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How to Get in Shape for Football

by
author image Rogue Parrish
An award-winning writer and editor, Rogue Parrish has worked at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and at newspapers from England to Alaska. This world adventurer and travel book author, who graduates summa cum laude in journalism from the University of Maryland, specializes in travel and food -- as well as sports and fitness. She's also a property manager and writes on DIY projects.
How to Get in Shape for Football
A muscular college-aged man is getting in shape in the gym. Photo Credit DeanDrobot/iStock/Getty Images

The living isn’t easy in summertime for football players -- but it’s fun in its own way. That’s because the offseason is when you get in shape for the gridiron. This time away from the rigors and fatigue of competition is when you build strength and hone your conditioning, working to be at your peak for the first game. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it when you are in your stance, trying to be faster, stronger, bigger and better than your opponents.

Getting as Strong as You Can

You can work in the weight room and on the field to get strong. “In high school, it’s a lot of squats and the sled push,” said Brandon Franklin, a certified personal trainer at the Mac Harbor East in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as a former high school football wide receiver. In addition, you do barbell deadlifts, power cleans and the Olympic lifts: the snatch, and the clean and jerk. You won’t be doing isolations, such as the biceps curl -- your focus is on whole-body work. A buddy can come in handy for tough exercises like the fireman’s carry -- where you carry a teammate down the field on your back. The farmer’s walk is similarly no-frills -- you carry significantly heavy dumbbells or plates in each hand, and trundle for a certain distance down the field.

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Looking to Get Faster

It’s no secret that the 40-yard dash is the basic distance for sprinting in football, hence its role at the NFL combine to screen the fastest players. You can work on your speed, and your speed endurance, by mixing up your speed training. Do 10 reps of 40-yard-dashes, as well as various reps of 100s and 200s, Franklin recommends. Also pair with a teammate to run routes, taking turns as both passer and receiver. This will give you a double carryover into games of both speed and skills if you are at a skills position.

Specializing Your Workout

Every position is a bit different. You want to make footwork on agility ladders a priority if you are a running back or wide receiver, Franklin notes. Alternatively, you can do five-cone drills in the summer, advises “Complete Conditioning for Football.” Set the cones in a square with 10 yards on each side, and a final cone in the middle. Run in varied patterns, including a star, crisscross and little squares, running forward, laterally and backpedaling. If you are a lineman or a kicker, agility work is less important, Franklin states. Linemen need to perform specific drills that focus on blocking and hand movement instead.

Putting It All Together

You’ll be busy three days a week in the weight room if you follow the recommendations of “Complete Conditioning for Football” for offseason conditioning. Try for Monday, Wednesday and Friday for total-body strength workouts. Your running workout and agility training can be Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Your coach may test your strength progress on Fridays compared to benchmarks for your position.

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