Lifting weights and football go hand in hand. During off-season, most teams lift hard to prepare for the coming season. The players and teams that get bigger and stronger have an advantage over their opponents when the new season starts. But it's not those who work the hardest that get the biggest payoff -- more often, it's the team that plans and works the smartest. When planning a strength training for your football team, keep some essentials in mind.
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No Two Athletes Are Alike
If you've had a one-size-fits-all approach to your team's strength training, it's time to change that. What works for one football player will not necessarily work for all. Evaluate your athletes to see what each of their strengths and weaknesses are, and form a training regimen around that. Don't be afraid to abandon or change up a weightlifting program if it's not working for some of your players.
If you use only squats, bench press, incline and power-clean, break out some new lifts. While these four lifts should be a part of your weight workouts, they should not be the only ones. Add lifts that apply specifically to football. Because football requires tremendous mobility, have your team members do forward and side lunges, farmer carries, firemen carries and sled pushes to your strength training as a starting point for implementing movement-based lifts.
Pullups, pushups and dips are body-weight exercises that can help football players on the field. When playing football, players constantly moving through crowds of other players, pushing, pulling and using their body as leverage. The better players are at managing and controlling their own body weight, the more control they have over their opponents. Players that are strong for their weight can use body-weight exercises to develop leverage, sustain balance and decrease the risk for injury.
An athlete's core is the connecting point between his upper and lower extremities. If the middle of a player's body is weak, both his upper and his lower body will be compromised. The core also helps with balance and with bracing the body when being hit or tackled. Rows, chin pulls, abdominal work and chinups or pullups in a football training program help strengthen each team member's core.
Strength training should not be rushed; it takes time to see the effort pay off. Pace your athletes' program to enhance their growth and prevent overtraining. If your players are constantly sore, they are probably not getting an adequate amount of recovery time. If muscles are not allowed to recover, a plateau in fitness may result. Most exercise professionals recommend 48 hours between strength-training sessions.