Football players are bigger, faster and stronger than ever. And the evolution of a faster style on the field has transformed all levels of football off-season training. No longer is the off-season only for adding slabs of muscle. It's also time to increase athleticism, power and football-specific movements.
Here is a training plan to get you started. You can develop explosive power, agility and breakneck speed to impress scouts and coaches—and to be the best you can be on the gridiron next fall.
Football Off-Season Training Program
The program consists of four one-week mesocycles, each emphasizing a specific skill.
- Week 1: Power and speed focus, moderate intensity, moderate volume
- Week 2: Power focus, moderate-to-high intensity, low volume
- Week 3: Recovery and hypertrophy focus, moderate-to-low intensity, high volume
- Week 4: Max strength focus, high intensity, moderate volume
Week 1: Power and Speed
Goal: Increase top speed and power with strength exercises and sprint work.
Overview: Perform speed work and unloaded plyometrics first in the workout. This is important for maximum performance gains.
Week 2: Power
Goal: Increase power production with speed-strength methods. Heavy Olympic lifts, weighted jumps and throws are emphasized.
Overview: Perform low-volume speed work first, followed by conservatively loaded plyometric exercises for power development. Follow Olympic lifts with compound strength exercises with little assistance work.
Week 3: Recovery and Hypertrophy
Goal: Increase volume and decrease intensity to allow for nervous system recovery, promote lean muscle gains and prepare for a heavy week ahead.
Overview: Perform low-intensity, high-volume speed work first, promoting conditioning. Use low-volume and low-intensity explosive movements to groove movement patterns without overloading the body. Strength work is low intensity, with workloads less than 65 percent. The emphasis is on higher volume to grow muscle.
Week 4: Maximum Strength
Goal: Add weight to the bar and increase strength levels.
Overview: High-intensity, low-volume plyometric and speed work primes the body for all-out strength work. Strength work is high intensity, with multiple sets over 85% 1RM to increase maximum strength. Overall workout volume is decreased.
Considerations and progression
Tailor your workouts to your abilities. Never compromise technique for big weights, especially if you are a young athlete. Reinforce abdominal bracing, joint stacking and proper posture in all exercises.
Off-season workouts should develop proper mechanics and reduce your risk of injury. Athletes involved in other sports should decrease training volume and speed/explosive work to avoid overtraining and promote recovery.
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