Many people see the gridiron as a test of strength, and they are quite correct. While there are many attributes that make up a good football player, strength is probably the single most important of them, with running speed being a close second. No matter what position you play, you will have to have the strength to push past large people and to resist the hardest hits that they can give.
Top Ten Strength Exercises For Football Players:
With this in mind, we would like to present our top ten favorite strength exercises for football players. While there are many good ways to train strength, we have tried to focus on those methods that are well-suited for football training. These exercises are presented in random order since all of them do their jobs equally well.
1. Sled Training
This is one of the oldest and most reliable methods of football strength training. You just take a sled and load it down with weight so that you can practice pushing and pulling it around. The most popular form of the sled is called a “Prowler,” and that is probably your best bet.
You can use this thing to train both speed and power at the same time. The pushing motion accurately simulates the feeling of having to push your way through a large person and helps a person to develop speed by pushing their limits. You can use less weight to train your running speed while also giving your legs a good burn, or you can use maximum weight and go for pure strength.
It’s kind of like running with weights on your ankles so that you will be that much faster when the weights are removed. However, we don’t recommend the use of ankle weights because it is too likely to cause ankle injury. We do, however, recommend the use of the sled to develop explosive pushing and pulling power.
Deadlifts are one of the best ways to target a lot of muscle groups at once. They also help a person to develop the kind of explosive power that is needed for a full-contact sport like football. You see, your muscles consist of two different kinds of fibers. One of them is used for sustained, steady power while the other is used for explosive power. Since you will rarely be standing still when playing football, that second kind is obviously more important.
To do a deadlift, start with the barbell on the floor. Approach the barbell so that the bar itself is right over your feet. It should not be touching your shins. Now bend over and place both your hands on the barbell. Your hands should be outside of your legs, but not too far away. Now flatten your back out as you come back up to a standing position. The barbell should slide up your legs without fully resting on them.
3. Romanian Deadlifts
The Romanian deadlift is a version of the deadlift, but it deserves mentioning because it is meant to work a different set of muscles. While the regular deadlift works the upper legs, abdominals, and shoulders, the Romanian deadlift focuses on the hamstrings. In case you don’t know, those are the big muscles in the back part of your upper leg. This exercise will also work the glutes, and both of these muscles are essential for a football player.
Approach the barbell as you would for a deadlift, then bend down and grab it as normal. Once you have returned to a standing position, you will thrust your hips backward and slide the bar back down your legs. The bar should stop about two inches below the knee before you jerk it back up with a powerful and explosive motion.
As you do this, make sure that your knees maintain a slight bend, even at the full extension of the exercise. Try to keep your back more or less straight, bending only at the hips. It is also important that your hips go straight back without moving up or down.
4. Sandbag Carries
You couldn’t ask for a more simple exercise than this. You just take a bag of sand and walk around for a while. The purpose of this exercise is to get your body used to a greater amount of weight so that it will be easier to move when the weight is removed. This is also a very realistic exercise, as it simulates many common carrying tasks that a person might need to do.
It is very important to have a good grip on the bag so that the stress of the carry is absorbed by your core and posterior muscles rather than your hands. The last thing you want to do is risk injury to your hands. You can choose to carry it in front of you with both hands, or over your shoulder with one hand. If you really want to go hardcore, you can put a sandbag over each shoulder. When doing this kind of weighted walking, make sure that you are not being forced to walk in an unbalanced way, as this is hard on the joints and bones.
5. Side Lunges
This is a simple exercise that requires no added weight. Instead, this exercise uses the weight of your own body to train the muscles of your hips and groin area. Having a strong core is very important, as most motion starts from the core. These muscles are also very important for stability, which is kind of important when large people are trying to knock you down.
To do this exercise, just stand with feet spread normally, then step out to the side with one foot. As you do, you lower your body by bending the knee of the foot that just stepped out to the side. Keep your back as straight as possible while doing this, and keep your hands in front of you. Repeat this motion, alternating between left and right.
