Off-Season Football Training for Strength and Power

STACK Expert John Cissik prescribes a 12-week off-season football training program.

Off-Season Football Training

Photo: AP

Off-season football training for strength and power is extremely important for success on the field. Football requires speed, agility, power and the ability to move an opponent—all of which demand great levels of strength.

The off-season is the ideal time to work on this. Unfortunately, it's also when you may not have access to ideal facilities, supervision and equipment.

If your resources are limited, below is a comprehensive strength and power development program that can be done in most facilities. It is organized around four days of training a week with a break in the middle for recovery. Ideal organization is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with two days of strength training and two days of power training. Strength training primes the nervous system, and power training takes advantage of that priming.

The program is 12 weeks long. You can repeat it after you complete it. If you are doing speed and agility training, do them on the strength days. Do any conditioning work on the off days.

Weeks 1-4

Monday

Back Squats: 5x8-12 @ 70-80%
Romanian Deadlifts: 3x8-12
Bench Press: 5x8-12 @ 70-80%
Bent-Over Rows: 3x8-12
Military Press: 3x8-12

Tuesday

Clean Pull: 5x4-6 @ 60% of bodyweight
Dumbbell Power Cleans: 3x4-6
Dumbbell Push Jerk: 3x4-6
Squat Jumps: 10x
Counter-Movement Jumps: 10x

Thursday

Front Squats: 3x4-6 @ 70-80%
Good Mornings: 5x8-12
Incline Press: 3x8-12 @ 70-80%
Pull-Ups: 5x8-12
Dumbbell Military Press: 3x8-12

Friday

Jerk Drives: 5x4-6 @ 60% of bodyweight
Dumbbell Power Snatch: 3x4-6 each arm
Dumbbell Pulls: 3x4-6
Standing Long Jumps: 10x
Mini-Hurdle Hops: 3x10 yards

Weeks 5-8

Monday

Pause Back Squats: 5x4-6 @ 60-70% of Back Squat
Romanian Deadlifts: 3x6-10
Bench Press: 5x6-10 @ 80-90%
One-Arm Dumbbell Rows: 3x6-10 each arm
Military Press: 3x6-10

Tuesday

Clean Pull: 5x4-6 @ 65-75% of bodyweight
Dumbbell Power Cleans + Dumbbell Push Jerks: 3x4-6 Cleans + 2-3 Jerks
Dumbbell Pulls: 3x4-6
Counter-Movement Jumps: 10x
Box Jump: 10x (jump onto box, step down, reset)

Thursday

Back Squats: 3x4-6 @ 80-90%
Partial Deadlifts (bar at knee height): 3x6-10
Dumbbell Bench Press: 3x6-10
Pull-Ups: 5x6-10
Dumbbell Military Press: 3x6-10

Friday

Jerk Drives: 5x4-6 @ 65-75% of bodyweight
Dumbbell Power Snatch: 3x4-6 each arm
Dumbbell Pulls: 3x4-6
Standing Long Jumps: 10x
Mini-Hurdle Hops: 3x10 yards
Box Jumps: 10x (jump over box, reset)

Weeks 9-12

Monday

Eccentric Squats: 5x4-6 @ 70-80% of Back Squat
Romanian Deadlifts: 3x4-8
Bench Press: 5x4-8 @ 80-90%
Bent-Over Rows: 3x4-8
Military Press: 3x4-8

Tuesday

Clean Pull: 5x4-6 @ 70-80% of body weight
Dumbbell Power Cleans + Dumbbell Push Jerk: 3x4-6 Cleans + 2-3 Jerks
Dumbbell Pulls: 3x4-6
Jump and Clasp Knees: 10x
Box Jumps: 10x (jump onto box, step down, reset)

Thursday

Back Squats: 3x2-6 @ 85-95%
Split Squats: 3x6-10 each leg @ 30% of back squat
Incline Press: 3x6-10 @ 70-80%
Pull-Ups: 5x4-8
Dumbbell Military Press: 3x4-8

Friday

Jerk Drives: 5x4-6 @ 70-80% of bodyweight
Dumbbell Power Snatch: 3x4-6 each arm
Dumbbell Pulls: 3x4-6
Mini-Hurdle Hops: 3x10 yards
Box Jumps: 10x (jump over box, reset)

The Exercises

This program includes several new exercises, along with some cautions about a few old favorites.

Dumbbell Power Cleans

  • Stand with a dumbbell in each hand. Dumbbells can be held at your sides or in front of your body as if they were a barbell. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
  • Pull your shoulders back and stick your chest out.
  • Unlock your knees and push your hips back until the dumbbells are at mid-thigh level.
  • Explosively extend your hips, shrug your shoulders and rise up on your toes at the same time. This will force the dumbbells up along your body.
  • When they reach shoulder level, move into a quarter squat and receive them on your shoulders.
  • Repeat.

Dumbbell Push Jerks

  • Start this exercise by cleaning the dumbbells to your shoulders. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
  • Stick your chest out and pull your shoulders back.
  • Move into a quarter squat.
  • Without pausing in the Squat, drive the dumbbells off your shoulders using your legs.
  • When the dumbbells reach eye level, use your arms to press the dumbbells. It's important that the dumbbells stay in line with your hips.

Dumbbell Pulls

  • Start in the same position as the Dumbbell Power Clean.
  • Explosively extend your hips, rise up on your toes and shrug your shoulders up—all at the same time.
  • Reset and perform again. This exercise, like the Clean Pull, is a partial movement; only the explosive part of the lift is performed.

Jerk Drives

  • Begin with the bar on the front of your shoulders.
  • Use a clean-width grip on the bar.
  • Stick your chest out and pull your shoulders back. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
  • Quickly move into a quarter squat.
  • Without pausing, drive the bar off your shoulders using your legs.
  • Allow the bar to return to your shoulders, reset and repeat.
  • It's important to move into a partial squat to absorb the bar when it comes back down.

Dumbbell Power Snatch

  • Stand with a dumbbell in your right hand. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
  • Stick your chest out and pull your shoulders back.
  • Hold the dumbbell in front of your body.
  • Unlock your knees and push your hips back until the dumbbell is at mid-thigh level.
  • Explosively extend your hips, rise up on your toes and shrug your shoulders up. This forces the dumbbell up along your body. When it reaches shoulder height, move under it into a quarter squat and receive it overhead at arm's length.
  • Repeat, then switch arms.

A note on the jumps: The jumps are meant to be done with all-out effort. They are not meant to be rhythmic exercises. This means you should jump as high as you can, land, take your time to reset, and jump again.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: FOOTBALL | POWER CLEAN | CHEST | BENCH PRESS | FOOTBALL WORKOUTS | MILITARY | POWER | EXERCISE | BENCH | CLEAN | PRESS | DUMBBELLS | SNATCH | SHRUG