Picking the right exercises for your offseason football program can often be a difficult task. While time, facilities, and equipment will often dictate what you can and cannot do, there are a few lifts that every program can take advantage of.
Add these five exercises to your offseason football program to add strength, explosive power, and competition into your sessions:
1. The Lift/Front Squat
This is a quad dominant lift that should be used to complement any posterior exercises that you include in your program. The front squat is a lower body variation that has the barbell resting on the front part of the body as opposed to the typical back squat. Because of this change in bar position, weight percentages must be lowered.
- Feet slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Chest up and out, limits the ability of an athlete to round their back.
- Head looks forward, maintains posture throughout lift and reduces pressure on neck and spine.
- Using a clean catch grip, have the elbows up, forming a 90-degree angle with the shoulders.
- Rest the bar behind the clavicle and close to the neck.
- Set the core by filling the chest with air, keeping the core tight and a vertical spine.
- Initiate the squat by pushing the hips back and sitting through the heels, focus on keeping the knees in line with the toes.
- Attain a parallel squat position and begin the drive upward.
Training Tip: Exhale and create force as you drive the chest up through the ceiling.
2. Band Rotational Work
This rotational exercise is an extremely effective and applicable movement for all football athletes. In a game where rotational instability is happening on every snap, developing this unique type of core strength will pay huge dividends. By creating an unbalanced resistance force, the athlete will need to create stabilization from the ground up. Have your athletes focus on anchoring their feet into the ground and stabilize from the lower body through the core, shoulders, and hands.
- Start by securing the band around a standard pole.
- Feet are slightly wider than shoulder width and body is perpendicular to the pole.
- Extend and hold the band out in front your body just below chest level.
- Begin by rotating to the pole and maintaining an active core.
- From this position, drive and rotate the band in the other direction, staying in a stationary athletic position, active core and arms extended.
- Rotate until you feel the band wrap around your back.
Training Tip: The exercise should be completed with a high rate force production on the pull and slow stability on the extension.
3. Single – Leg Step Ups
This is a great single leg exercise that helps correct muscular imbalances and improve power. Studies have shown that 80% of football is played with one foot off the ground. The step up allows the athlete to work both concentrically and eccentrically through the movement to develop strength and power. It is important to select box heights that keep the hip at no more than 90 degrees of flexion.
- The exercise can be done with dumbbells or barbell weights.
- Stand with feet slightly more than hip width apart facing step-up box.
- Set your core and place one foot on top of the box and drive up until both feet could be on top of the box.
- Hold the balance position at the peak of the exercise and then lower the free leg back to the ground to complete the exercise.
Training Tip: The exercise should be completed with a high rate force production on the way up and slow stability on the way down.
4. Tire Flips
This is a great exercise to develop total body strength, flexibility, endurance, and explosiveness. The position of the body in a tire flip closely mimics that of a football stance and translates extremely well to the playing field. Use the tire flips with a large group of athletes to create competition during the workout. Be sure to monitor your athletes during this particular lift to ensure proper technique and safety.
- Assume a four-point squat stance with your chest pushing into the tire and your hands underneath.
- Have your ankles, knees, and hips aligned and coiled for maximum power, the back is straight and butt is down.
- Begin the lift by driving your hips and chest up at a 45-degree angle into the tire in an explosive manner. Try to achieve triple extension in the ankle, knee, and hip.
- Once the tire is on its way up, jump underneath the tire in a catch position with elbows in and hands in press position.
- After the catch, drive the tire off by using hands in a bench press movement.
- Let the tire settle on the ground and repeat for the next repetition.
Training Tip: This is not a dead lift, legs should be bent and lift should be down with lower body initiating movement.
5. Chin Ups
The chin up could be the best body weight exercise that an athlete can incorporate into their workout. By utilizing different grips, you can constantly modify and challenge your athletes without expensive and complicated equipment. Whether completed with assistance or extra weight, the chin up will help build maximum strength and power for all of your athletes. Be sure to have your athletes focus on getting a full range of motion when performing this exercise.
- Select the grip you will be using for the exercise.
- Start with your arms extended in the hang position on the pull up bar.
- Exhale and pull the head and chest up past the bar.
- Hold the isometric position for a 1 to 2 second count.
- Slowly lower the body back into starting position for second repetition.
Training Tip: You can use bands, partners, or a bench underneath to add assistance to athletes who cannot perform a pull up without help.
Robert Pomazak, MS, PES, SES, is an NASM-certified performance enhancement and speed specialist. He currently serves as strength and conditioning coordinator at Elk Grove High School (Elk Grove Village, Ill.), where he has taught physical education and coached varsity football and baseball for the past 10 years. Pomazak focuses on sport-specific program development and performance training for high school athletes.