Because such a large portion of our training at Soccer Fitness is devoted to repeated bouts of high intensity activity, many of the body’s existing muscle weaknesses and strength imbalances may become inflamed and aggravated. In addition, new overuse type injuries may develop in the muscles which are constantly being used and stressed during repeated high intensity activity, including the upper body, lower body and core. It is for these reasons that we have incorporated the Soccer Fitness Functional Strength Training Protocols into all of our athletes’ training programs.
Functional Strength Training is ‘functional’, in that the exercises are designed to target the muscles and movement patterns that are the most important for optimal physical performance in soccer. There are three different Functional Strength Training programs that an athlete will be given, based on the results of the Functional Movement Test:
- Lower Body
- Upper Body
- Combined Lower and Upper Body
The Lower Body Functional Strength Training Protocols contain exercises that will strengthen specific lower body muscles which have been identified as performing less than optimally in the Functional Movement Test. Key areas and muscles of focus for the Lower Body program are:
- transverse abdominus (spine strength and stability)
- hamstrings (hip extensors and knee flexors)
- gluteus maximus (powerful hip extensors)
- gluteus medius (hip external rotators)
- rectus femoris and illiopsoas (hip flexors)
- adductor magnus (hip external rotators)
The Upper Body Functional Strength Training Protocols contain exercises that will strengthen specific upper body muscles which have been identified as performing less than optimally in the Functional Movement Test. Key areas and muscles of focus for the Upper Body program are:
- middle trapezeus (scapular retractors)
- rear deltoids and rhomboids (scapular retractors and adductors)
- supraspinatus and teres minor (shoulder external rotators)
- infraspinatus (shoulder abductors)
- subscapularis (shoulder internal rotators)
- serratus anterior (scapular protractors)
The Combined Lower and Upper Body Functional Strength Training Protocol contains exercises from both the Lower and Upper Body programs. This Protocol will be selected for athletes who show weaknesses and imbalances in both the lower and upper body in their Functional Movement Test.
Functional Strength Training sessions are delivered on both Treadmill and Plyometric Training Days, in 8-, 16-, 24- and 32-week programs, which comprise the entire soccer off-season from October to May. This training can also be done during the soccer season, in 8- and 16-week maintenance programs, designed to help athletes maintain all of the endurance, speed and power they develop during the off-season. The programs are age-appropriate and periodized based on the power output for each particular workout. Sessions are all 1 hour in length, and athletes train in groups of 1-5, and each group works with a specific trainer for the duration of the session.