As a soccer player, if you can’t make it to a gym -- whether because of time constraints, lack of membership, lots of traveling, or whatever other reason -- you can still get a solid workout by using your own body and gravity. To do this, though, you must set up a time and a routine to follow and stick with regularly. Usually an hour of work will go a long way.
To get started, do some of the exercises listed below. If you find that you’re not benefiting much after a few weeks or so, up the ante by trying different positions and including heavy objects. Sometimes, your body just needs to switch things up a bit to feel like it’s challenged. If not, it can adjust almost too well to its current routine. In the end, you’ll be surprised at just how good a team your body and gravity make!
And for soccer players, the idea isn't to win a weight lifting or body building contest, it's about maintain your fitness, reducing injuries and building strength. Take a look as some of the Barcelona players like Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, while they're not the biggest players in the world they're strong and extremely fit.
A final warning, though. Don’t hyperextend yourself. You can pull a joint or tear a muscle while doing any of these exercises, so proceed with caution at the start.
• Sit-ups – Be cautious of your neck! Keep it straight. Listen to your body and respond accordingly. Bring your chest up just enough to where you feel tightness in your abs. Some people like full-fledged sit-ups while others prefer crunches.
• Pushups – Do these with your arms spaced slightly wider than your shoulders, then bring your chest down to the ground and push back up with your arms.
• Plank Pushup – Start in the same position as a normal pushup but place your feet on an elevated surface, 4-6 inches off the ground. Bend knees, placing them on the ground, then bend elbows to 90-degrees. Lower chest to the ground, then push back up, straightening arms and legs. Repeat.
• Ups-Downs – Start with a pushup and then transition into a jump off the ground. Sit back down.
• Multidirectional Jumps – Jump frontward, backward, sideward, or twist (basically, you balance on one foot and spin/jump to the other).
• Squats – Bending down, lower your butt to your feet but keep your back flat.
• Mini Squats - Touch toes with opposite hand while keeping your legs straight.
• Plank – Pretend you’re doing a pushup but instead rest on your elbows and hold.
• Lunges – Here, you walk forward with giant steps. But while doing so bend down and touch your knee to the ground with each step.
• Calf Raises – While standing against a wall stand up on your toes.
• Wall Sits - hold yourself up against the wall at a 90 degree angle. Pretend like you’re sitting on an invisible chair.
• Isometric Hold - Squeeze and tighten the gluteus muscles (i.e. your butt) and release.
• Calf Raises (deeper) – While standing with your heels off the edge of a stairway or ledge, lift your heels up but hold on to a rail.
• Toe Raises – Simply walk on the heels of your feet.
• Standing Pose (Yoga Asana) - Tighten your quads, your arms, and push out your chest. Take deep breaths.
• Pull-ups and Dips – Parks or trails will often have equipment along the trail where you can do pull ups, dips, and other strengthening exercise. So keep an eye out for these types of trails and cross training options.
TIP: Just like weight training, it’s best to do several similar exercises that work the same muscle group. Doing so will broaden your range of movement and increase overall strength and agility. You’ll be working the entire muscle and its full range of movement, not a single spot.
For those who have a gym membership or want more information, see weight lifting.