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Summer Training with University of Miami Football

May 1, 2006 | Featured in the May, 2006 Issue

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School’s out, and long days of basking in the sun have replaced the daily grind of classes and homework. The good things of summer—days at the pool, cookouts and family vacations—are here.

Before you know it, though, two-a-days start and football season is in sight, which means your summer has to involve more than just maxing and relaxing. Don’t get us wrong—enjoy your well-deserved break from the books. Just make sure you seize the opportunities for success the summer months present, because the outcome of your Friday nights this fall are determined by what you do between now and then.

Andreu Swasey, the University of Miami’s head strength and conditioning coach, uses the summer months to prepare the Hurricane football squad to defend their rep as a national powerhouse. “The summer is so important to a player’s athletic development,” he says. “It’s a base on which you can build the upcoming season. With two-a-days on the way, you have to make sure your body is acclimated to the heat and to the training regimens coaches have for you.”

The ’Canes’ training has three phases—spring, summer and beginning of the season. “During our spring phase, we look to get as big and strong as possible for spring ball. Once we hit the summer phase, we train to be complete football players,” Swasey says. “We make sure the guys are in great shape, strong and ready to make multi- directional cuts. Because by the time they get to the coaches, it’s time to play ball. There is no time to play catch-up.”

According to Swasey, showing up for doubles unconditioned is to your own detriment. He says, “You won’t be able to show your coaches what you can really do.”

This summer, you’ve got a new buddy—Swasey will be by your side wherever you go, giving you the info and training he uses every year to produce the most athletically impressive players in the nation. By the end of August, no one will have to ask what you did over summer break.

'CANE STRENGTH

Lower body, core and explosive strength form the foundation of Miami’s strength training. Swasey’s program consists of four key elements to address these areas.

Olympic Lifts

“These make an athlete as explosive as possible. All the different versions we use train you to explode quickly.”

Progression Notes: Gradually increase the weight and lower the reps. Toward the end of summer, you should be performing 5 heavy sets of 1-2 reps.

Squat Variations

“The squat and its variations are the most important movements for football players. These work the whole body, including the glutes, hamstrings and quads, and they train the most important region—the lower back and trunk.”

Progression Notes: Gradually increase the weight and lower the reps. Toward the end of summer, you should be performing 5 heavy sets of 1-2 reps.

Core

“To deliver a solid blow, a strong core is necessary. You can be as strong as you want in your legs and upper body, but without core strength, you won’t transfer any power into an opponent.”

Backside

“You can’t ignore the back of your body. A lot of kids like to train the front with the bench press, and there is a time and place for that, but the key is a balanced body. If you’re strong in the front and back of your body, as well as your core, you’ll be a much better player on the field.”

THE LIFTS

Power Shrug

• Grip bar just outside athletic stance with shins touching bar
• Assume deadlift position with back locked, shoulders up, abs and chest flexed
• Begin initial pull by extending hips and knees
• When bar is just above knees, explode upward by forcefully shrugging with straight arms and fully extending hips, knees and ankles

Power Clean

• Follow first four steps of Power Shrug
• Then, pull bar up, keeping it close to chest
• Drop under bar and catch along front of shoulders in athletic stance with knees bent

Hang Snatch

• With grip much wider than shoulder width, begin holding bar just above knees with back locked, shoulders up, abs and chest flexed
• Explode upward by forcefully shrugging with straight arms and fully extending hips, knees and ankles
• Pull bar up, keeping it close to chest
• Drop under bar and catch overhead with arms straight and knees bent

Split Jerk

• Stand with slight flex in hips and knees and hold bar across collar bones with shoulder-width grip
• Explode upward by extending hips, knees and ankles simultaneously
• Catch bar with arms locked overhead and slight flex in hips and knees

Lateral Squat

• Assume wide stance with bar on back
• Keeping right leg straight, sit back and squat over left foot. Keep left knee behind left toe
• Drive back into start position with left leg
• Repeat on right side

