How to Get Stronger Legs for Soccer

Strong legs are an absolute must-have for all soccer players. Not only do they provide you with the strength and endurance you need to play your best, but they play a critical role in shooting and passing while also helping you to stay injury-free. 

Strengthening Your Legs Takes Time

Strengthening your legs is something that doesn’t happen overnight. It can take weeks or even months to build your leg muscles. Even after you have built up your leg muscles, you still have to work to maintain their strength. 

All of the exercises we describe here can be used whether you are working to make your legs stronger or you are trying to maintain their strength. 

Leg Strengthening Exercises That Require No Gym Equipment or Weights 

There are a number of leg strengthening exercises that you can do almost anywhere because they don’t require any gym equipment or weights. We have highlighted some of our favorite exercises that use your own bodyweight to strengthen your legs. 

#1: The Wall Sit 

This exercise is exactly what it sounds like – you will “sit” with your back to the wall. It helps to build strength in your quads and glutes. 

To perform this exercise do the following:

  1. Step approximately a foot away from the wall
  2. Lean backwards until your back is laying flat against the wall 
  3. Slowly bend your knees while keeping your back to the wall (you will look like you are sitting in an invisible chair)
  4. Hold this position for one to two minutes 

Things to keep in mind while performing this exercise:

  • Keep your hips straight. They should be parallel to the knees. 
  • Knees should be bent so they are positioned directly over the toes/feet. 
  • Shifting your feet side to side will help you find a secure stance that allows you to stay in the seated position the entire time

#2: Walking Lunges 

Most of us are used to performing stationary lunges while working out. However, if you walk while lunging you can target the muscles in the calves, hamstrings, glutes and quads. 

To perform a walking lunge do the following:

  1. Start with both feet together 
  2. Step forward with your left foot 
  3. Bend the knee of your left leg while dipping the right knee towards the floor 
  4. Slowly strengthen the bent left knee while slowly and carefully bringing the right leg forwards 
  5. Step onto the right foot 
  6. Bend the right knee and dip the knee of the left leg to the floor 
  7. Repeat this several times – try to go for at least 60 seconds, take a 20 – 30 second break, then repeat the exercise 

Things to keep in mind during this exercise:

  • Don’t try and step too far forward as that could put too much strain on the muscles in your legs and knees 
  • Try to keep proper form while performing this exercise – straight hips, knees over the toes 
  • Holding a soup can or small weight while doing the walking lunges can make this exercise more challenging 

#3: Squat Jumps 

Squat jumps really work your entire body from head to toe. When doing this exercise, you will not only build strength in your calves, glutes, hamstrings and quads, but you will build strength in your core and enhance your balance or coordination. 

To perform a squat jump do the following:

  1. Stand with your legs slightly apart – legs should be hip-width apart and your toes should point outwards 
  2. Gently bend your knees so you perform a traditional squat 
  3. At the bottom of the squat, start to push down on the floor with your feet and perform a high, powerful jump 
  4. Twist the body halfway while jumping 
  5. Land with “soft knees” – soft knees refers to landing with the knees slightly bent 
  6. Perform the same move but twist the body the other direction 

Things to keep in mind during this exercise include:

  • Don’t keep your legs too far apart when standing 
  • Don’t try to jump super high at first. Work on building up the power to twist from side to side while landing in a squat. 
  • Always land with slightly bent knees. Landing with straight legs could cause you to become injured. 

Other Exercises You can Do Without Gym Equipment or Weights 

Some of our other favorite leg exercises that don’t require gym equipment or weights include:

Leg Strengthening Exercises That Use a Resistance Band 

Using a resistance band while working out can help you enhance the strength of your leg muscles. The following are some of our favorite leg exercises you can do with a resistance band. 

#1: The Fire Hydrant 

This exercise works to target some of the smallest muscles in your legs. 

