This weekend we can look forward to watching some ridiculous throws, catches and bone-crushing tackles. Although football is a sport of instinct and you need natural talent, there are ways to improve your game off the field and in the gym. Being able to lift and run to be bigger, stronger and faster is what will separate the good athlete from the great athlete.
Training for a sport is a lot different from training to just lose weight or to just add muscle. Training specifically for football is targeted around lower rep training for maximum power and strength output. Since plays generally last 4-8 seconds, running for 30 minutes on a treadmill or on the elliptical isn’t the greatest option for physicality.
Football players must be big and strong – yes. But they should also be some of the most functional athletes in the world. They have to be able to jump, change direction, run, tackle and get tackled. Follow these workout guidelines to get you on your way to developing some speed, power and strength, and developing an athletic physique.
With all of the explosive movements and heavy lifts you’re about to endure; ensuring you get a proper warm-up in every day is essential for maximum performance as well as injury prevention. This will differ from your normal 5-minute job around the track or on the treadmill. This will get your heart rate up, increase blood flow and improve elasticity within the joints. Here’s some great exercises to try.
☐ Start in push-up plank position and move left leg forward into lunge position
☐ Lift left hand off the floor and turn left part of torso towards the ceiling
☐ Reach your left hand as far back as possible to open up the troublesome chest and shoulders then return to push-up plank position
☐ Repeat with right side[/su_list]
Sets and Reps: 2 x 10 each side
✓ High Knees
☐ Start by driving the knees up toward the chest as quick as possible and drive the foot back into the floor
☐ Alternate legs in a jogging motion[/su_list]
Sets and Reps: 2 x 10 yards
✓ Butt Kicks
☐ Proceed directly into butt kicks after the high knees by still jogging and pulling with the hamstrings the heel up to your butt
☐ Pop the foot back down to the floor and alternate legs[/su_list]
Sets and Reps: 2 x 10 yards
Some of the most troublesome areas for many athletes include a tight chest and weak back which relates directly to shoulder instability and pain. Strengthening the lower traps to keep the shoulders in a healthy position is a great way to start off the workout especially to get a good a good mind-muscle connection to improve posture and other lifts.
☐ Bend over at 90 degree angle and move arms with thumbs up to a “Y” position overhead
☐ Staying at same angle, extend arms with thumbs up straight out to the side forming “T” position
☐ Finally, start bent over, squeeze shoulder blades together and pull elbows back
☐ Externally rotate hands up and slowly lower back down forming “W” with arms[/su_list]
Sets and Reps: 2 x 10 each
Strength and Power
Finding the right balance between strictly hypertrophy training and just strength training is the key to developing a body that can brawl with the best athletes in the world. You won’t find NFL studs doing preacher curls or single-leg calf raises. Sticking to compound movements in the 4-8 rep range is the tried and true method that wide receivers to defensive line will use to build better football bodies.
A sample base workout would look something like this:
☐ Squats – 5 x 5
☐ Push Press – 4 x 6
☐ DB Jumping Lunges – 4 x 8 each leg
☐ BB Incline Bench Press – 3 x 5 (use towel on chest to explode off chest quicker)
☐ Trap Bar Rows – 5 x 6 (keep body at about a 45 degree angle)
☐ Hang Cleans – 4 x 5 (focus on speed and explosiveness)
Conditioning & Speed
With the majority of the workout done the last thing to hit is the conditioning portion where things like footwork, jumping and running come into play. You can lift all the weight in the gym but if you can’t move your muscle around, you’re useless. Follow this sample circuit for some new found speed, explosiveness and agility.
☐ Lying Sprints – start by laying face first on the ground then pop up, and sprint to the finish
☐ Hill Sprints – A variation of just flat running will work the quads work a little harder for greater power output
☐ Back Pedal to Sprint– Start by back pedaling 10 yards then open up the hips and sprint for remainder
☐ Broad Jumps – Feet shoulder width apart and jumping straight out as far as possible
☐ Speed Lunges – Keep good form like with normal lunges but speed up the reps to help open up the hips
Sets and Reps: 5 x 30 yards (sprints)/ 5 x 20 yards (jumps/lunges)
As you can see, training for football or any other sport is a complex feat. Don’t go into your training with hesitation and guessing. Know your plan of attack the moment you walk in the gym and execute it with everything you’ve got.