Effects of Lower-Limb Strength Training on Agility, Repeated Sprinting With Changes of Direction, Leg Peak Power, and Neuromuscular Adaptations of Soccer Players

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Hammami, M, Negra, Y, Billaut, F, Hermassi, S, Shephard, RJ, and Chelly, MS. Effects of lower-limb strength training on agility, repeated sprinting with changes of direction, leg peak power, and neuromuscular adaptations of soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 32(1): 37–47, 2018—We examined the effects on explosive muscular performance of incorporating 8 weeks strength training into the preparation of junior male soccer players, allocating subjects between an experimental group (E, n = 19) and a matched control group (C, n = 12). Controls maintained their regular training program, but the experimental group replaced a part of this schedule by strength training. Performance was assessed using running times (5, 10, 20, 30 and 40 m), a sprint test with 180° turns (S180°), a 9-3-6-3-9 m sprint with backward and forward running (SBF), a 4 × 5 m sprint test with turns, repeated shuttle sprinting, repeated changes of direction, squat (SJ) and counter-movement (CMJ) jumping, back half-squatting, and a force–velocity test. Electromyographic (EMG) activity of the vastus lateralis (VL), vastus medialis (VM), and rectus femoris (RF) muscles was recorded during jumping. Two-way ANOVA showed significant gains in E relative to C during the straight sprint (all distances). Scores of E increased substantially (p ≤ 0.01) on S4 × 5 and SBF and moderately on S180°. Leg peak power, SJ, and CMJ were also enhanced, with significant increases in EMG activity. However, repeated-sprint parameters showed no significant changes. We conclude that biweekly strength training improves key components of performance in junior soccer players relative to standard in-season training.

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