How to Make a Lower Body Gym Plan as a Footballer:
Hope you’re having a great week and crushing your goals as always!
I often get asked how to build a lower body gym plan as a footballer.
I wish I had a simple answer to this question.
But as you know (and as I’ve said many times before): every single individual is different, is in a different part of the season, is in a different stage of their career and has different goals.
So, unfortunately, I can’t give you a simple blanket statement answer, but as we’ll get into more in depth into this article, I will show you and guide you exactly on how to make a lower body gym plan for yourself as a footballer.
Your goal will be to tailor it to you unique characteristics: your position on the pitch, training history, injury history, where you are in the season, goals etc.
As you see, this makes it impossible to give everyone the same exact gym program, but I’m sure you’ll learn enough here to make your own.
In today’s article, we’re specifically going to take a detailed look on how to make a lower body gym plan as a footballer.
I’m going to walk you through the most important factors to look at when choosing what exercises to go for, when to do them and more importantly why to do them!
And, at the end, I’ll also provide a little surprise for you… and I know you’ll like it.
Just make sure read through the whole article, and don’t skip around!
I’m watching you! 🙂
Let’s get started!
1. Figure Out Your Goal and Your Why:
Before you get started with any lower body gym training plan, it’s crucial to identify your goals and understand the reasons behind training your lower body in the gym.
This will be a key factor to dictate how you structure your individual gym plan and it will help you be much more effective and efficient with your training.
Be Specific With Your Goal:
You have to be very specific with yourself and ask yourself what the most important thing is for you to work on at the moment:
Are you mainly looking to develop your speed and explosiveness?
Are you a younger player that needs to build some mass in order to have a solid foundation before moving to explosive work?
Or maybe you’re a more experienced player that has a “rich training age” and you are already very strong and stable, but you just want prolong your career in the game and prevent injuries, so you can remain on the pitch?!
That’s currently where I’m at homie 🙂 !
Longevity is so important and very under looked when it comes to programming your gym work, but you have to take it into account!
But, of course, age must be factored into your self-analysis and what you want to do in the gym (in terms of exercises, and overall volume).
The simple truth is that you can’t train the same way you did as a 20-year-old when you’re a 35-year-old…
As I always talk about, you must self-analyze yourself properly!
You also want to look at your position, strengths, weaknesses, training history, past injury history and where you are in the season in order to build your individual lower body workout plan as a footballer.
Strengths vs Weaknesses:
As a winger, it would make sense to work on your ability to be explosive and perform quick changes of direction.
Whereas as a center back, you might want to develop more raw strength to be stronger in 1v1 duels with your striker and win more challenges on corner kicks.
Also, looking at some of your weaknesses is a good indication and basis to build a lower body gym plan as a footballer.
For instance; if you’re a short, 16-year-old number 10 (Center Attacking Midfielder) trying to break into your club’s first team, you might want to implement some hypertrophy training and stability work into your plan to gain some muscle mass and have the confidence to go into challenges with grown men.
Men’s football is very different from youth football…
And as a smaller player, you need to make sure you build a solid lower body foundation to not get shoved off the ball in every 50/50 challenge.
On the other hand, if you’re a super tall and strong center back and you’re winning every header and/or 50/50 duel, building more muscle might not make the most sense.
In this case, you’d want to work on your agility and quick/sharp movements in the gym as part of your lower body work.
This would mean implementing plyometrics consistently in order to make up for your higher center of gravity and still be able to compete with shorter, faster and trickier wingers or strikers.
The most significant predictor of injury is past injury.
This means that the muscle or joint that you’ve injured before is much more likely to get injured again.
This is where prehab (prehabilitation) comes into play.
If you’ve had a couple of hamstring pulls over your career, you need to do hamstring strengthening exercises every single week, as well as hip and quad mobility.
