3 Exercise Swaps Every Football Player Should Make

June 16, 2013 | Ryan Sprague

Must See Football Videos

When it comes to training for sports, not all exercises are created equal. This is especially true for a sport like football, which relies on an athlete's explosive power. Power is different from strength. Power is strength plus speed—how quickly you can move a mass. So to become a better football player, you can’t just work on exercises that get you stronger; you need to work on exercises that will make you stronger and faster.

Unfortunately, too many athletes fall in to using the machines at a gym instead of more simple (and more challenging) exercises that will ultimately make them better football players. Here are three moves you should ditch, and three other (better) football exercises you should do instead.

If you’re doing Leg Presses, do Squats instead

Regardless of your position, it is crucial to have strong and powerful legs. Linemen need lower-body strength and power to block; running backs need it to run through holes and over defenders; and defensive players need it to help drag runners to the ground. The Leg Press is not the best way to develop this strength and power. Think functionally here. When on the football field will a player ever be in a seated position pushing up against something with his legs? The answer is “never.” So he shouldn't be training his body this way.

Squats, in contrast, are among the most functional exercises any athlete (including football players) can do. Think about how well the movement translates to on-field action: the athlete must brace his core, keep his head up, sink down into the basic athletic position, and explode back into an extended position. Sounds a lot like delivering a block or a tackle, doesn’t it? (See  Athletes' Performance NFL Workout: Lower-Body Superset for Power and Speed.)

If you’re doing Hamstring Curls, do Cleans instead

Strengthening the posterior chain (i.e., the back, glutes, and hamstrings) is crucial for overall athletic development. This is where speed and explosive power originate. However, isolated movements, such as Hamstring Curls on a machine, don’t cut it. Here again, think: When will a player be lying down on the field curling his hamstrings in isolation? It won’t happen.

To train explosive power and develop speed in the posterior chain, there is no better exercise than the Clean. Whether performed from the ground or from a hang position, the Clean is incredibly beneficial for athletes looking to develop their explosive power. Every bit of the movement mimics the explosive nature of football, directly translating into speed and power on the field. Knowing how to perform a proper Clean is important for reaping the benefits, so be sure to seek out a professionally certified trainer before you attempt the exercise. (See 5 Reasons Why Football Players Should Power Clean.)

If you’re doing Leg Extensions, do Lunges instead

Everyone likes to train the muscles they can see, and the quadriceps are no exception. However, athletes with overly dominant quads are more likely to suffer a hamstring injury and experience tightness and restriction in the hips, both of which can hinder their performance.

Instead of working just the quads with Leg Extensions, target the upper legs and posterior chain with Walking Lunges. They recruit your glutes and hamstrings along with your quads, and they're great for speed development. Lunges promote quadriceps development without letting them overpower the hamstrings, creating a better balance of strength in your leg muscles. (See The Perfect Superset for Speed.)

Ryan Sprague
- Ryan Sprague is the owner of TRAIN Sports + Fitness (San Diego), where he specializes in sports performance and athlete development at all skill levels....
Ryan Sprague
- Ryan Sprague is the owner of TRAIN Sports + Fitness (San Diego), where he specializes in sports performance and athlete development at all skill levels....

Featured Videos

Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 1,265,894
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 197,143
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 4: Skill Training Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 4: Skill Training Views: 396,957
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,189
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,354,155
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,255
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,920,916
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 6,134,125

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
2015 Summer Training Guide: Volleyball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Volleyball

A Modern Twist to the Original Burpee

A Modern Twist to the Original Burpee

Olympian Carrie Tollefson's Core Workout

Olympian Carrie Tollefson's Core Workout

Build Powerful Muscles With Velocity-Based Training

Build Powerful Muscles With Velocity-Based Training

Why You Should Add Depth Jumps to Your Workouts

Why You Should Add Depth Jumps to Your Workouts

What Sport Coaches Need to Know About Strength and Conditioning

What Sport Coaches Need to Know About Strength and Conditioning

2015 Summer Training Guide: Football

2015 Summer Training Guide: Football

Build Lower-Body Power with This Squat Workout

Build Lower-Body Power with This Squat Workout

2015 Summer Training Guide: Lacrosse

2015 Summer Training Guide: Lacrosse

Why Single-Arm and Single-Leg Training is Better for Athletes

Why Single-Arm and Single-Leg Training is Better for Athletes

Strength Isn’t Just How Much You Can Lift on a Barbell

Strength Isn't Just How Much You Can Lift on a Barbell

Building Brakes for More Speed

Building Brakes for More Speed

Why Reverse Lunges Are Better Than Forward Lunges

Why Reverse Lunges Are Better Than Forward Lunges

10-Minute Dynamic Warm-Up for Any Workout

10-Minute Dynamic Warm-Up for Any Workout

Full-Body Training: 4 Dumbbell Ring Training Exercises

Full-Body Training: 4 Dumbbell Ring Training Exercises

The Squat Variation That Torches Your Core

The Squat Variation That Torches Your Core

The 10-Minute Grip Strengthening Workout

The 10-Minute Grip Strengthening Workout

Bulletproof Shoulders: A Shoulder Training Guide

Bulletproof Shoulders: A Shoulder Training Guide

How to Build Strong Neck Muscles

How to Build Strong Neck Muscles

There Might Be a Good Reason Tim Tebow Looks This Ridiculous

There Might Be a Good Reason Tim Tebow Looks This Ridiculous

2015 Summer Training Guide: Track

2015 Summer Training Guide: Track

Go Against Traditional Workout Order for Bigger Gains

Go Against Traditional Workout Order for Bigger Gains

9 Ways to Improve Your Squat Technique

9 Ways to Improve Your Squat Technique

Build Elite Strength With This Training System

Build Elite Strength With This Training System

Are You Using the Right Weight for Every Exercise?

Are You Using the Right Weight for Every Exercise?

2015 Summer Training Guide: Wrestling

2015 Summer Training Guide: Wrestling

5 Things to Remember When You Wing Your Workout

5 Things to Remember When You Wing Your Workout

3 Bear Crawl Variations for Better Core Strength

3 Bear Crawl Variations for Better Core Strength

Building Functional Balance for Figure Skaters

Building Functional Balance for Figure Skaters

2015 Summer Training Guide: Baseball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Baseball

3 Simple Tips to Gain Muscle Mass

3 Simple Tips to Gain Muscle Mass

Troubleshooting the Lunge: How to Fix Your Form

Troubleshooting the Lunge: How to Fix Your Form

Mix Up Your Workout With Unique Partner Exercises

Mix Up Your Workout With Unique Partner Exercises

2015 Summer Training Guide: Soccer

2015 Summer Training Guide: Soccer

Use Single-Leg Strength to Enhance Soccer Performance

Use Single-Leg Strength to Enhance Soccer Performance

Marcus Mariota's Speed and Strength Workout

Marcus Mariota's Speed and Strength Workout

Fix 7 Common Problem Areas with Exercises From Todd Durkin

Fix 7 Common Problem Areas with Exercises From Todd Durkin

2015 Summer Training Guide: Softball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Softball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Basketball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Basketball

YardBarker