Much of a footballer’s work is done on one leg – striking the ball, tackling, sprinting and jumping. To cope with these stresses each leg needs to be strong, stable and mobile.
The knee takes the brunt of these forces – if that’s not sturdy other muscles have to pick up the slack. The hamstring and adductors usually shoulder the extra responsibility and eventually they crack under fatigue.
More after the break
To avoid this breakdown the quads, hamstrings and glutes need to be strong to ease the stress on the knee.
Powerfully built athletes like Manchester City’s Micah Richards need lower-body strength to carry their weight and help with acceleration and deceleration.
To meet the athletic demands of the Premier League, Sam Erith, City’s head of sports science, has designed a programme to help Richards control his power.
Included in this programme is a resisted lunge with dumbbells – as demonstrated by Richards, and explained by Erith in this video.
“Micah is a top player and he’ll hit some very high top speeds. We want his quads, hamstrings and glutes to help him slow down, not just the knee joint because it’s a pretty short career if everything is getting smashed through the knee joint without support from the muscles around it,” Erith told FFT.
“You may look at this exercise and think that he’s not lifting heavy weights like a bodybuilder, but he doesn’t need to.
“He’s a very powerful player and it’s more about having the stability to control the power he produces.”
Richards admits he was sceptical at first, not wanting to beef up in the gym, but has reaped the benefits of Erith’s dynamic workouts.
“I’m a big boy and I thought coming up in the gym was going to make me bigger and slower, but it’s been the complete opposite to that,” said the defender.
“The last six months I’ve been doing this stuff everyday and I’ve not had an injury since so I can say it’s working – definitely.”
Get more from your workout by taking this exercise into you gym sessions.
Micah is an ambassador for If U Care Share, a charity that encourages young people to discuss their problems: www.ifucareshare.co.uk
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Switch on your glutes for 90 minutes: Part one
Switch on your glutes for 90 minutes: Part two
Fire up your hips for action: Part one
Fire up your hips for action: Part two