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Big soccer legs can refer to the build of a player like Manchester United star Wayne Rooney. Chunky calves and hamlike thighs help Rooney fight through a tangle of defenders to score or display an improved vertical leap to head the ball in. Goalkeepers in recreational soccer are also said to have a вЂњbig legвЂќ if they can boom the ball past the midfield line or farther. Whether you play in the field or in goal, you can work to increase your leg musculature and power to effectively help your soccer team.
Set up a strength-training program in the offseason, after a brief rest of one or two weeks from the end of the regular or postseason. Work to bulk up your legs before the next regular soccer season starts, at which point you will need to switch and focus more on skills work and cardiovascular conditioning.
Perform the Bulgarian squat, also called the barbell single-leg split squat, the dumbbell Romanian deadlift and physioball single-leg curl to strengthen your legs and entire lower body if you have access to a gym or your own free weights and equipment. Complete three sets of eight to 10 reps of each exercise in the offseason, two sets of six to eight in the preseason and two sets of five in-season, recommends elite goalkeeper coach Timothy Mulqueen in вЂњThe Complete Soccer Goalkeeper.вЂќ These challenging exercises strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes.
Jump or hop up the stadium steps if you lack gym access, with two legs and then singled-legged, recommends coach Debra LaPrath in вЂњCoaching Girls' Soccer Successfully.вЂќ Continue with tuck jumps and V-jumps on the soccer field, as well as body-weight lunges and wall sits. Add plyometric activities including hops over the ball, front and back, and side to side, to further develop big legs. As with the free-weights exercises, complete two to three sets of eight to 15 repetitions as your leg strength increases.
Hone your calves, a source of power as you load your kicking leg on a backswing, by adding a calf raise to a dumbbell squat, recommends coach Greg Gatz in вЂњComplete Conditioning for Soccer.вЂќ You can go for one set of 15 reps. You can also perform simple calf raises throughout the day, when on the telephone, waiting in line or other moments.
- Make strength training a cornerstone of your soccer fitness program to counteract the potential harmful effect of hard running, which can lead to a loss of lean muscle mass. Excessive cardio training can paradoxically reduce the muscle mass in your legs unless your work assiduously to build muscles back up and consume a diet including adequate protein.