“Yo Andy, how do I get big legs like Bale and Ronaldo?”
This question popped in my DM’s a few days ago. Here’s some advice:
Tip #1 Figure Out Why You Want Bigger Legs:
Is it to be stronger? Is it to jump higher? Or is it to impress the girl you have a crush on? Those are all very different reasons why soccer players want bigger legs, and most likely every reason will result in a slightly different way you train. If you want bigger legs to improve your speed, you’re also going to have to work on sprint technique. If you want to jump higher, strength and plyometrics will be key. And if its for aesthetic reasons, hypertrophy work will be your best friend. Figure out why you want to train, before you decide what to train.
Tip #2 Choose the Right Exercises:
If you want bigger legs, it is no secret you’re going to have to do a ton of lower extremity exercises. In general, it is best to train between 6-12 reps for muscle growth, 5-8 reps for strength, and 1-5 reps for power. For most players, the two exercises I recommend the most are the squat and the deadlift. Generally speaking, the squat is going to strengthen your quads, hips, and hamstrings; while the deadlift will strengthen your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Additionally, try single leg variations of each movement. This is helpful for two reasons:
1) Soccer is a single leg sport, so you should train that way
2) It is a great way to increase load without any equipment
Also, don’t forget to train all parts of the leg, including your groin and outside hip! Exercises like adductor raises and resistive side steps can help you improve strength in those areas, as well as reduce your risk of injury.
Tip #3 Eat & Sleep Right:
Fun fact: your muscles don’t grow when working out in the gym. They grow when you’re asleep. You also need to ensure you’re eating and sleeping enough to allow your muscles to develop. You’re likely going to have to eat a little more than usual, as building muscle mass requires additional energy. You need protein and carbohydrates to ensure you have enough energy to work out and add muscle mass. You also need to drink enough water to allow your body to physically recover.
One Last Tip:
Getting legs like Ronaldo and Bale isn’t always possible. Some people naturally do have larger muscles in certain areas than others. So, comparing yourself to the pros, whose literal job is to stay fit and play soccer, isn’t necessarily the best thing to do. Instead, compare yourself to yourself! Increasing in size isn’t the easiest thing to do, nor should it necessarily be the focus of your training. But if it is something you’re considering, know that it will also likely result in you being a stronger, faster, more resilient athlete- all of which will help your on-field performance.
Summary: If you want bigger legs, ask yourself why. Make sure you’re doing some sort of squat and deadlift. Be sure to eat & sleep enough. That’s it 🙂