footballers lift weight

How Much Do Footballers Lift? – Full Guide

Strength training for footballers is an essential component of modern athletic preparation, pivotal in enhancing performance and extending careers. While football primarily showcases skills like dribbling, shooting, and tactical awareness, the importance of physical strength cannot be understated.

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This guide delves deep into the various aspects of strength training, examining how it benefits football players at all levels, from amateurs to seasoned professionals. We’ll explore common exercises, tailored training routines, and debunk widespread misconceptions about weight lifting in football.

key takeaways

Importance of Strength TrainingEnhances performance, prevents injuries, boosts endurance.
Factors Influencing LiftingGenetics, position, age, experience, and training regimen play a role.
Average Lifting CapacityVaries by position; significant differences across leagues and countries.
Case StudiesProfiles of famous footballers highlight the impact of strength training.
Balancing TrainingIntegration of strength and skill development is essential.
Myths and MisconceptionsEvidence-based clarification of common false beliefs.

The Role of Strength Training in Football

 Importance of Strength Training for Footballers

Importance of Strength for Football Performance

Strength training is indispensable for footballers aiming to elevate their game. Enhanced muscular strength translates directly to better sprint speeds, higher jumps, and improved endurance. This enables players to execute explosive movements and maintain peak performance for longer periods.

This physical prowess is crucial for both offensive actions, such as breaking away from defenders, and defensive tasks like contesting aerial duels. Stronger players can impose their physicality on the match, controlling the game’s pace and rhythm to their advantage.

How Strength Training for Footballers Contributes to Injury Prevention

The benefits of strength training extend beyond performance enhancement to crucial injury prevention. Integrating strength workouts in a footballer’s routine fortifies the body’s musculoskeletal structure. This boosts the robustness of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

This fortification is essential in a sport where physical clashes and rapid directional changes are routine. Effective strength training reduces the likelihood of strains, sprains, and muscle tears. This preserves player health and ensures more consistent availability for selection.

What Do Footballers Lift?

Overview of Typical Lifts Footballers Incorporate Into Their Training

Footballers’ strength training programs are comprehensive, encompassing a variety of lifts that target different muscle groups. These programs typically include exercises like bench presses, squats, deadlifts, and Olympic lifts. These are integral for developing core stability, power, and explosive strength.

Tailoring these exercises to a footballer’s specific needs ensures they are not only building strength but also enhancing their on-field capabilities.

Bench Press: Average Weight Lifted by Professional Footballers

The bench press is a staple in many footballers’ training regimes, primarily focusing on upper body strength. For professional footballers, the weights lifted can vary widely. They generally range from 70 to 100 kg depending on the player’s position and physical goals.

This exercise is crucial for improving upper body strength, which is essential for shielding the ball, maintaining balance during physical confrontations, and enhancing overall upper body resilience.

Squat: Common Variations and Weights Lifted

Squats are fundamental for developing leg strength and core stability. These are vital for footballers who need to jump, sprint, and change directions quickly. Footballers often engage in variations such as back squats, front squats, and split squats, with weights typically ranging from 100 to 200 kg.

These exercises enhance lower body power, a critical component for long-term athletic performance and injury prevention.

Deadlift: Importance and Average Weights Lifted

The deadlift is another critical lift in a footballer’s arsenal, known for its effectiveness in building core strength and lower body power. With average lifts ranging from 100 to 180 kg, the deadlift aids in muscle development. These muscles are involved in sprinting and jumping.

Its emphasis on the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, and lower back) is essential for footballers. These muscles are pivotal for explosive movements and overall stability.

Additional Exercises: Pull-Ups, Lunges, and Core Exercises

Beyond these primary lifts, footballers often incorporate exercises like pull-ups, lunges, and various core strengthening workouts into their routines. Pull-ups enhance upper body strength and endurance. Meanwhile, lunges focus on leg and core strength, critical for maintaining balance and stability on the pitch.

Core exercises, which can range from planks to advanced dynamic movements, are fundamental for linking upper and lower body strength. This ensures that players can maintain optimal performance throughout a match.

Why Footballers Lift Weights?

Strength Training for Footballers

Enhancing On-Field Performance

Weight lifting is crucial for footballers looking to boost their on-field performance. Regular strength training increases muscle power, which translates into faster sprints and higher jumps—key components for winning duels and reaching balls first.

Strengthening the muscles used in football helps players manage the physical demands of the game, allowing them to execute high-intensity actions more effectively and with greater frequency throughout a match.

