Football is a demanding physical game for everyone who plays. However, running backs take more punishment and abuse than any other players on the field. They carry the ball, catch the ball and have to block. They are tackled by 290-pound defensive linemen and are the object of bone-rattling hits from linebackers and defensive backs. There are no plays off when you are a running back. To prepare for the position, you need to be in the best shape possible.
Running backs must go on a strength program in order to be successful. The most successful running backs don't just absorb tackles when they run with the ball, they dish out the punishment by leading with their forearm or tackle when they know they are about to get hit. Go to the weightroom and do bench presses, curls and dead lifts in order to get stronger. Besides lifting the iron, push-ups are an outstanding way to build strength. You can do four sets of 40 push-ups everyday in addition to your work in the weightroom.
Don't ignore your lower body when you are in the weightroom. Many tacklers are going to dive at your thighs, lower legs and ankles. By working on leg press exercises on the Nautilus machine, you will be able to absorb those shots and keep on playing.
Speed and quickness
Perhaps the greatest skills a running back can bring to the game are speed and quickness. These are primarily functions of an athlete's innate athletic ability, but both of these characteristics can be improved with workouts. To improve quickness, run the shuttle drill. Set up cones every 5 yards on the football field and place batons at the 10-, 20- and 30-yard lines. Run to the right of the first cone and to the left of the second cone. When you get to the 10-yard line, pick up the first baton and run back the same way — alternating the side of the cone your run to — and put the baton on the goal line. Run in the same manner to pick up the batons on the 20- and 30-yard lines. Do this at the start of every workout session to improve quickness.
To improve speed, start off at the sideline of the football field. Sprint to the near hashmark and back to the sideline, the far hashmark and back to the sideline and then to the far sideline and back. Work on your technique, keeping your knees up and your body leaning forward.
Playing the game for a full 60 minutes tests the body's ability to take punishment and compete. After just a few plays, an individual can start to feel fatigued from the rigors of the game. That is not a suitable option for football. Players need to have endurance so they perform as well in the fourth quarter as they do in the first. Running 2-3 miles on your own away from the practice field will help you build the endurance needed to compete over a 10-, 12- or 16-game season.