This should be obvious, but I’ve seen plenty of players overlook injury prevention and end up picking up the same niggles every single season…
And I know exactly why…
Because it’s not sexy to do injury prevention work! It’s not “Instagram or TikTok” Worthy :/
Here are a few of the primary goals you would want to focus on when making a lower body gym plan as a footballer:
Building Your Foundation:
Developing lower body strength and size forms the foundation for speed, power, and injury prevention.
This would mean focusing on compound exercises such as: squats, deadlifts, lunges, and step-ups at a higher rep range in the beginning with more sets to build the muscle tissue.
In order to build strength and power, you need muscle tissue. Without the “right amount” of muscle tissue, you can’t build those “fast twitch fibers.”
Plyometrics and Explosive Training:
To enhance your explosiveness and speed, you need to include plyometric exercises such as box jumps, broad jumps, jump squats and jumping lunges.
These exercises help improve your reactive strength and power output, translating into faster sprinting, acceleration/deceleration, and jumping abilities on the field.
If you want some ideas on plyometric exercises for footballers, check out this YouTube Video:
Flexibility and Mobility:
Maintaining optimal flexibility and mobility is crucial for injury prevention and fluid movement on the field.
Like I always say, movement efficiency and quality is the most important factor as a footballer. Moving efficiently means “curating” any imbalances and past injuries (that you may have had in the past) so you can move with quality and have less energy leaks, so you can move fluidly and almost “effortlessly.”
When you have the proper mobility and you have great range of motion through all of your joints, you will be able to instantly produce more force and have more endurance.
Think about it…
If you drive a car or have driven before..
You have to get your car re-aligned every couple months to make sure it’s driving properly and it isn’t shifting lane to lane when you take your hand off the wheel.
It also helps the car with better gas mileage because the car becomes more efficient.
It’s the same thing with your body!
If your body is more aligned and you have efficient biomechanics, you won’t have to “spend as much energy” doing specific movements.
If movement patterns can be better, players are likely to have a higher neuromuscular control of their lower limbs and core (Impellizzeri et al, 2013), leading to less energy leakage and better transference of force throughout the body.
Your goal should be to implement lower body flexibility and mobility in your workouts and also as part of your daily routine as a footballer.
I personally do at least 30 minutes of mobility a day for my lower body.
Again, this should be tailored to your injury history and specific needs; but it’s key for any player to improve their effectiveness on the field.
Try Out This 30-Minute Mobility Routine for Yourself:
Balance and Stability Training:
As you know, football involves tons of changes in direction, which makes stability and balance a key component of the game.
A player changes direction every 2-4 seconds during a game and between 1200-1400 times per match.
Including exercises that challenge your balance and stability, such as single-leg movements, like lunges, Bulgarian split squats and single leg RDL’s can improve your overall body control and minimize your risk of injury.
Although we’re talking about leg work here, stability and injury prevention also involves having a strong core.
This is the ultimate bridge between your upper and lower body. Your core is your energy conductor. All of your energy is conducted through the core and transmitted through the limbs (arms and legs).
It needs to be solid and have no energy links in order to prevent injuries and enhance your overall athleticism as a footballer for sprints, jumps and changes of direction!
Now, keep in mind that these are all “specific goals.”
Of course, you might individually lean towards one more than another, but you want to implement all parts of each one of these goals into your lower body plan as a footballer, as they’re all equally important.
Finally, you need to look at yourself as a player…
Be as critical as you possibly can be.
If you don’t think you can properly self-analyze your game, reach out to coaches’ and/or teammates who can be honest with you.
Let them give you and overall evaluation of your game to see where you can improve (from a physical standpoint).
Of course, this is true for the physical aspect, as we’re discussing lower body workouts, but it’s also relevant for the technical and tactical aspects of course. But, you may just want to discuss a couple of things at a time, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Hiring a coach to handle your lower body workout plan can also be very helpful and save you a lot of time.
He/she can do specific physical tests on you to see where you’re lagging physically.
They can also watch your game and analyze your strengths and weaknesses.
From there, they can properly make your lower body plan as a footballer.
