As we move into the semifinals, the competition is heating up at the World Cup. These players from across the globe are the best of the best, displaying enviable athletic prowess thanks to hours of daily training.
Most spectators can only dream of being an Antoine Griezmann or Lionel Messi, but drawing inspiration from the World Cup athletes for a few essential weight training principles might just kick your exercise regimen into high gear. To step up your training game, follow the tips below.
More than anything, strength training gives World Cup athletes the sheer force to get the ball down the field. Building muscle also protects the body from the ongoing stress of the game, so the best athletes are wise not to neglect this aspect of their exercise regimens.
You can apply the same principles to your own workout. Lunges with dumbbells can help build targeted muscles in the legs and lower back. You can strengthen the hamstrings — essential for kicking power — with step-up exercises. Don’t forget the upper body either: dynamic exercises like kettlebell swings can help you build the strength you need for fast, spritely movement that throws your opponents off their game.
Developing the core is key to overall athletic performance, as a strong torso keeps the body moving for longer and protects the spine from impact. A strong core also adds power to every motion, and it’s what allows World Cup players to kick the ball with such explosive force.
Basic core exercises like planks are a staple for soccer players seeking a six-pack. Instead of a simple crunch, try bicycle crunches, which give you more impact for your effort. For your weight training routine, incorporate exercises like goblet squats, which develop your core while your body is in motion. And of course, engage your core during your deadlifts and bench presses, as this will help your overall strength, as well as target your abdominal muscles.
Being a top athlete is all about having control of your body, and that includes an overall sense of balance. Great players rarely lose their footing, thanks to hours of practice with dexterous footwork. As players pass, shoot, and dribble the ball, they often end up balancing on one leg, or quickly adjusting position if they come into contact with another player.
Balance exercises are a great addition to your routine, as they activate stabilizer muscles, help you build better form as you train, and improve your overall performance for any sport you play. You can develop better balance by adding some simple exercises to your routine, like one-leg dumbbell squats or one-leg deadlifts. You can use less weight than usual, and instead focus on form and control. You may want to try this exercise on a balance ball for an extra challenge.
World Cup athletes can easily sprint between five and 10 miles over the course of a single game. If you want to get in shape like the top players, you need to supplement your weight training with endurance fitness. Some fitness routines actually recommend interspersing sprints with weight reps. You may want to wear a heart rate monitor to make sure you’ve reached 50-70% of your maximum heart rate for moderate exercise, and 70-85% for intense intervals. Top athletes actually spend about 80% of their exercise time at low intensity, and 20% at a high-energy level. You don’t have to push yourself the whole time: alternating between sprinting and 30-second rests, or between slow jogging and fast bursts, helps build stamina.
It’s great to draw inspiration from the World Cup players, but use caution as you amp up your routine. If you experience pain or injury while exercising, remember that our sports doctors at New York Bone & Joint Specialists treat all levels of athletes. Whether you’re a professional or a weekend warrior, our orthopedic specialists can get you back in the game as soon and as safely as possible.