To perform the fire hydrant do the following:

  1. Tie the resistance band around your legs. The band should be sitting slightly above your knees. 
  2. Kneel down so that you are in a tabletop position – knees bent, straight arms and a flat back 
  3. Keeping your hips to the ground, lift the knee of your left leg 
  4. Bring the knee back down 
  5. Repeat several times on the left leg then switch and do it on the other side 

Some things to keep in mind include:

  • Keep your hips square to the floor. You do not want to shift or move your hips. 
  • Don’t bring the knee too high when lifting it. The knee should go no higher than hip level. 
  • The looser the resistance band is wrapped around the legs, the less resistance you will get. As you get stronger, tighten the band for more of a challenge. 

#2: The Kickback 

This is a great resistance band exercise that works to not only strengthen your legs, but your core. 

To perform kickbacks so the following:

Tie the resistance band together so it forms a circle 

  1. Place the circle around your feet – the band will go over the top of the foot and down the sides 
  2. Kneel in a tabletop position – the same position described above for the fire hydrant 
  3. Move your left leg in a backwards motion – almost as if you are kicking backwards 
  4. Bring the leg back into your body 
  5. Repeat the kicking motion again 
  6. Repeat several times (approximately 10 to 15 times) then switch to the other side 
  7. Try to complete 3 sets of 10 – 15 kicks on both sides. 

Things to keep in mind during this exercise include:

  • Pushing against the floor with your hands will help you remain stable while “kicking” the leg 
  • Don’t kick too hard or too powerful. It is more of a gentle kick backwards than a powerful kick. 
  • Keep the foot flexed when kicking backwards 
  • Keep your hips square to the floor and try to avoid moving your body or swaying when kicking your leg 

#3: The Side-to-Side Walk 

Walking may sound easy, but this will challenge you so that you are working both the inner and outer leg muscles. 

To perform the side-by-side walk do the following:

Create a circle with your resistance band 

  1. Step into the circle of the resistance band and pull the band up your body so that the band sits on your thighs a few inches above your knees 
  2. Facing forward, take several steps to the side 
  3. Step out with the right foot, then bring the left foot next to it. 
  4. You will want to bring the second foot inwards, but not all the way inwards – try to keep the band so that it is straight and taut and doesn’t fall down 
  5. Repeat this several times to one side, then switch and go the other side 

Things to keep in mind during this exercise include:

  • Don’t try to take too big of a step
  • Make sure you are lifting your feet when stepping and not dragging your foot 
  • Each step should be approximately shoulder length apart 
  • Keep your hips forward 

Other Exercises You Can Do With a Resistance Band

Other exercises you can do with a resistance band include:

  • Hip raises – lay on your back, lift your hips in the air, wrap the resistance band around your thighs just above the knees
  • Clamshell – similar to the fire hydrant, but you are laying on your side and moving the top knee up and downwards 
  • Backwards standing leg kicks – wrap the band around your ankles and kick your leg backwards

Leg Strengthening Exercises That Use Gym Equipment 

There are a number of great pieces of gym equipment that can help you strengthen and build the muscles in your legs. 

The following are some of our favorite gym machines to use that can specifically target the muscles in your legs (and many times other muscles throughout your body!):

  • Treadmill 
  • Rowing Machine 
  • Leg Press – a machine that has you lay backwards and you push a weight upwards with your legs 
  • Leg Extension Machine – you sit and bend your knee back and forth. This is great for building isolated muscles in the front and side of the thighs.
  • Inner/Outer Thigh Machine 
  • Seated Leg Curl Machine 
  • Sled Drag – a weight is wrapped around a rope that is tied around your waist, you pull the weight almost like it is a sled
  • Bench Step-Ups 
  • Bench Presses in Squatted Position 

Gym equipment is great for building the muscles in your legs. However, it can be risky if you don’t know what you are doing or you are using improper form. To avoid injury and make sure you are targeting the right muscles, we recommend scheduling a session with a personal trainer. 

Working with a personal trainer, even for a single session, can help you better understand how to properly use the equipment in the gym. A personal trainer can also help you learn proper form. Exercising with proper form can prevent you from getting injured. 

Building strength in your legs will take some time, but it is absolutely worth it if you want to be the best soccer player you can be. Creating a personalized leg strengthening routine using these exercises is a great way to build your leg muscles.