Old Lifts with a New Twist

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By Josh Staph


Every football player's lifting routine needs a healthy dose of squatting to build his glutes, hamstrings and core. Strength in all of these areas, especially the core, is essential for football.

The Twist: Lose the belt and activate the core. Tie a cord around your core at belly button level so that it's tight against your stomach when relaxed. Then, when you perform squats, keep your abs drawn in so tension in the cord doesn't change.

The Payoff: Stronger, more stable abs and low back transfer power from your legs when you deliver a blow.


This football-training staple is the best way to improve your explosive power. It can help you jump higher, run faster and deliver more punishing hits.

The Twist: Stop relying on those canvas straps to do the work for you. They won't help you make plays on Friday nights, so lose 'em.

The Payoff: When you first perform Cleans without straps, you'll have to use lighter weight. But your temporarily bruised ego will recover when your grip develops enough to begin Cleaning your original weight.


This movement isolates the upper abs to create a tremendous burn. But getting the burn and building a six-pack do not by themselves make you a better football player.

The Twist: Get your butt off the ground and use exercises that work all parts of your core together, forcing it to stabilize. Try Bridges and Side Bridges for 30-second holds.

The Payoff: Chris Carlisle, USC's head strength and conditioning coach, says the only time you perform the crunching motion on the football field is when you're bent over in the huddle. A core that is strong and stable the whole way through helps you absorb and deliver contact.


Although perfect for working the strength and stability of your chest, shoulders and triceps, there is always room for improvement.

The Twist: Place a bar on the ground in front of you. As you perform push-ups using your original form, grip the bar instead of placing your hands flat on the floor.

The Payoff: Danny Arnold, trainer to Julius Peppers and Charles Woodson, uses this technique when prepping his athletes for the Combine's 225-bench test. He says it enhances stability because you have to keep the bar in perfect position by tightening your core and stabilizing your shoulders—or else the bar rolls around.

Bicep Curl

This favorite of beach-body wannabes does have functional attributes. Strong arms help you tackle opponents and hold onto the ball. They look cool popping out of your pads, too.

The Twist: Flip your grip and do reverse curls. When you use this grip, keep your elbows tight to your ribs.

The Payoff: The exercise becomes more functional, because it builds your forearms and grip, which help you with blocking, tackling and ball protection.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock