Adopting a Weight Training Program Key to Enhancing Performance

Weight training – also called strength or resistance training – not only can improve soccer players’ strength and athletic performance, but also can prevent injury.

What is weight training?

Weight training means adding resistance to your body’s natural movements to make those movements more difficult, and help muscles become stronger.

Benefits of weight training

Weight training increases fitness by:

  • Increasing muscle strength and endurance
  • Enhancing the cardiovascular system
  • Increasing flexibility
  • Maintaining the body’s fat within acceptable limits.

Weight training can be an important component of a fitness program, regardless of your age or gender.

Weight training equipment

You can use free weights or weight machines. Free weights are less expensive than weight machines and are more easily adapted to smaller and larger body types. Machines are safer than most free weights because the weight is more controlled. If you use free weights, select a set of barbells or dumbbells and a weight bench for the upper extremity and barbells for the lower extremities. For all lifting, remember to use a weight belt. Some people feel weight gloves offer better grip strength; however, they are not necessary. Good athletic shoes providing firm floor traction are a must.

Starting a weight training program

First, establish goals for your program. Decide if you want to obtain good muscular tone and cardiovascular endurance, to build muscle strength in a particular muscle group to improve sports performance, or to rehabilitate an injured muscle.

To improve muscle tone and cardiovascular performance, exercises should be done at least four times a week for approximately 20 to 30 minutes a session. You can take very short rest periods (30 seconds or less) between exercises. This program generally consists of 15 to 20 repetitions of an exercise for each major muscle group.

To build strength, exercise the muscle group that you want to strengthen until fatigued. This program incorporates fewer repetitions than circuit training. For example, do three sets of repetitions, but only 8 to 10 repetitions per set, with a longer rest period of 60 to 90 seconds between each exercise. This routine may be done every other day, but not as frequently as a circuit program because the fatigued muscles need longer to recover.

To rehabilitate an injured muscle, your program will be similar to the circuit training program of higher repetitions and lower weights. However, a rehabilitation program, unlike a circuit training program, focuses on working the injured muscle group.

An exercise professional, such as a certified athletic trainer, sports physical therapist, exercise physiologist or strength and conditioning coach, can help design a program suitable for your needs.


Always check with your physician before beginning a weight training program, particularly if you are over the age of 30 or have any physical limitations. If you have musculoskeletal problems, see an orthopedist to ensure that the program will not aggravate those problems.


To avoid injury when weight training:

  • Wear appropriate clothing
  • Keep the weight training area clean and free of debris
  • Stay well hydrated while lifting
  • Get adequate rest
  • Eat sensibly
  • Stretch after warming up, but before lifting
  • Always use a spotter when doing bench presses and squats
  • Lift with a buddy, whenever possible.

Dr. Edwards “Inside The Crew” on CD 102.5FM

You can now catch Dr. Edwards each Sunday on Crew SC’s weekly 60-minute feature show, Inside Crew SC, which returns in 2015 on a new location on the radio dial. On Sunday nights at 7:00 p.m. ET on CD102.5 FM.

Neil Sika and longtime Dwight Burgess are set to provide reaction and analysis surrounding the club, complete with interviews from current Crew SC personnel and opposing players and coaches. As the official team physician for Crew SC, Dr. Edwards will give a health a rehab report each week as the last segment of the show. Check it out by clicking here. You can listen to past and current show clips.

Heat Illness & Warm Weather Training

As training for the fall soccer season heats up and hot temperatures continue, coaches, parents and players should remember the basics of temperature related illness. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious medical conditions resulting from the body’s inability to cool itself and maintain fluids. Risks factors for heat illness include both elevated humidity and temperature. Compared to adults, young soccer players are at increased risk of temperature related illness because they sweat less than adults and, consequently, are less able to cool their bodies.

What is heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

Heat illness is divided into two main categories: heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion occurs when the core body temperature rises to between 100.4° F and 104° F. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include chills, nausea, mild confusion, headache and collapse. If a player experiences any of these symptoms during a game or practice, he or she should drink cold fluids, move to a cool location, and consider cold fluid immersion if the core body temperature reaches 104°.

Heat stroke, on the other hand, is a true medical emergency. Heat stroke occurs when the core body temperature rises above 104°. Symptoms include abnormal mental status and confusion, with or without profuse sweating and loss of consciousness, leading to seizure and possible coma. The final stage of heat stroke results in multisystem organ failure and potentially death. In heat stroke, both the severity of the temperature increase and its duration are of great importance. If a player experiences any of these symptoms, he or she should seek medical treatment as quickly as possible. Treatment will likely include ambulance transportation, cold IV fluid administration, cold immersion and supportive care.

Prevention measures key to decreasing heat illness

Prevention of heat related illness is the central component for avoiding catastrophic problems. Soccer coaches and parents should adjust practice times to the coolest period of the day. Drinking water and fluid replacement drinks often and wearing appropriate clothing for warm temperatures are essential. Practices should allow for acclimatization to occur and gradually increase training times in extremely hot weather. Parents need to recognize that the presence of other illnesses that cause fever also increase the risk of heat illness for up to three to five weeks.

If you see a player collapse during a hot soccer practice or game, first check for pulse and cardiac abnormalities. If a steady pulse is recognized, you should assume a heat related illness. Having an awareness of heat illness prevention is far better than resorting to treatment measures. Avoiding practice conditions that place players at risk of heat illness is key to maintaining peak athletic participation for the fall soccer season.

Read more from Dr. Edwards on the Orthopedic One site.