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Defensive Back Workout Plan

author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.
Defensive Back Workout Plan
Defensive backs need to be strong and fast. Photo Credit digitalskillet/iStock/Getty Images

In football, each position has a unique job that the players spend countless hours in training and preparing in the gym. You only need to watch a game for a minute to realize that the players come in all shapes and sizes. Some are small and speedy, while some are towering and powerful. The defensive backs in football are the counterparts to the running backs and wide receivers on the offense, so they have to be quick and agile.

Role of Defensive Backs

As one of the most versatile positions on the defensive side of the game, a defensive back has to react quickly to the play that unfolds. They have to follow the football as it's distributed to the quarterback and then to another player on the offense.

Read More: The Advantages of Playing Football

There are two different positions that a defensive back can have: Cornerbacks are the players that guard wide receivers, who are offensive players that usually catch the ball. Then there are safeties who guard both running backs and wide receivers. Because they guard the fastest players on the offense, defensive backs have to be incredibly fast and able to change directions on a dime.

Defensive Back Training

Defensive backs have to be able to run backward, side-to-side and forward to cover their opponent on the offense. They also have to be strong enough to tackle larger players on the offense. This catch-22 makes it difficult to decide how to train as a defensive back.

If you lose weight and focus on speed and agility, you'll be able to run as fast as the other players but you won't be as adept at tackling. On the other hand, building yourself up too big will make you slower, making it easier for someone on the offense to run by you.

The best workout for a defensive back includes exercises that will make them strong enough to tackle, yet leave enough room for them to train for speed.

Training Week

When setting up a training plan for football, you can assume that there will be five workouts during the week, one game and one rest day before the game. After the game, you'll work out five days in a row. Two of those days will be specifically geared toward speed training. If you workout Monday through Friday, Tuesday and Thursday will be speed training days, because they break up the weight training days and allow your muscles to recover.

Speed Training

During those speed training days, practice ladder drills and jump roping to improve footwork. Then, practice sprinting forward and backward for 10 yards. During the first 10 yards of the run, you're working purely on accelerating, which is the most important part of running in football. A player will rarely reach top speed in a game before they have to change directions.

The speed ladder helps players develop foot speed.
The speed ladder helps players develop foot speed. Photo Credit THESABRINA/iStock/Getty Images

Strength Training

During the three weightlifting days, focus on free weight movements with barbells and dumbbells because they increase strength and coordination more than a machine weight, which doesn't require much coordination or balance.

Lower-Body Exercises

Barbell squats, when you put a barbell on your back and squat down and up, are one of the best lower body strength exercises for football. With this one exercise you'll strengthen your quads and glutes. Both of these leg muscles help propel you when you run.

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Deadlifts, where you pick a barbell up off of the ground and stand up with it in your hands, are another powerful leg exercise. Deadlifts strengthen your glutes and hamstrings, which help you sprint forward faster. They also strengthen your back muscles, which helps protect your spine from injury.

Upper-Body Exercises

For your upper body, use the bench press, in which you lie down on a bench, hold a barbell over your shoulders, lower it down to your chest and press it back up. This movement is important in football because there is a lot of physical contact, including pushing, during a game.

The bench press develops upper-body strength.
The bench press develops upper-body strength. Photo Credit Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images

Barbell rows are one of the best exercises for working as many back muscles as possible. From an athletic position with your hips back and back flat, raise the barbell up from your knees to your stomach and lower it back down.

Weightlifting Schedule

For weightlifting, you should only squat and deadlift once per week each. These exercises tax your legs, which you will work during the game and both of your speed days, so they need time to recover. Each upper body exercise can be done twice because those muscles will recover faster. You can also add bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups and pull-ups, because you'll be moving your bodyweight around for an hour on the football field.

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