• White Facebook Icon
  • White Twitter Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White LinkedIn Icon

Disclaimer. Site Map. Privacy Policy
©2020 by Jonathon Reid

  • Jon Reid

Soccer Strength Training WITHOUT WEIGHTS!?

Recently Chelsea FC manager Maurizio Sarri created a bit of a raucous in the strength and conditioning community with comments regarding his stance on weight training for soccer players:

“…Today he will have strength training — but we don’t use any weights… It’s all natural work that we do in the gym. Nobody does weights. I’ve never seen a player with a weight on the pitch.” Maurizio Sarri

Cue furore amongst strength and conditioning coaches.

Soccer, generally speaking, is not a sport that embraces weight training. You’re unlikely to see heavy lifts, barbells clattering, chalk flying and people screaming in soccer strength and conditioning sessions. And this is perfectly okay.

Maurizio Sarri didn’t say the Chelsea team don’t do any strength training, just that they don’t use weights. There are many different types of strength training and many ways to elicit physical adaptations. Strength and conditioning isn’t just heavy squats, deadlifts and presses — it’s possible to strength train without using barbells and dumbbells.

Whilst I do encourage soccer players to use weights as part of their strength training (as I’ve previously discussed here), there are ways soccer players can improve strength, speed and power without using weights.

Furthermore, following a strength and conditioning for soccer program that doesn’t include weights is still vastly superior to not doing any strength and conditioning at all (which, unfortunately, is the preference of many soccer players and coaches).

So, instead of adding to the furore, or lamenting the opinions of Maurizio Sarri, I thought I’d put together a strength and conditioning for soccer program that doesn’t include weights with the hope that:

  1. Some soccer players can benefit from this, should they, for whatever reason, not partake in lifting weights.

  2. It demonstrates that strength, speed and power can be developed without the use of weights.

Soccer Strength Training Program (With No Weights)

Quick Overview

  • Bodyweight strength exercises, plyometrics and sprinting speed will be the focus of this program.

  • As with any program, athletes should ensure they are competent with remedial versions of each movement before attempting more advanced versions. In particular for this program — because of the plyometrics used — players should ensure they have the requisite strength, stability and technique to jump and land safely.

  • Not all exercises in the movement menu are used in the session examples — exercises are cycled in and out according to progress, the focus of the individual, time available etc.

Movement Menu

Squat: Bodyweight squats, squat jumps

Hinge: Hip thrusts, glute bridges

Push: Push Ups

Pull: Chin ups, pull ups, inverted rows

Single leg: Reverse lunges, step ups, rear foot elevated split squats, single leg hip thrusts, rolling pistols, pistol squats

Sprint: Free sprints, prowler pushes, hill sprints

Jump: Squat jump, countermovement jump, broad jump, single leg hops, hurdles

Throw: Med ball launches, rotational throws

Example Sessions

Measuring Progress

It’s important to measure the player’s progress and collect some feedback. For this no-weights program, measurements and feedback could be collected every 8 weeks or so in the following areas:

  • Chin Up Strength (weighted chin ups x 3)

  • Chin Ups to Failure

  • Push Ups to Failure

  • Vertical Jump height

  • Broad jump distance (1 jump and 3 jumps)

  • 10m sprint time

  • Subjective assessment of movement quality

  • Player and coach’s subjective assessment of match performance and physical well-being.


Strength and conditioning coaches need to be adaptable when working with teams or players who won’t, for whatever reason, use weights. The method used to improve strength, speed and power may be determined by the player and coach’s preferences. By having many tools in your tool box you can help players improve their strength, speed, power and match-day performance, which is what it’s all about.