Avoid heavy & tired legs on the football pitch - part 1

Jacob Strøm

Jacob Strøm

Performance specialist. Cand.scient. Sports Science. 25+ certificates from EXOS, Barca Innovation Hub etc.

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If you want to be a faster and more explosive footballer, who also has the strength and energy for intense actions at the end of your matches, it is super important that your legs are not heavy! But unfortunately we see a lot of people making the same mistake over and over again, and we've been there ourselves...
Avoid heavy and tired legs

Many people see strength training as the same no matter what the goal is. However, there is a huge difference between training for muscle growth and training for better performance!

One of the biggest mistakes many people make is training to failure. But why and what to do instead. Learn more about it in this post and learn how to avoid heavy and tired legs out on the football field.

Why should we do strength training?

Before we start talking about what to do instead of training to exhaustion/failure, it is important that we first understand why we need to do strength/performance training.

Many people put all weight training in the same box: strength training. But strength training can be done in many different ways, with different purposes and benefits.

If you want to be better on the track, performance training should help you get better - not worse and heavier.

On the court, it's important that you can generate high power - quickly and explosively. It is important that your legs are fresh and that they feel light so that you can do many high intensity actions.

With specific performance training, you can improve your ability to generate power quickly and more explosively, but it's important that you do it right!

It's about producing more power!

If you want to be more explosive, jump higher, have "faster feet" and generally be more athletic, it's your ability to generate more power we need to work on! 

Power = force x speed.

That is, maximum power must be found somewhere where you can generate as much power (lift as much weight) as possible, but at the same time move the weight quickly. Most research actually suggests that this happens at 30% of 1RM. That is, at a fairly light resistance, and typically somewhat lighter than what people normally lift in the gym.

You also know that after only 3 reps you start to lose speed in your lifts, almost regardless of how much weight you lift. Remember, our goal is to lift "heavy" fast! So losing speed is not a good thing.

Therefore, a large part of our training, especially when we want to be more explosive, should consist of 3 reps or so.

Failure training makes us tired and heavy...

If we want to generate high power, both in the weight room but also on the field, it is important that we are fresh! 

When we train to failure or exhaustion, as mentioned, we lose a lot of speed and we no longer stimulate the body to become faster. At the same time, a greater amount of waste accumulates, making our legs heavy and slower.

This happens both immediately after training but also in the long term. If you've tried to train close to exhaustion, as a bodybuilder typically will, you probably know the feeling of shaky legs that can barely walk down the stairs after exercise. We must avoid this at all costs if our goal is to become more explosive.

This heavy and shaking sensation stimulate the body to build more muscle mass, not to become more explosive!


If you train to failure for large parts of your workout, you are likely to slow down because you are no longer stimulating your body to become more efficient in force development. In addition, you will find that you accumulate far more waste products from training, which will make them heavier and slower.

Therefore, your training should consist of fewer reps, typically less than 5. Choose a weight around 60-80% of 1RM most of the time. Take long breaks so you can reproduce high power - typically 2-4 minutes. And finally, choose exercises that are highly transferable to your game on the court.

Click here and read part 2 of "avoid heavy and tired legs".

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