Soccer is one of the most intense and demanding sports out there. With 11 players constantly chasing the ball across a 110-120 yard field, you need endurance, strength, and a whole lot of leg power to stay competitive throughout a 90-minute game.

With the recent Team USA Women’s World Cup victory, how can we not be inspired by the most popular sport in the world and to team’s accomplishment and physical prowess?

We reached out to 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 to get his tips for developing quad definition akin to a soccer pro’s. 

“Soccer players have large quads because the sport demands powerful leg muscles,” says Liston, “Add these exercises to your routine, and you’ll feel the effects of stronger legs 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.

Note: 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).
  • 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

Precede these exercises with a dynamic warm-up that includes skipping, shuffling and short, explosive sprints.

Exercise Reps Sets
Dumbbell High Pull (superset with backward broad jump) 8 2-4
Backward Broad Jump 8 2-4
Step Down 5 per leg 2-4
Speed Lunge 8 2-4
*Beginners do two sets of each; after six sessions, progress to three sets; after six more sessions, progress to four.

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