Building Resilience Against Injuries

One of the primary reasons footballers engage in weight lifting is to build resilience against common sports injuries. Strengthening muscles and connective tissues through targeted exercises can greatly reduce the risk of injuries such as muscle tears, sprains, and strains.

Weight lifting also helps in enhancing joint stability, particularly in the ankles, knees, and hips. These are critical areas vulnerable to injuries in football.

Supporting Longevity in the Sport

Consistent weight lifting is integral to maintaining physical health and fitness over the long term, supporting longevity in a sport that requires high levels of physical exertion.

By regularly engaging in strength training, footballers can maintain muscle mass and bone density, which tend to decline with age. This practice not only prolongs their career but also ensures that their performance does not deteriorate rapidly as they grow older.

Contributing to Overall Athleticism

Beyond specific football skills, weight lifting contributes to a footballer’s overall athleticism. It enhances core stability, balance, and coordination—qualities that are beneficial across all aspects of play.

Improved core strength, for example, aids in better control and balance during the execution of skills, while overall muscular balance can prevent overuse injuries and contribute to more symmetrical movement patterns.

Factors Influencing Lifts

Position-Specific Training Requirements

The lifting regimen of a footballer is significantly influenced by their playing position. Defenders might focus on heavier weights to build the mass and power necessary for winning aerial challenges and tackling.

Similarly, midfielders often emphasize endurance and core stability to maintain high performance throughout the match. Forwards and wingers might concentrate on agility and explosive power, crucial for quick sprints and sudden changes of direction.

Individual Differences in Strength Levels

Each footballer’s strength training needs are unique, influenced by their baseline physicality, genetics, and previous training history. These individual differences necessitate personalized training programs that cater to the specific strengths and weaknesses of a player.

For instance, a player with natural speed but less strength may spend more time on resistance training to build muscle power, whereas a naturally stronger player might focus more on speed and flexibility training.

Age and Experience of the Player

A player’s age and experience level also dictate the nature of their strength training. Younger players may focus on building a general strength base and proper lifting techniques to set a foundation for more intense training as they mature.

Experienced or older players, on the other hand, might concentrate on maintaining muscle mass and strength while also incorporating more recovery-focused practices to prevent overtraining and injuries.

Training Regimen and Frequency

The intensity and frequency of a training regimen are crucial factors that influence how much and what type of lifts footballers perform. A well-planned strength training schedule aligns with the season’s demands.

Coaches and training staff must balance these factors to optimize training effectiveness without compromising the players’ performance or increasing the risk of injury.

Impact of Weight Training on Young Soccer Players

This bar chart, based on findings from the study “The Effect of Heavy Weight Training on Physiological Abilities of Soccer Players Under the Age 21 Years Old,” illustrates marked improvements in anaerobic capacity and cardiovascular fitness among soccer players.

impact of weight lifting to soccer player
ResearchGate, 2019

Notably, the average time for the 30-meter anaerobic capacity run decreased from 5.27 seconds pre-test to 4.67 seconds post-test. Similarly, cardiovascular fitness, measured by the Ruffier test, showed enhanced outcomes with average scores dropping from 11.93 to 10.50.

This visual representation underscores the benefits of heavy weight lifts in developing key physiological attributes essential for soccer players.

Case Studies: Lifts of Notable Footballers

Cristiano Ronaldo: Strength Training Routine and Lifts

Cristiano Ronaldo is renowned for his meticulous and intense strength training regime, which is a core component of his unparalleled athletic longevity and performance. Ronaldo’s routine includes a mix of cardiovascular exercises, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and targeted strength workouts.

He often focuses on leg exercises such as squats and lunges to maintain his explosive speed and incredible jumping ability. His dedication to maintaining an optimal physical condition highlights the significance of strength training in achieving and sustaining peak athletic performance in football.

Lionel Messi: Approach to Strength Training and Preferred Lifts

Lionel Messi’s strength training emphasizes agility, balance, and coordination, reflecting the unique requirements of his playing style that relies heavily on dribbling and sudden changes of pace.

While Messi may not lift as heavy as some other players, his routine includes bodyweight exercises, plyometrics, and targeted weight training focusing on enhancing his core strength and leg muscles. This approach ensures that his lower body strength supports his quick movements and resilience on the pitch.

Neymar Jr.: Examples of Lifts in His Training Videos

Neymar Jr.’s training videos often showcase a variety of strength training exercises designed to enhance his agility, flexibility, and explosive power. These include box jumps, deadlifts, and agility drills that focus on improving his acceleration and maintaining his ability to perform quick, sharp movements.

