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Include the RFESS in your soccer fitness

In my recent article, One Leg at a Time I described developing leg strength one leg at a time is more functional and preferable for soccer athletes since most of soccer activity involves generating speed and power off one leg anyway. One of the best ways to generate single leg strength is to perform the rear foot elevated split squat (RFESS). It's one we use all the time and is championed by many of the most recognized strength coaches in the industry.  One of our contributors, Chris Phillips, ATC, CSCS, owner of Compete Sports Performance & Rehab in Lake Forest  uses it all the time with his soccer athletes.The RFESS or sometimes known as the bulgarian split squat, contributes two main benefits. It provides a tremondous amount of leg strength while simultaneously  improving balance and flexibility. Perhaps a greater benefit for soccer athletes that use this in their fitness program is that you can load up the weight on this exercise with a decrease risk in back injury, when you compare it to a leg press, where a lot of pressure can be placed on the back.

 Here are some key points in doing the RFESS:

  1. Use a regular bench to elevate your foot. If you find that your quads are little too tight, then find something lower.
  2.  Place a pad underneath the knee that is elevated.
  3.  Do this exercise first with you only your bodyweight. If you use a bar, first position the bar on your shoulder just as you would if you were to perform a regular back squat.
  4.  To perform the exercise, have the athlete lower the rear knee towards the ground.
  5.  Make sure the rear knee does not go passed the hip.
  6. Just like a lunge or squat, keep your core tight throughout the entire exercise.

The reps and set range are vary depending on what your are working on. If you are looking to developing strength, you can keep the range around 8-10 reps for 3 sets. If you are looking to develop power, then lower the reps to around 6 per leg and increase the sets to 4-5. 

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