Should soccer players bench press and improve their upper body strength? Take a look at most of the Barcelona football players. Yeah, they’re not huge muscle bound athletes. No, they’re actually pretty skinny overall. The players at Barcelona would rather spend time with the soccer ball than at a gym. And can you blame them. Of course not. Soccer is all about the ball at your foot.
Still though, someone like Gareth Bale is incredibly strong, both his upper and lower body, which makes him hard to knock off the ball. It’s about finding a balance for what works for you, some strength but not losing your focus on improving your skills on the ball.
Skills on the soccer ball is the foundation of every top pro soccer player in the world. Neymar didn’t do the bench press every single day, as you can tell from just looking at him. No, Neymar spent time with the ball, juggling and playing pickup soccer – street soccer, Ginga.
Take a look at Landon Donovan, the LA Galaxy forward isn’t spending time trying to increase his bench press max. No, he too is spending more time on the soccer field kicking a soccer ball. He’d rather work on his weaker foot or free kicks than try to increase his bench press number.
At the same time though, it’s not to say you should stop doing the bench press entirely, but there’s no reason to build up so much muscle that it actually slows you down and makes you less mobile and flexible. And really, doing push ups on a regular basis can build strength just as well as doing the bench press.
Build your core strength and don’t focus too much on trying to become a weight lifting champion. You can do the bench press but go for endurance and repetitions rather than building up bulk that will slow you down on the soccer field. See how many reps you can do or even just how many push ups you can do rather than trying to max out.
Grab your soccer ball and hit the soccer park and don’t worry too much about trying to build up your strength. If Barcelona’s Neymar isn’t worried about his max on the bench press then you shouldn’t worry either.
However, if you’re injured and can’t play soccer, but can lift weights, then that’s a good way to stay in shape and keep active.
Also, lifting weights will boost your confidence, as your improved strength will make you feel like you can do a lot more on the field and not get pushed off the ball as easily when trying to shield the ball. So the key is to no overdue it when weight lifting and find a good balance that works for you.