2.Build Around Your Game Schedule and The Specific Timing in Your Season:
This is an instrumental part of your lower body gym program.
You want to consider your full schedule: the number of team training sessions you have on a weekly basis during the season, the timing of these sessions, your game schedule, as well as your school/ work hours.
(We’ll get back to these specifics in the last part with the sample workout plans.)
The most important thing to remember here is to always prioritize quality over quantity.
The last thing you want to do is to overtrain, as you’ll increase the risk of picking up injuries.
However, you don’t want to under look your lower body muscles either and be “too cautious” because you’re constantly scared your legs will be “heavy.” The only way to improve your performance and prevent your legs being “heavy” is to properly prepare and train your legs. Your legs need to be prepared for the ‘stressful demands of game.’
That’s obviously where proper recovery comes into play.
“Ric, what’s the most important part of recovery?”
If you’re not sleeping properly; you don’t need ice baths, yoga, warm baths, a sauna and any fancy recovery supplements or recovery devices.
During the season, I would rather you have 1-2 high quality & high intensity lower body sessions where you’re working with max intent, rather than 2-3 sessions where you’re just going through the motions.
With all that being said, at minimum, you should do at least one lower body session in the gym per week.
Like I said, you need to be training movements that are going to improve you on the pitch…
Bulgarian Split Squats:
Explosive Trap Bar Deadlifts:
Here’s a list of my favorite leg exercises for footballers if you want to check it out, these can help you build your own program 😉
Just remember it’s all about building up your body so it gets used to more intense workouts.
If you’ve never done leg workouts in-season and you’re new to the gym, you’re going to feel some fatigue with the first few sessions.
That’s completely normal!
The goal is to start super easy.
Maybe do only bodyweight workouts for a month before moving into weighted movements.
When getting into weighted movements, work for 2 sets instead of 3-5.
Progressive overload is the goal!
You might be shocked at me saying this, but, sometimes, LESS IS MORE!
Continue to add sets and increase the volume week over week until your muscular and nervous system adapts to new loads.
Your body will adapt and you won’t feel it as much the day after the workout.
Eventually, you’ll be lunging, deadlifting and squatting much more than you ever expected.
Main Difference Between Lower Body Training In-Season & Off-Season:
You want to keep in mind that building your lower body program will be very different in season than during the offseason.
During the offseason, you typically have more time available to dedicate to at least 2 leg sessions a week in the gym.
And more importantly, you don’t have team training or games on the weekend, which means you can afford to have heavy legs the day following a workout.
Now, this also means you can really focus on specific goals and put maximum effort into your leg sessions.
This is very important if you’re looking to improve your speed and explosiveness.
These will involve heavy lifting with exercises like squats and trap-bar deadlifts, as well as explosive football-specific movements such as single & doubled legged broad jumps.
Obviously, these take a toll on your body, but they’re incredibly beneficial when done with proper technique and speed of execution.
Finally, pre-season is a very tough period to get extra gym sessions in because you have a lot of team training, but in the beginning of pre-season, it can be very worth it because off-season and the first couple weeks of pre-season is where you stress your body the most to build your ultimate foundation and base for the season.
All in all, the off-season is the most important time to put your body to the ultimate test to build for the upcoming season.
Pre-season is about maintaining those benefits and that progress so that you stay fresh and perform to impress your coach and get that starting position for the first game of the season.
Overall, you want to keep in mind that planning your leg workouts will depend on your weekly schedule (team training, games, job/school) and the stage you’re at in the season (off-season, pre-season, in-season).
Like we’ve talked about many times before, the most important thing is that you’re fresh for your games so you can perform at your highest level.
Proper Planning is Key:
One thing that I highly recommend to all my 1-on-1 Online Clients is sitting down on a Sunday night and planning out your entire week!
This can help you set a proper blueprint for the week and will allow you to smash every one of your sessions with max intent.
When you are planning, you want to be as specific as possible.
What time will you get to the gym?
What will you train?
