Lower-body strength is crucial for optimum performance on the football pitch. It is the strength and power in the legs that can propel a footballer forward with a sudden burst of pace. Tackling, guarding the ball and remaining balanced whilst in possession all require strength and conditioning work, and this circuit training regime should deliver the desired results if it is integrated into your weekly fitness schedule.

Lunges with raised rear leg

Rest your trailing foot on a raised platform, and then drive forwards into a deep lunge, until your forward thigh is parallel with the ground. Make sure you keep your back straight as you lunge, and they slowly return to your starting position. Repeat this 15 times, and then switch legs for another 15 repetitions for a complete set.

Ski jumps

Assume a squatted position, as if you are skiing at speed down a steep piste. Whilst maintaining the squatting position, jump 90 degrees to the left, and then back to your starting position. You should then jump 90 degrees to your right, before jumping back to your starting position once again. Jumping each way and returning to your original position should be considered as one repetition. Complete 15 repetitions for a full set.

Seated leg extension

This exercise requires a seated leg extension machine – found in most well-equipped gyms. For the best results, try to avoid completely stretching your legs, and maintain one smooth motion as you perform each lift. Keep your back straight at all times, and don’t lift more than you’re comfortable with. Perform 15 lifts for one set.

Standing squats

Take a kettlebell or dumbbell in each hand and raise them so they are level with your shoulders. Gradually bend your knees and lower yourself into a squatting position. You should take care to keep your back as straight as possible at all times, and don’t bend your legs at an angle less than 90 degrees. As your strength builds, mix things up a little by varying the distance at which your feet are apart. Perform 15 repetitions to complete the set.

Raised squats

Start with a stepping platform that is the right height for you, and rest one foot on it, with the other foot planted firmly on the floor. With one leg raised, slowly lower yourself into a squatting position, keeping your back straight and making sure that your knees never overreach your toes. Perform this exercise 15 times, and then again with the other foot raised to complete the set.

Hamstring curls

You will need a hamstring curl machine – which can be found in most good gyms and leisure centres. When you first start this particular exercise, make sure that you err on the side of caution when it comes to selecting the level of resistance. Unless you have worked on your hamstrings recently, they will be relatively tight, and exerting them too much could result in a nasty pull or tear. Complete 20 lifts for a complete set.

Abductor exercises

Use an abductor machine at your gym or leisure centre to perform these exercises. You will need to slowly pull your legs together, and hold them there for two to three seconds. Make sure you always stretch and warm up before attempting abductor exercises, and select a weight that is appropriate to your current capabilities. Perform 15 repetitions to complete the first set.

Pulsing squats

Begin this exercise in a squatted position, with your feet shoulder-width apart. The key to success with this exercise is to keep your movements short and quick. Push up by about four inches, and then immediately return to your starting position. You can add to the difficulty of this exercise by using increasingly heavy kettlebells as your lower-body strength develops. Perform 30 pulse squats for a complete set. However, make sure you stretch out fully before and after to prevent cramping.

If you are just starting out with your lower-body circuit training programme, you might want to decrease the number of repetitions for each exercise by as much as 50 percent. As your fitness and strength build, gradually increase the number of reps in line with what feels comfortable to you. Making this circuit training programme part of your weekly training regime should give you the lower-body power and strength to improve your all-round game.