Football players need ground-based power, core strength, and explosive upper bodies. This combination is especially important for offensive and defensive linemen. Like Sumo wrestlers, linemen face off in a pushing contest where the lowest and strongest always wins.
To develop mobility and power, every football lineman should include the Front Squat to Press in his workout. The Front Squat improves hip mobility, allowing you to drop deeper into position with better posture than a Back Squat. It also develops your ability to push harder into the ground with your feet and express force in the opposite direction with your hands. Holding the bar in front develops core bracing strength.
Front Squat to Press
Do this 2 to 3 times weekly on leg day or in conjunction with a total body workout. The Front Squat to Press can replace Back Squats on leg day. Or you can do it as an accessory to Back Squats or in the conditioning as a finisher.
- Pick up the barbell with your hands in a front-loaded position—hands the same width as the outside point of your collar bones, elbows 90 degrees to your chest, and up high.
- Step out of the rack with your feet hip-width apart.
- Breathe in and tighten your core.
- Keeping your core tight and your back straight and flat, lower yourself to the bottom squat position (thighs parallel to the floor or lower).
- Push into the ground through your heels to stand up with force. Carry this momentum as you press the weight overhead, pausing in the overhead position.
- In the overhead position, the bar is directly over your head, your arms are straight, your wrists are over your elbows, your elbows are over your shoulders, and your shoulders are over your hips.
- Lower the bar back into the front, hold the position in a controlled manner and repeat.
- Start light with just the bar or a PVC pipe to master the technique and squatting depth.
- Advanced athletes can triple-extend in the overhead lock-out position (go up on the balls of your feet). Triple extension is going from your hips, knees and ankles bent to a sequential straightening of hips, knees, and ankles. It is the basis for all athletic movements.
Sets/Reps: 5×6-8 with two-minute rest between sets.
RELATED: Front Squat 101: A How-To Guide
Dumbbell Squat to Press. In this version, hold a pair of dumbbells instead of a barbell. Start with light dumbbells and only increase weight when the form is perfect for all five sets of 8 reps). The dumbbells add difficulty with balance and control while helping to fix right- and left-arm strength differences.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Squat to Press. This is exactly what it sounds like. You hold and squat press only one dumbbell at a time. This adds a higher level of conditioning to the exercise by doubling the number of Squats. Additionally, core strength is challenged by stabilizing against a single weight held overhead.
Med Ball Front Squat to Press Finisher. For a cardio blast at the end of the workout, use Med Ball Front Squat to Press wall throws. Instead of a barbell or dumbbell, use a relatively heavy rubber med ball held at chest height. Drop to a full squat and explosively stand up. At the top of the movement, press the med ball up into the air (think about shooting a basketball), aiming at a high point on a brick or concrete wall. Catch the med ball and repeat. This drill can be done in a lot of ways—most hits in 60 seconds, the first athlete to 100 throws, and others. Make it fun and competitive.
Include these exercise variations in your lineman workout program this off-season, and you will develop the power you need to throw your opponents off the line of scrimmage on game day.