Football is a game of fast, quick, high velocity, powerful and stabilizing movements. There are also a lot of pushing and pulling movements that occur in the sagittal plane. These movements require concentric as well as eccentric and resistive rotational forces. What this last statement means is the body will try to stabilize any rotational forces in the transverse plane. It will be important to take all of these components into consideration when designing a football strength and conditioning program.
Right off the bat, we need to look at how the athlete’s core, or in this case, the football player’s is being trained. Many programs incorporate abdominal and low back exercises that use rotational, flexing and extending movements. When we look closer, the muscles of the core are for stabilization, which is very important for the football player. Some exercises that are great for targeting the core include prone and side planks, abdominal wheel rollouts and various rollouts with the physio ball.
Since the upper and lower body are constantly pushing and resisting throughout a football game, it would be wise to incorporate the squat and bench press into a football workout program. However, the coach must realize that they must not overemphasize max lifts. What tends to happen when a player is going for a max lift is that the player really only works on the concentric or upward phase of the lift. This does not help a football player develop his eccentric or negative phase of the lift. It is this part of the lift that will allow the player to develop strength to resist outside forces. The way to fix this is to use a lifting tempo during the workout. A two second negative should be sufficient. The weights may have to initially be decreased, but the pay off on the field will be worth the effort.
Because a football player performs a lot of compound movements during the course of a game, other compound exercises should be included besides the squat and bench. Some good choices include walking barbell lunges, pull-ups, Romanian dead lifts and the jammer extension machine.
Lastly, when designing a football program, it is a good idea to include some of the Olympic lifts. However, instead of focusing on a maximum weight, lighten the weight and focus more so on velocity. It is the velocity of the movements that will transfer over to the field more so than the weight used in the lifts. Have the football player work on exploding through the lower body and letting that force travel all the way up through the upper body.
This article did not include any isolated movements that you may want to include. For example, hammer curls and skull crushers. That is great if you can incorporate isolation movements, but don’t make them the top priority. The neck muscles should be worked at the end of the workout either through the use of a neck harness or isometric holds pressing into the physio ball.
SAMPLE FOOTBALL WORKOUT
|BENCH PRESS (4 sets of 8 reps)||2-3 minute rest between sets|
|SQUATS (6 sets of 8 reps)||2-3 minute rest between sets|
|POWER SHRUGS (3 sets of 8 reps)||2-3 minute rest between sets|
|HAMMER CURLS (3 sets 12 reps)||2-3 minute rest between sets|
|NECK HARNESS (3 sets 12 reps)||2-3 minute rest between sets|
|CORE TRAINING||2-3 minute rest between sets|