By Calum Strang

Lead Strength & Conditioning Coach for Livingston FC U18s


For optimal performance in football, players must do everything they can to gain an advantage over their opponent, but that doesn’t stop on the pitch. Strength training helps footballers become the best version of themselves, making them stronger, faster, fitter and reducing their chances of injury. A fully comprehensive strength and conditioning programme should focus on a variety of exercises focusing on varying muscle groups and match related actions.


Inspired by the Euros and looking to get an advantage on the pitch? Calum Strang, Lead Strength & Conditioning Coach for Livingston FC U18s, answers key questions to you get started.




“What are some KEY EXERCISES I should be doing and why?”


Truthfully there’s a lot of exercises that you should be doing as a footballer, but here are some that can be often overlooked or executed wrong:


Compound Lifts



This might sound a little boring but the BEST exercises you can do are the basic compound lifts. Fundamental lifts such as Barbell Back Squats and Trap Bar Deadlifts are essential, and are my two favourites. These exercises build overall lower body strength and train the body to move in unison, as a result these movements transfer into the sport . Squats mainly target the quads and glutes, while trap bar deadlifts focus on the posterior chain, including the hamstrings, glutes and lower back. 



Unilateral Work



Due to the mechanics of running, it is more common that players will have to produce force off one leg more often than two, making unilateral movement very important. Single leg exercises like lunge variations and single leg deadlifts are crucial. These exercises will strengthen muscles in the legs such as quads, hamstrings and calves whilst also improving balance and coordination, key for dynamic movements in football.



Plyometrics and Isometrics



This specific area of training does not focus on maximal strength but focuses more on tendon capacity, health and force transmission. Plyometric exercises involve explosive movements like jumping and bounding, which enhance the tendons ability to store and release energy efficiently. This dynamic loading strengthens the tendons, improving their resilience to high impact forces. Isometric exercises involve holding a contraction without movement, such as a wall sit. These exercises increase tendon stiffness, which is key for stability and force transmission. By incorporating both of these, footballers can improve tendon elasticity, strength, and overall durability, reducing the risk of injuries and enhancing athletic performance, ensuring joints such as the ankle and knee are prepared to handle the static and dynamic forces during competition.



“What are some UNDERRATED AREAS for aspiring footballers?”



Aspiring footballers often overlook muscle groups and exercises that are crucial for injury prevention and overall performance. These include:



The Hamstrings



Hamstrings are the most injured muscle in professional football, there is already an emphasis on these as a result however I think they need even more work. Nordic Curls, Romanian Deadlifts, Sprinting and Seated Hamstring curls are all great options for these.