From Aug. 30, 2007 through Jan. 7, 2008, LSU defeated 12 different opponents to capture their second BCS-era National Championship and solidify their status as one of the elite programs in college football. Those victories came during the fall and winter, but the Tigers laid their foundation for success in the most crucial period of the football calendar-summer.
Below, Tom Moffitt, LSU football’s strength and conditioning coach and American Football Monthly’s 2003 College Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year, provides his 12-week summer training guide to help you gain weight, increase strength and develop fast twitch muscles. Whether you’re a JVer hoping to break the varsity lineup, a starter looking to carry your squad to state or a proven star shooting for a D-I full ride, follow this championship-approved workout to elevate your gridiron game.
The program is specifically designed to help increase your:
• Dynamic flexibility
• Functional strength and power
• Maximum speed acceleration
• Muscle mass
• Lean muscle to fat ratio
After 12 weeks, you will have safely and effectively gained weight, built muscle mass and strength, and conditioned your body to physically endure the grind of a long season. “You can’t wait until camp starts in August to get ready for the rigors of a season,” Moffitt warns, “because then you’re trying to survive instead of thrive.”
“The most important aspect of training is your preparation,” Moffitt says. “It should equal the length of your competitive season, so if you plan on playing for 12 weeks in the fall, you need 12 weeks of preparation in the summer.”
Since football is played with several muscle groups at a time, Moffitt advocates a total-body lifting regimen in the summer. “Football is a ground-based activity, and it’s an explosive sport,” he says. “Therefore I believe you have to train that way.” To increase strength and develop explosive, football-related movements, the Tigers use a heavy/light principle for summer weight training-meaning they go heavy on a lift one day per week, then lighten up on the same lift another day.
Moffitt’s 12-week summer program leads to quick and efficient results. “Improvement is based on each individual’s present level of fitness,” he says, “but a football player should expect at least a 10 percent increase in his max in core exercises.” So before starting the program, it’s important to establish your one-rep max for the Hang Clean, Back Squat, Bench Press, Barbell Press, Hang Snatch, Incline Bench, Clean Pull, Power Clean and Split Jerk. These exercises require you to concentrate, strain and put forth large amounts of force. They demand both mental toughness and commitment. “Strength gains are gradual, so you can’t take long breaks from training and still show consistent growth,” Moffitt says.
• Weeks 1 through 4 are designed with more reps to recruit hypertrophy [increases in muscle size], develop basic strength and help you perfect lifting technique for each exercise
• Carefully follow the gradual increases of your max percentage for each lift, because that is how strength will build over the 12 weeks
• Weeks 4, 8 and 12 are “downloading” phases, so there will be a decrease in your max percentage for each lift
• For the Light Barbell Press [Lift 4 on Mondays], stand-don’t sit. Football is played on your feet, and standing during the lift works everything from your ankles to your wrists, which adheres to the total-body philosophy
• On Monday and Friday workouts, you can substitute the Chin-ups/Lat Pull Circuit [Lift 5] for Barbell or Dumbbell Rows. You can gain weight and add muscle quickly by developing your upper and lower back
• Monday and Friday workouts: After working your back, immediately do some sort of compound shoulder exercise—Pushups or Dips, whatever you prefer—but no matter what, hit it hard
• For Weighted Sit-ups [Lift 8 on Mondays and Fridays, Lift 9 on Wednesdays] start with a 50-pound dumbbell and work your way up once you perfect technique and reps
• For Ab Circuits [Lift 9 on Mondays and Fridays, Lift 10 on Wednesdays], following this progression will properly condition your core:
Set 1: Upper body resistant-flexion [Sit-ups]
Set 2: Lower body resistant-flexion [Hanging-Leg Raises]
Set 3: Rotational abs [Russian Twists]
Set 4: Rotational abs [Lateral Leg Raises]
Set 5: Static Abs [Front or Side Plank]
Though the program may look basic at first glance, don’t confuse it with being easy. Success at the end of 12 weeks is directly correlated with your personal work ethic. “Only you can make yourself do the program when no one else is around, and only you can make yourself give it all you’ve got when no one else is watching,” Moffitt says.
Proof of the Program’s Success
• 2008 BCS National Championship
• Two 2007 AP All-Americans [Defensive Tackle Glenn Dorsey and Safety Craig Steltz]
• 2007 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Winner [Dorsey]
• Ten 2007 All-SEC Players
• Seven draftees in the 2008 NFL Draft, including DT Glenn Dorsey, CB Chevis Jackson, FB Jacob Hester and WR Early Doucet