**(Originally written for my client Four EL magazine, August 2013 issue)
It’s hard to believe football season is just around the corner – pre-season starts this month! It may mark the end of summer madness and mean shorter days, but just about all of us enjoy a get together with the boys for Sunday afternoon football. And in the spirit of football season, we bring you this month’s NFL workout: It’s all about training for power, agility, quickness and explosiveness! Try this training circuit 2 to 3 days per week for a full-body, functional workout which combines power-lifting, plyometrics, agility and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) strategies. Think of it is as your own summer training camp!
If you have a buddy or child who’s also into it, then head out to your nearest sports’ equipment store and pick up an official NFL football. If you don’t already own one, you’ll need one for the optional partner-portion of this workout: That’s right – you’ve probably forgotten how fun it is to simply go outside and run pass-patterns, trading off with your buddy as Quarterback and receiver, while at the same time accomplishing an absolutely phenomenal sprinting and agility workout! Invite a 3rd buddy or child, and now you’ve got somebody to play Defensive-Back to cover the receiver! The more the merrier, and the more competitive.
American Football involves short-bursts of very high intensity, maximum physical effort. These athletes operate completely in the anaerobic (without oxygen), fast-twitch, type-2 muscle fiber zone, using stored muscle glycogen and (naturally occurring) creatine-phosphate for energy. Even though the bouts of effort are very short in duration, the intensity level is so high, that there is a long, follow-on recovery period known as EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption), mainly due to oxygen debt, where one’s metabolism is elevated for several hours post-game. Power, quickness and agility are more important here than aerobic endurance or brute strength. Ligaments and tendons need to be just as well conditioned as the associated muscle groups. This type of training produces a lean-muscular, aesthetically appealing physique as a bonus! Okay are you ready to get started?
**Warm up properly to avoid injury & learn the proper technique. If unsure skip the exercise.
**Perform the following exercises in a ‘circuit’ manner, with minimal rest in between, no more than one minute, in order to make the work-out higher in intensity and to incorporate cardio emphasis as well. Perform 3 complete circuits for a total of 3 sets of each exercise/station. You can re-arrange the order of these exercises or substitute them as you see fit for your goals and equipment and/or space available.
1. Power Cleans: Can be done with a standard Olympic barbell, dumbbells, or a kettlebell. Use a load that allows you to perform 8 to 12 reps. Explode from the floor and focus on using your hips.
2. Burpees: (A Burpee is a full-body functional movement done as quickly as possible, where you begin standing, drop down to the ground, do a squat-thrust, do a push-up, and then jump back up to your feet, as high as possible). Do 10 reps. 3 sets total.
3. (Plyometric) Box Jumps: Using any kind of available box, bench or ledge, peform 10 reps of standing vertical jumps up onto the box top. Step down & repeat.
4. (Space Permitting) Bear Crawls: Bear crawl as fast as possible for 40 yards. If not enough space is avail, substitute with mountain-climbers for 1 minute.
5. (Space Permitting) High-Knee Skips: 40 yards back to your starting point. If not enough space is avail, substitute with jumping-rope for 1 minute.
6. Barbell Bench-Press: Use a weight that allows you to perform at least 10 reps. If a bench-press is not available to you do push-ups instead, where you explode off the ground and become momentarily airborne.
7. Pull-ups: Try for at least 10-15 reps using your body-weight, or just do your best. If a pull-up bar is unavailable, then do bent-over-rows with a barbell or dumbbells, being extra cautious with your form.
8. Agility-Ladder/Cones or Tires: Lay-out an agility-ladder or course, made with cones or tires, and as quickly as possible, step through or around the obstacles while bringing your knees up as high as possible.
9. Tire-Flip or Dead-lifts: If available flip a large tractor tire for 10 yards as quickly as possible. If a large tire is not available to you, perform a set of deadlifts using either an Olympic barbell or a Kettlebell and use a weight that will allow you to complete 6 to 8 reps.
10. Optional after 3 of the above circuits are completed: Pass-patterns with a partner and football. More sprints, or calesthenics, or stair-running intervals as you see fit.