalkeeper will need to recruit many muscles to get those fast twitch muscle fibers twitching! But hold your horses before you attempt hard and heavy lifting. The goalkeeper should always be accompanied by someone to spot them, should work at 80-95% of their maximum and only attempt heavy training for 1 session per week over a 4 to 8 week period. Hard & heavy training will also entail much rest (up to 4 to 7 days) and plenty of fluids as the goalkeeper will experience a build up of lactic acid.
4. Get Some Spring In Your Step: Having the ability to leap tall attackers in a single bound is a must for every goalkeeper. Plyometrics is all about enhancing your muscles stretch reflex, once trained, will allow you to increase power in the muscle and enhance your goalkeeping ability, especially when it comes to the almighty dive! Plyometric training involves a lot of bounding and leaping, and because these activities affect the goalkeepers ability at the neuro-muscular level they can tax the body's systems pretty heavily. Therefore, aim to get your plyometric training sessions started early in the morning. Some of the best plyometric activities include depth jumps. Depth jumps can be conducted in the sand, especially sandy hills, start at the top of the hill, jump, when you touch the ground, instantly jump again and land. Try this move 5 times and then rest for a minute between each jump.
So there you have it, just a few ways for you goalkeepers to become a goalkeeping hulk! Enjoy the training regime as it will be super intense, but will provide you with super results.
Must Watch: this amazing save by Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei in the MLS Cup final.
And don't forget to check out the Hulk in this Nike Soccer ad for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. The Hulk appears as a goalkeeper at about the 2:30 market in the Nike soccer commercial below.