Neymar’s regime demonstrates how tailored strength training can complement a player’s skills and playing style, contributing to improved performance and injury prevention.

Practical Tips for Footballers

Importance of Proper Form and Technique

Mastering the correct form and technique in strength training is crucial for footballers to maximize the benefits of their workouts and prevent injuries. Proper form ensures that each exercise targets the intended muscle groups effectively and minimizes the risk of strains or other injuries.

Footballers should always start with lighter weights to perfect their technique before gradually increasing the load, ensuring consistent progress without compromising safety.

Gradual Progression in Weights

A gradual increase in weights is essential to continuously challenge the muscles and foster strength gains. Sudden increases can lead to overtraining and injury, especially in a sport as physically demanding as football.

Footballers should follow a structured program that carefully plans increases in intensity and volume, aligned with their individual fitness levels and competitive schedules. This approach helps sustain long-term development and peak performance.

Incorporating Variety in Training to Avoid Plateaus

To avoid hitting a plateau, footballers should vary their exercises, intensity, and volume. Incorporating different types of strength training, such as resistance bands, free weights, and bodyweight exercises, can keep the training stimulus fresh and challenging.

Variation not only helps improve all-round physical abilities but also keeps the training engaging, which is crucial for maintaining motivation throughout a long season.

How Much Should Footballers Lift?

Determining the Right Weight for Footballers

The appropriate weight for footballers to lift in strength training sessions varies significantly based on several factors including the player’s position, age, physical condition, and training objectives.

Typically, strength training should start at moderate loads, focusing on mastering technique before progressing to heavier weights. This ensures safety and effectiveness in the training process.

Guidelines for Progressive Overload

To achieve continuous improvement in strength, footballers should adhere to the principle of progressive overload. This means gradually increasing the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in their strength training regimen as their body adapts.

For example, a midfielder might begin squatting at 50% of their body weight and gradually increase this as their strength and technique improve.

Tailoring Weight Based on Positional Demands

The amount of weight lifted should also be tailored to the specific demands of the player’s position. Defenders might focus on lifting heavier weights to build the power needed for effective tackling and aerial duels, whereas attackers might lift lighter weights at higher repetitions to improve their speed and endurance.

This customization helps ensure that the strength gained is functional and directly beneficial to the player’s role on the field.

Monitoring and Adjusting Weights Regularly

Regular monitoring and adjustments are essential to ensure the lifting regimen remains appropriate as players develop and conditions change. Coaches and trainers should perform periodic assessments of players’ strength levels and adjust their programs accordingly.

This helps to optimize training, prevent plateaus, and avoid overtraining, which can lead to fatigue and injury.

Common Misconceptions of Lifting Weights

common misconceptions regarding weight lifting

Weight Lifting Makes Players Bulky and Slower

A prevalent misconception is that weight lifting will make soccer players bulky, thereby reducing their speed and agility on the field. However, this is not the case when strength training is appropriately tailored for soccer.

Instead of bulking up, the focus is on building functional strength and explosive power, which enhances a player’s speed and agility rather than diminishing it.

Weight Lifting Is Only for Men

Another common myth is that weight lifting is predominantly beneficial for male soccer players and less so for females. This misconception undermines the importance of strength training for all athletes, regardless of gender.

Strength training is crucial for female soccer players to enhance performance and reduce injury risk, just as it is for their male counterparts.

Young Players Should Avoid Weight Lifting

There’s a persistent belief that young soccer players should avoid weight lifting due to the risk of injuring themselves or stunting their growth. In reality, when supervised properly and tailored to their developmental stage, strength training can be extremely beneficial for young athletes.

It can help in building a strong athletic foundation, improving bone density, and teaching proper movement patterns.

Soccer Players Only Need Cardiovascular Training

While cardiovascular fitness is crucial for soccer players, relying solely on cardio and neglecting strength training can limit a player’s overall performance.

Strength training complements cardiovascular training by improving muscle endurance, overall strength, and resistance to fatigue, which are vital for late-game performance when the risk of injury is higher due to tiredness.


Strength training is indispensable in modern football. It not only boosts physical prowess but also fortifies players against the rigors of competitive play. By incorporating tailored gym routines, footballers can significantly enhance their game and extend their careers.

Whether you’re an aspiring player or a seasoned professional, integrating a comprehensive strength regimen is pivotal for football success.


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