Lunge

• Begin in standing position with bar on back
• Step forward into lunge position
• Keeping front knee behind toes, lower until back knee almost touches ground
• Without changing position of torso, push back off front heel into standing position

Sandbag Upright Row and Curl Combo

• Stand holding sandbag in front
• Keeping bag tight to body, raise to chin level by driving elbows toward sky
• Lower arms through same motion
• Repeat for specified reps, then perform set of curls with sand bag
Perform with bar if sandbag is unavailable

CORE STABILIZATION SERIES

Plank

• Lie on stomach with elbows bent underneath
• Raise body until only elbows and toes touch ground
• Keep body rigid and flat by tightening abs and butt
• Hold for 30 seconds
• Perform 3 times

Side Bridge

• Lie on side with hand tucked underneath and feet stacked on top of each other
• Lift body so only outside edge of feet and hand touch ground
• Tighten core and elevate hips to keep body in straight line
• Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side
• Perform twice on each side for 4 total reps

Superman

• Lie on stomach with arms extended straight out in front
• Keeping arms and legs straight, squeeze low back and glutes to raise chest and thighs off floor
• Hold for 30 seconds
• Perform 3 times

'CANE MOVEMENT

“It won’t do you any good if you can lift all day, but can’t move. This is a running man’s game,” Swasey says. “My field is called strength and conditioning—you need both, and if you are slacking in either, you won’t be successful in this game.”

Sand Pit

Sand training is one of Swasey’s secrets to making the ’Canes “running men.” Once a week during summer training, the players hit the sandpit to improve their agility and explosion. “We perform all kinds of cuts and changes of direction out in the sandpit,” Swasey says. “These drills develop the inner groin, strengthen the feet and ankles, and improve multi-directional movement. Sand training also works as a form of resistance running. Once I get these guys back out on the field, they can explode and get in and out of breaks much better.”

THE MOVEMENTS

If a sandpit is unavailable, run the following drills on grass.

Zigzag Cut

• Set up seven cones in zigzag pattern as shown in diagram
• Sprint to each cone, then cut to 45-degree angle
• Get in and out of cuts as quickly as possible

Pro Agility

• Set up three cones 5 yards apart
• Begin at middle cone and sprint right
• Touch cone, change direction and sprint 10 yards to far cone
• Touch cone, change direction and sprint through middle cone
• Repeat in opposite direction

Backpedal and Cut

• Set up cones as shown in diagram
• With good forward body lean, backpedal to first cone
• Without changing body angle, plant hard at cone and explode into sprint to next cone
• Repeat pattern for length of cones

JONATHAN VILMA BY THE NUMBERS

Swasey’s alumni include some pretty impressive athletes, but it’s easy for him to point out who benefited the most from dedication to summer strength and conditioning. “Jonathan Vilma made the biggest gains of anyone since I’ve been at Miami,” Swasey says. “Going into his senior year, he came out of summer weighing 230, squatting over 500, power cleaning 360 and benching 365. All of this resulted from his preparation going into that year, and it made a lot of things possible for him.”

Known for his intelligence as well as his hard hits, the 6’1” Vilma exploded for an amazing senior year at middle linebacker, earned first team Academic-All-American honors and got picked by the New York Jets in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft.

Vilma transitioned smoothly into the pros. He tallied 107 tackles his first year and took home the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. This ex-’Cane didn’t experience the sophomore slump, either. He led the League in tackles in 2005 with a ridiculous 169.

Related Exercises

Backpedal and Cut
Hang Snatch
Lateral Squat
Lunge
Plank
Power Clean
Power Shrug
Pro Agility
Side Bridge
Split Jerk
Superman
Zigzag Cut Sandbag Upright Row and Curl Combo
Josh Staph
- Josh Staph is the Senior Vice President, Content at STACK Media and joined the company shortly after it was founded in 2005. He graduated from...
Josh Staph
- Josh Staph is the Senior Vice President, Content at STACK Media and joined the company shortly after it was founded in 2005. He graduated from...
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