6. Box Squats
The box squat is an interesting variation on the squat, and it is meant for a specialized purpose. This is an isolation exercise, but it’s not meant to isolate one muscle group. It is meant to isolate all the muscles of the back, including the muscles in the backs of your legs. That line of muscles that go up the back is called the posterior chain, and that’s what you will be working with this exercise.
Put a box underneath you, in such a way that you can comfortably sit on it with one corner between your legs. Now get a barbell and lay it across your shoulders, placing it behind your head. Try not to spread your feet too wide, as it will be tempting to do that with the corner in front of you. Sit down on the box, maintaining a straight back and a vertical shin.
It is very important that your shin is vertical so that it does not take the weight off the posterior chain. Now stand back up. As you lower your body, make sure that you control the fall. Don’t use gravity to cheat, as you are only hurting yourself. Now stand back up without moving your feet and repeat.
7. Long Jumps
Jumping can be very important in the game of football, as it allows you to cover a longer distance in a short amount of time. Of course, a jump usually involves a slight recovery delay, and so most players will use a long jump at the end of their run. You also might use a jump to avoid a tackle, and that means that other players may jump to intercept your jump. When that happens, the person with the longest jump can often outdistance their pursuers.
This is where you can take a little bit of advice from a different kind of athlete. Long jump athletes have many specific training methods that are meant to isolate this one skill, and there is nothing wrong with borrowing those methods. Focus on running jumps rather than standing jumps, as these are more likely to help you out.
8. Barbell Step-Ups
This exercise is meant to build the strength of the hip flexors and develop powerful upper leg muscles. By combining weighted walking with stair walking, you can get a workout that is sure to build leg muscles like no other. To do this exercise, you start by finding a stool or box that you can use as a stair. Of course, you could use an actual stair if that happens to be available, but a single stair step probably won’t be high enough. We recommend a platform that is about a foot from the ground.
Put a barbell across your back (behind your head) and load it with a reasonable amount of weight. Stand in front of the box and lift one foot to place it on the box. Step all the way up to a normal standing position on top of the box before reversing the movement and stepping back down. The front foot stays planted on the bench throughout the entire movement. When you step down, only one foot needs to touch the ground.
9. Weighted Push-Ups
It is very important to have a strong core for stability and powerful movement, but the upper body is usually the first thing that hits when you get into an impact. Moreover, this is the part of the body that generates quick, explosive power to ram your way through the opposition. Rather than trying to develop size and definition, a football workout will emphasize the coordination of the torso and core.
One of the best exercises for this purpose is the weighted push-up. It works exactly like a normal push-up, except that you put some weights on your back. If you want to go with a more extreme version, you can do elevated pushups (such as push-ups using three chairs) with a weight hanging from your belt.
The most important thing to remember here is that you must avoid sacrificing technique for more reps. If you have to break form in any way, you have hit your limit, and it’s time to stop.
10. Power Cleans
The power clean is a relatively easy exercise that emphasizes explosive power above all. If you want to target those fast-response muscle fibers, this is probably the best thing you can do. Start in the same position that you would use for a deadlift, leaning down and gripping the bar in an overhand grip as before. This exercise should be performed fast and rough for maximum benefit.
When you reach the top of the deadlift, use an extension of the hips to push the bar out and up. As you do so, you bend your knees and go into a half-squat position under the bar. As you squat, your grip switches from a palm-down grip to a palm-up grip. Now shoot your body upwards into a standing position as fast as you can. Once the bar is parallel to your neck and your knees are fully straightened, you’re done. Drop the bar back to the ground and repeat.
As you can see, the above exercises are meant to provide a mix of fast, explosive power, powerful pushing strength, long and nimble jumps, and legs like tree trunks. With a combination of the above exercises, we have no doubt that any football athlete can experience great improvements in performance that will help them to gain victory on the field. Of course, we should mention that a good exercise regimen needs to be combined with the right kind of diet in order to obtain the full benefits thereof. If you have enjoyed this article and found our advice to be helpful, please follow us on Facebook using the link below.
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