Where will you train?
What is the workout you are doing?
This will help you avoid procrastination.
When everything is laid out for you, it’s so much easier to execute.
From one week to another, things may pop up in your schedule, which means you have to be flexible and find the right times to integrate your lower body workouts.
Here’s my personal method when it comes to planning my week and day:
3) Leave No Stones Unturned and Be Ruthlessly Consistent:
Of course, lower body workouts are individualized depending on your needs, goals and situation.
You’ve probably noticed that from what I’ve been saying since the beginning of this article.
Every human is different; you have different psychology and physiology.
You also have a different position, different age, different injury history, different strengths, different weaknesses, etc.
Players always ask me to provide gym programs on IG or by email…
But it’s very hard to provide a one-size fits all program to a player…
It’s not that easy!
Find Exactly What You Need to Do to Improve But Don’t Let Things “Go Missing”:
Of course, some players will need to focus on developing speed, others on stability, others on strength, others on preventing injuries…
But, no matter the player, you still need to integrate all parts of every specific goal that we spoke about into your lower body plan as a footballer.
We mentioned these specific goals in the first part: building the foundation, plyometrics/ explosive training, stability work, injury prevention etc.
You might be the strongest player on your team but if you can’t translate that strength to the pitch, it makes no sense.
You need to do plyometric work to transfer the strength you’ve developed in the gym onto the pitch.
You may have never picked up an injury in your career, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to do some injury prevention exercises.
If you’ve never had an injury before, focus on specific areas of the body that footballers consistently injure:
The ankle, the knee, groin/adductor, your hips, hamstrings.
Have no idea what to do?
Here is a video on How to Have Strong Knees:
You may want to work on your speed because it’s your weakness: but that doesn’t mean that you should ONLY do plyometrics and heavy squats or trap bar deadlifts.
You need a bit of everything to stay “balanced” but of course, you need to focus most of your efforts on the things that matter most.
You also can forget about that stability work for your smaller, connector muscles to stay strong and steer clear of injury.
Because the most important thing is for you to stay on the pitch.
Remember, you’re only as strong as your weakest link!
A footballer’s gym routine must be multi-facetted so when you’re building a lower body plan as a footballer, you need to consider everything!
You can’t have tunnel vision and just focus on ONE single goal.
You need to have a well-rounded program to meet the demands of the game, while putting a major focus on what you need to specifically work on.
This may be a hard balance to strike for you….
This of course comes with experience, but investing in a coach is also a great way to fast track your progress!
4. There is No Perfect Program:
Consistency, Hard & Smart Work is the best program!
Finally, I want to say consistency is your best friend when it comes to building your lower body gym plan as a footballer (and for anything related to training and improving).
Don’t spend ages searching for the perfect program either!
With all the information out there, you can easily fall in the trap of paralysis by analysis, and you don’t want that.
Procrastination is the enemy of progress, so the goal is to build your lower body gym plan and stick to it.
Many people “program hop” because they think they can always find a better and sexier program but that’s just your mind playing tricks on you!
The most important factor for progress is consistency.
I would rather you be consistent on a “so-so program” for 6 months rather than hopping on and off a new/sexy/shiny program every single month.
Because then you have no “pattern” and rhythm in your training and there is no way to measure your “progressive overload.”
Stop Program Hopping:
Whatever you do, please don’t be one of those people who changes your program every 2 weeks…
You will never get the best out of your program and you’ll never see true results like this.
Trust me, I know, because I’ve been there!
The goal is to keep the same program for at least 3 months in order to see true-long lasting results and progress.
Make sure you are measuring your progress and consistently progressively overloading each and every week.
Assess the program carefully after 3 months and see how you’ve progressed, and how you feel about it..
That’s why simple physical tests may be very helpful because you can go off of the numbers.
But the main thing is, are you improving on the pitch?
If you don’t know how to accurately measure and rate your program, you need to reach out to some experts.
And then based on what they say, you can adapt it.
