Training for Football

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American Football is like just about every other sport, in that it has a history of coaches with a little understanding of the sport's demands on its players. Football is a constant stop-start style to play, with the average play lasting no longer than ten seconds, followed by a much longer rest period. It's demands are closer to traditional sprinting and weight training methods. Compared to sports like Rugby or Boxing, where there is a far greater endurance element required. With that said, the sport has a big element of lateral mobility and technical considerations as well.


Football has a large emphasis on strength training as it should, but not at the expense of things like relative strength, speed, and joint mobility. Most players will often follow a typical bodybuilding split of individual muscle groups being trained once a week with very high volume. Football players cannot afford to adopt this method. You have to think about more than just getting a bigger bench or squat. This method makes it difficult to train for power or speed due to the central nervous system being constantly under stress, which leads to impaired recovery and the ability to perform. So this really leaves adopting one of two options. 1) an upper/lower split and 2) full body split. The following is an example of an upper/lower split.


·  Squats 4 x 4-6

·  Romanian Deadlifts 4 x 4-6

·  Step Ups 2 x 8

·  Pull-throughs 2 x 8

·  Ab Rollouts 2 x 8


·  Incline Bench Press 4 x 4

·  Hang Cleans 3 x 3

·  Shoulder Press 2 x 6

·  Pullups 2 x 6

·  Tricep Extensions 2 x 8

·  Barbell Curls 2 x 8


·  Power Cleans 5 x 3

·  Snatch Grip Deadlifts 3 x 5

·  One Legged Squats 2 x 6

·  Glute Ham Raise 2 x 8

·  Hanging Leg Raises 2 x 10


·  Close Grip Bench Press 3 x 5

·  Pullups 3 x 5

·  Incline Dumbbell Press 2 x 8

·  Seated Row Machine 2 x 8

·  Tricep Extensions 2 x 12

·  Dumbbell Curls 2 x 12

In training for speed for football players, you need to consider the fact that football sprints are generally much shorter in duration than sprinting in track and field events. In football how often do you see an all out sprint for 100 yards? Very rare, most plays are 5-20 yards. Primary emphasis should be on acceleration, with top speed work being a smaller component. An example of speed training for football:

·  Warmup - 5 min general warmup

·  Mobility Exercises - 10 min

·  Running Drills - 10 min

·  Start Work - 6 x 10m (Practice a 3 point or 2 point stance and perform a maximal 10m sprint)

·  Acceleration Work - 6 x 20m (2 or 3 point stance and accelerate through to 20m)

·  Acceleration Work - 2 x 30m (Run from standing start to 30m)


Rest times between sprints should be 2-3 minutes. I would train the sprint work on the same day as the lower body weight routine. Reason being that it will allow for greater CNS as well as muscle recovery.