3 Key Strength Exercises for Offensive Linemen

Get strong and avoid injuries with these exercises for offensive linemen.

There's no doubt about it, the offensive line is probably the most important unit on the football field. O-linemen also have a higher need for maximal strength compared to other offensive positions. This creates a situation where the weight room becomes very important in the development of an offensive lineman. Certain offensive line exercises may translate to more punishing blocks on the football field. Let's take a look at some of them.

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Football Bar Bench Press

Offensive linemen's shoulders take a pounding day in and day out. Often, one of the main recommendations for the big guys is the Bench Press. This is a classic movement for offensive linemen for good reason. The pressing movements of Bench Press variations closely resemble the blocking movements they perform on the field. Although this exercise is good, I have found with my athletes that it does put extra stress on the shoulder from time to time. With all the blocking these guys do, I do not want to add to that stress. For that reason, I have switched a lot of my big guys to a Swiss bar or football bar with a neutral grip for most of their pressing movements. Once the initial learning curve is overcome and the shaky wrists have been conquered, the linemen I work with love this grip, and it keeps their shoulders feeling healthy.

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Split Squats

It is no secret that offensive linemen should get stronger in their lower body, and many coaches recommend Squats and Front Squats to build this strength. Those are both important movements; however, I feel that especially for developing young offensive linemen, the Split Squat offers greater benefit. The best part of the Split Squat is that you can load it with dumbbells, barbells or any type of load you want; and when performed correctly, it will also help you achieve the hip mobility needed to get into the lineman's 3-point stance. The Split Squat is simultaneously a hip stretch and a lower-body strength movement. It is for this reason that I like to include some variation of the Split Squat or Lunge in every training program for young offensive linemen.

Heavy Sled Drags / Pushes

The final movement I love for linemen is heavy sled work. This can be completed with a dragging sled or prowler, but heavy Sled Pulls and Pushes offer great ways for offensive linemen to develop the specific strength necessary to excel at their position. Heavy sled work forces the body to generate large forces needed to move the weight, similar to a run/block on the field. When done for distances over 20 yards, this type of work also offers a great conditioning benefit. Keep the reps around 15-20 seconds of hard, grueling work to develop strength, and get in shape to dominate on the field.

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