How to Improve Your Gym Plan as a Footballer Every Couple Weeks:
You want to aim for progressive overload, but there’s no need to chase new “personal records” each week.
As I always say, you’re not a bodybuilder, so it’s okay to measure numbers, but no need to chase PRs!
The goal is to chase performance improvement on match day!
Obviously, you should still aim for progress to make sure your program is working but do it in a “footballer specific way.”
If you typically did your 2-4 sets of box jumps on a 20cm box, maybe try to progress to 25cm within 4 weeks time.
This will also show that your lower body plan is working…
Because when you build your lower body strength with squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc; generally your vertical jump (box jump) will improve!
Stick with that same initial height and perfect your technique and execution!
Eventually, your body will get used to it and you’ll be able to add that stimulus with extra height.
The same goes for compound exercises like the squat or trap bar deadlifts..
The goal is to add more weight to the bar every 2-4 weeks.
As long as your technique and execution stays sharp and fast!
You can also add a set with the same initial weight, or reduce rest times (of course, depending on your goal)…
That’s also considered progressive overload!
As long as you’re progressing and pushing your body, you’re going improve and get the results you want, trust me (as long as you stay consistent and locked in)!
The most important thing is to always listen to your body…
If your legs are feeling too heavy after a hard week of training/match, maybe don’t make your leg workout harder than the previous week…
In that case, I’d even trim down the workout load and maybe reduce the weight or sets of your typical exercises.
Everything has to do with listening to your body and giving it what it needs!
Just remember to be flexible and adapt based on how you feel and always prioritize quality of movement and listen to your body to make sure you’re as fresh as possible on game day.
That’s the major key!
5) Sample Off-Season AND In-Season Lower Body Gym Plan
For the sake of the article, I will provide you with a specific on how to build a sample lower body gym plan as a footballer which focuses on all goals that we’ve spoken about.
This includes improving explosiveness and speed, for instance, but also injury prevention and more functional work.
Also, for the in-season sample gym plan, I’m going to consider you have 3 team training sessions a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and a game on Saturday, which is probably a realistic average for most of you.
In that sense, I’m gonna provide you with ONE workout you can perform each week which would represent the bulk of your leg work.
On team training days, I’ll consider you’re doing a pre-hab program which gets your lower body ready to go and healthy.
This also applies to the off-season (before individual ball work or small group trainings).
IN-SEASON LOWER BODY GYM PLAN :
Tuesday – Lower Body Workout
|Band activation||1||10 reps per movement||/||Activation|
|Trap-Bar Deadlift||4||6-10 Reps||1-3 Minutes Rest||Strength|
Bulgarian Split Squat/ Box Jumps
|3||4-8 reps each leg/ 6 reps Box Jumps||60-120 Seconds||Explosiveness|
|Superset:||3||10-20 reps / 60 seconds each leg||60-120 Seconds||Injury Prevention/ Stability work|
|Superset :||3||15-40 seconds each leg/ 10-40 reps Each Leg||60-120 Seconds||Injury Prevention|
OFF-SEASON LOWER BODY GYM PLAN :
Tuesday – Lower Body Workout 1:
|Band activation||1||10 reps per movement||/||Activation|
|Clean and Press||4||2-6 reps||2-3 Minutes Rest||Explosive Strength|
Sled Push Sprints/ Broad Jumps
|3||15-40 meters with Max Speed / 6 reps||2-3 Minutes Rest||Explosiveness|
|Superset : Reverse Nordics / Copenhagens||3||10-30 Reps / 10-40 seconds each leg||60-120 Seconds||Injury Prevention/ Stability work|
Friday – Lower Body Workout 2:
|Activation||1||10 reps per movement||/||Activation|
|Barbell Front Squat||4||2-8 reps||60-120 Seconds||Strength|
Sled Pull/ DB Squat Jumps
|3||15-20 meters / 4-10 reps||60-120 Seconds||Explosiveness|
|Superset : Leg Curl Machine / Medicine Ball Groin Squeeze||3||6-12 reps / 15-30 seconds||60-120 Seconds||Injury Prevention/ Stability work|
|Superset : Supine Leg Raises / Calf Raises||3||5-20 reps each leg / 10 reps||60-120 Seconds||Functional work|
Of course, please take all these rest times, sets/reps with a grain of salt.
