"Soccer players have large quads because the sport demands powerful leg muscles," says Jim Liston, MEd, CSCS, former strength and conditioning coach for Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy and co-founder of Competitive Athletic Training Zone (CATZ, catzsports.com). "Add these exercises to your routine and you'll feel the effects after just eight sessions."
- Dumbbell High Pull/Backward Broad Jump. Place your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Drop into a squat position, allowing the dumbbell to fall toward the floor between your knees, then jump up explosively as you pull the weight to shoulder height with the force generated from your legs. Land softly and sink back to the starting position. Perform eight reps, then switch hands and do eight more.
Immediately follow this movement with a set of backward broad jumps, where you jump backward on two feet and land softly with slightly flexed knee and hip joints. Perform 12 of these jumps.
Step Down. Stand on your right leg on a stool or bench. Slowly squat down with that leg as low as you can under control, reaching out in front of you with your left foot and extending both arms directly overhead as you lower yourself. Come out of the squat quickly, then squat down again, this time reaching out to the side with your left foot as far as you can. Squat down a third time, extending your left leg behind you and opening your right hip (remember to extend your arms overhead with every squat). That's one rep. Repeat for five reps, then switch legs.
Speed Lunge. Side shuffle two steps to your right, bend at your knee and hip and touch the ground with your right hand (just outside your right foot). In one fast motion, jump up, then shuffle two steps to the left, bend at the knee and hip and touch the ground with your left hand (just outside your left foot). Perform this movement eight times to each side.
A quad-kicking routine:
1. SUPERSET: 2-4 reps total
Dumbbell High Pull: -- 8 reps per side
Backward Broad Jump -- 12 reps
2. Step Down; 2-4 sets, 5 reps per leg
3. Speed Lunge: 2-4 sets of 8 reps per side
Precede these exercises with a dynamic warm-up that includes skipping, shuffling and short, explosive sprints.
*Beginners do two sets of each; after six sessions, progress to three sets; after six more sessions, progress to four.