Defensive linemen in football have a very taxing and difficult job. They line up along the line of scrimmage against the opposing team's offensive line. The goal is to drive the offensive line back toward the quarterback, stop any running backs from getting through and generally cause trouble for the other team's offense. There are exercises and workouts that can help a defensive lineman excel at his position.
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A defensive lineman needs to have a very powerful upper body and legs to do his job effectively. He is attempting to drive back players as big or bigger than himself. Performing exercises that are typically reserved for power lifters will give the defensive lineman the raw power he needs to compete. Exercises such as heavy bench presses, squats, deadlifts and clean and jerks will increase explosive power. Stick to compound moves that work multiple groups of muscles rather than isolation moves for definition.
The five-man sled is a football exercise to develop explosive hand speed and power needed on the defensive line. It also works your lateral foot movement. The defensive linemen should be in a single line in front of the first dummy on the sled. Get into the proper stance and when the whistle blows, explode into the dummy with as much leverage as you can. Move down the sled and attack the last four dummies with your hands. Work quickly and with a high level of intensity.
The reaction drill tests a defensive lineman's reaction time when an opposing player changes direction. Place three cones 7 to 10 yards apart. Place a running back at one cone, with a blocker between the other two cones facing the defensive lineman. The coach stands behind the defensive lineman and signals to the running back which way to run. The defensive lineman must fight off the blocker as well as react to where the running back is going and prevent him from getting to the cone.
Initial Step Drill with Ball
The initial step drill trains the defensive lineman not to move too soon and incur a penalty. The football is tied to a rope that the coach is holding. Two or three defensive linemen line up in their stances. The coach yells out different offensive plays and cadences, before finally pulling the ball away, signalling the defensive line to act. This will teach them to remain still until the ball is snapped.