In-Season Lifting for Football Players

November 16, 2010

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Football players at every level train hard all year to prepare for a long, grueling season. However, many young players forget the importance of maintaining their strength and muscle mass during the season. By adding two short in-season lifting sessions each week, athletes can maintain their strength, which will only improve their gridiron performance.

On both the college and professional levels, most teams have at least two lifting regimens a week during the season. NFL players are weighed weekly to make sure they maintain their ideal playing weight, and pumping iron is a key component to ensure their hard-earned muscles aren’t wasting away. In-season workouts are crucial to maintaining lean mass, working out soreness, preventing injuries, and staying explosive on the field.

Below are some tips on the best ways to structure your in-season workouts.

In-Season Workout #1
This workout is typically done the day after the game, but if you are really beat up from the gridiron battle, wait another 24 hours. The actual lift itself should be short and sweet, hitting all the major muscle groups, but it shouldn’t hinder your ability to practice and play at a high level. Because we are in season, keep the weight load under 80-85 percent of your one rep max.

Pre-Rehabilitation and Core
Spend the first five to 10 minutes of each workout focusing on core strength and prehab exercises. This is crucial for injury prevention and rehabbing any areas that may become weak or hurt; hence “pre” rehabilitation for ankles, shoulders, knees and other injury-prone areas is key.

Prehab and Core Workout
Plank – 1 min.
Side Plank – 1 min. (each side)
Internal/External Shoulder Rotation – 15 reps
Ankle Circles – 20 (each direction)
Walking Lunges – 20
Leg Bridges – 20
Single-Leg Calf Raises – 20 (each leg)

Core Lifts
Hang Cleans or Power Pulls – 3x5
Bench Press – 3x5
Squat/Front Squat/Leg Press (Choose only one) – 3x5

Auxiliary Lifts
Wide Lat Pulldown – 3x10
Hamstring Curl or Glute Ham Raise – 3x10
Dumbbell Bench or Incline Bench Press – 3x10
Dumbbell Curl to Shoulder Press – 3x10
Tricep Extensions – 3x10

In-Season Workout #2
If you have time in your week for another lifting routine, I recommend it be no closer than three days before your next game. This workout will be a dynamic speed-based lift and should take no more than 45 minutes. For Bench and Squat, I recommend very light sets, with no more than 60 percent of your max, with one minute of rest between sets. Continue with three sets of 10 for the rest of your lifts.

Prehab and Core Workout
Plank – 1 min.
Side Plank – 1 min. (each side)
Internal/External Shoulder Rotation – 15 reps
Ankle Circles – 20 (each direction)
Walking Lunges – 20
Leg Bridges – 20
Single-Leg Calf Raises – 20 (each leg)

Dynamic Lifts
Speed Bench Press – 10x2
Speed Squats – 10x2

Auxiliary Lifts
Step-Ups – 3x10
Single-Arm Rows – 3x10
Dumbbell Military – 3x10
Biceps/Triceps (your choice) – 3x10

Photo:  DailySentinel.com

Matt Ulrich started Chicago-based Winning Edge Athletics after playing two years in the NFL.

He was a three-year starter on the offensive line at Northwestern and was team captain. In his senior year, he was acknowledged as a National Strength and Conditioning Association All-American and was voted to the Honorable Mention All-Big Ten team. He still owns many lifting records at Northwestern. After college, Matt impressed NFL scouts with more than his strength. On his Pro Day, he showed his athleticism with top offensive linemen scores in all of his Combine events. Matt accrued two years on the active roster for the Indianapolis Colts and played in 12 games. In February 2007, he reached the pinnacle of the football world when the Colts won Super Bowl XLI.

Since the fall of 2007, Matt has helped others achieve their athletic goals. A certified National Academy of Sports Medicine performance enhancement specialist, he has consulted for high school and college strength and conditioning programs, run coaching clinics, given motivational discussions and launched programs such as PURE STEEL. He can be contacted via email or at www.winningedgeathletics.com.

Matt Ulrich
- Matt Ulrich started Chicago-based Winning Edge Athletics after playing two years in the NFL. He was a three-year starter on the offensive line at Northwestern...
Matt Ulrich
- Matt Ulrich started Chicago-based Winning Edge Athletics after playing two years in the NFL. He was a three-year starter on the offensive line at Northwestern...
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