Like I already said, I can’t provide a specific lower body gym program for all of you, as each player has individual needs, experience levels in the gym, strengths and weaknesses, etc.
Maybe this workout I provided would be too easy for some of you, and way too advanced for others.
This is especially true if you’ve never worked out legs in the gym before.
In that case, focus on mastering your own body weight first. Go check out my Youtube for full follow along bodyweight leg workouts you can perform from your home today!
However, you can use these sample workouts as an inspiration or basis to make your own lower body plan as a footballer for the off-season and in-season.
As I mentioned already, consistency is the most important. Don’t fall in the trap of over planning your workouts and procrastinating.
Just go out there, do the work, learn and adapt!
Generally speaking, you want to consistently hit your legs in the gym as a footballer so you can be prepared for the stressful demands of the game.
As we’ve spoken about, it’s instrumental to work on your lower body to improve explosiveness, speed and overall athleticism.
As we spoke about, you want to prolong your career, play as long as possible, and avoid injuries at all costs.
At the end of the day, you can’t improve as a footballer if you’re not out there on the pitch to help your teammates get the 3 points on the weekend! The best & almost “only” way to actually improve as a footballer is to play more games.
The stronger your legs are, and the more often you train your lower body in the gym (in a smart and hard way), the more likely you will prolong your career.
Putting everything into consideration, I want you to remember that the most important element of this whole article is consistency and discipline.
Like I often say, the most important part of being a footballer is excelling with the basics and being able to repeat the “boring stuff” on a daily basis.
If you’re the type of person who must change up their workouts every other day and can’t stick to one plan, I highly recommend you work on your discipline.
It’s one of the most important things to have in your locker to reach the top level, trust me.
Go give this article a read if you feel like you need to work on your discipline to enhance your career:
If you’re able to consistently stick to a leg gym plan – and any gym plan for that matter – for a few weeks, and implement progressive overload as we discussed, you’ll improve as a footballer : that’s a guarantee.
However, I want you to keep in mind one last thing before the end of this article : never push yourself too hard in the gym!
It’s not about beating your PR every week, or training to your absolute limit every week in the gym – especially in season.
Remember you need fresh legs for your team training in order to impress your coach and become an indispensable starter for your team on the weekend.
This is why you also need to recover as hard as you train!
Eat, sleep and hydrate right every single day to make sure you can be at 100% for your next training, game or gym session.
Using the sample workouts I provided for you is a great starting point for you, but please keep in mind that you should strive to have a more individualized plan based on the stage of your career, your position and your specific goals.
If you want to take your individual work more seriously and reach the next level, I highly recommend you apply to my 1-on-1 coaching program.
I mean, look where I’ve taken Pablo Sabbag’s worth on Transfermarkt in 2 years:
Apply here for the chance to work with me 1-on-1:
I’ve helped a ton of other players reach the pro level and improve their career as footballers.
You can check out who I’ve worked with here:
If I believe you’re a good fit, I can do the same for you!
If you can’t afford it, I can give your Free Access to My Brand New App to improve your ability on the field.
Try out the RicFit Academy App for 7 Days Free!
Overall, like I always say, consistency and discipline are the key factors which will determine your success as a footballer!
Any workout is better than no workout at all…
So don’t fall in paralysis by analysis and get lost in all the information there is out there!
Try a workout plan, stick to it for a while, be consistent, work with maximum intent and you will see the results!
Track your progress and adapt it to your goals on a regular basis!
Go out there and crush it my friend, we’re in this together and I’m looking forward to hear about your progress!
And if you don’t progress and you need individualized help, your boy is always here 🙂