The Football Workout that Gets Results

Football workout results

Anyone can strap on a set of pads, but if you have skinny arms and a gut like this guy, a little mohawk ain’t gonna save you. You’re going to get crushed out on the field.

Football is one tough sport. It requires a mixture of speed, agility, and strength like no other. You’ll find world class sprinters on the field with some of the world’s strongest men, that also happen to be fleet of foot and more agile than any 320lb individual has a right to be. The collisions are, in the words of an NFL Pro Bowl strong safety I was talking with (who definitely should know) “Like being in a car crash.”

If you’re trying to get ready for the season, or if you just want to look like you could play, here is a football workout that can take you there. Strength and conditioning is key, and there is no sense in waiting for the season  to improve yours.


Football is all about explosive power. To that end, you’ll need to exercise the lifts explosively. It makes sense, really. Since football requires explosive power, you’ll have to workout accordingly. In almost any athletic event, most of your power comes from your hips and legs and is transferred through your abdominal region, so that will have to be strong as well.

Here is the football workout that can take you where you want to go, if you have the balls to get there.

Remember, always go hard, a little bit of puking never hurt anybody! You can get knocked on your ass or be the one doing the knocking, it’s up to how hard you work out.

Thoroughly warm up – Do about 5 minutes of light work on a bike or treadmill, and do a couple of high rep / light weight sets for a body part before you begin the main workout.

Day 1 –
Weight room:
Power Cleans –
Power cleans are one of the best overall power builders. They hit almost every muscle and give you the strength to fight through blocks or flatten tacklers.
6 sets of 6 – 8 reps

Squats – Someone once said “You ain’t done nothin’ if you ain’t been squattin’” It was back in the ’70’s, and I don’t remember who it was, but they were right on the money. Squats suck, they hurt, and they feel oppressive, but the fact remains that they will give you lower body power like almost nothing else can. Do squats right after power cleans for a real burn. Concentrate on being explosive, and squats will give you the power to get out of your stance and off the line.
4 sets of 6 –  10 reps

Overhead Dumbbell Presses –
A few sets of overhead dumbbell presses will finish off for the shoulders what power cleans started. These are better for leaving your shoulder joints intact than using a barbell for

You’ve got to carry the iron if you’re going to get into shape for football, only you don’t have to take it as literally as this guy!

overhead presses. Great for delts and traps, with a nice bit of work for your triceps thrown in, too.
4 sets of 6 – 10 reps

Upright Dumbbell rows
Overhead rows are one of the best upper body strength building exercises around. Unfortunately, doing these things with a bar can lead to all sorts of shoulder problems down the road. One way to avoid shoulder problems is to switch from using a bar to dumbbells. That’s pretty common for overhead press exercises, but less so for upright rows. If you’ve never thought about using dumbbells for them, grab a set the next time you’re doing shoulders.

These are very beneficial for football because they add strength and size to your entire neck and shoulder region, with strong secondary stress on the forearms and biceps for good measure.
3 sets of 8 – 10 reps

Day 2
Abs, obliques, and agility.

All the power in your body flows through your core. In addition, there is nothing to keep your guts from falling our except your abdominal muscles. Your performance on the field will suffer if you don’t suffer through 3 or 4 brutal ab and oblique workouts each week. Start now and you’ll be ready for 2-a-days at the end of summer. I have a link at the end of this post for the most scientifically effective ab and oblique workout.

Speed and Agility Drills –
Do any two of these drills each day 2, day 4, and day 6 workout. Mix them up and do not use the same two every day.

10-20-30-40-30-20-10 shuttle run –
This thing is absolutely brutal if you go all out, and really what other way is there? Remember, there is always someone trying to take your spot. If you want them to get all your playing time, just slack off a bit.

These shuttle runs will help your endurance, quickness, and agility. Start at the goal line and sprint to the 10 yard line, touch it, and sprint back to the goal line. Touch the goal line and then sprint to the 20, touch it and return to the goal line. Repeat this for the 30 and 40 yard line, then do the 30, 20, and 10 yard sprints over again. When you’re done, you will have sprinted 320 yards. The turning, plus all that starting and stopping helps out your quickness, and the sprinting helps your speed and endurance. Do not run low and bent over just to be able to touch the yard markers more quickly and improve your time. This isn’t about your time, it’s about improving your football skills. Run more upright, then get down to touch the line.

Wait about 1 minute, then do another set. Do at least 3 sets of shuttles, but preferably 5.

Cut Drill
Start out at the goal line. Run to the 5 and cut to the sidelines, sprint 5 yards, then cut up field and sprint toward the far end zone for 20 yards.
Do 10 of these, and alternate the direction of your first cut.

Hill sprints
Sorry for all of you who live in Kansas or New York City, but for the rest of you, these are great for boosting speed. Do 10 sprints up a moderately steep, grass covered hill. Make each sprint 30 – 40 yards. You may have to look some to find it, but it will be worth it. Every few workouts, do about 5 of these while running backwards.

Cone Drill
Place cones at irregular intervals over the length of about 30 yards and run a slalom course through them. At the end, touch the ground, turn around, and run back through the course.
5  – 7 reps

Day 3
Weight Room

On thing football players need is a big, strong neck. Shrugs will develop your traps and help keep your head where is belongs; on your shoulders and in the game. Start with your arms at

Nothing like shrugs for getting rid of the ole’ pencil neck!

the front of your chest and pull your shoulders as far as possible up towards your ears, then roll your shoulders back and lower the weight. Although this is often thought of as a shoulder exercise, shrugs mainly work the trapezius muscle, which is really part of your back.
Use fairly heavy weights so you can do only  6 – 8 reps.

Wide grip pull ups – bar in front.
These are a tremendous upper body power builder. Pull your body up without doing any kind of contortions or leg swinging, so the bar hits your upper chest. Don’t do these behind the neck, it puts your shoulders at a mechanical disadvantage and can cause all kinds of shoulder problems. You’ll get enough of those on the field, no sense in getting them in the weight room.
3 sets of as many as you can. If you get to 12 reps with great form, start adding weight. You’ll look pretty impressive doing wide grip pullups with a 45 hanging off your waist.

Seated rows
These are a great back builder and they help add power to your entire back, upper and lower. Lean forward at the beginning of the movement, then straighten up to vertical as you pull the weight in toward your chest. Make sure you pull your shoulder blades all the way back at the end of the contraction phase.  Your hands should end up between your belly button and your waist, not up at your chest, or you’re doing too much with your biceps, and giving your back a pass.
3 sets of 10

Flat bench press
Okay here it is, the weight room staple you’ve all been waiting for. It is one of the best upper body power exercises you can find, and one of the top 3 weight exercises I’d recommend if

The bench press is one of the best upper body power exercises ever, and great for football.

you had to do only 3. (the other 2 being  the power clean and squat) Using dumbbells contributes to overall strength better than using a bar because of all the stabilizing muscles it uses in addition to the main targets; the pectorals, deltoids and triceps. Using dumbbells can help prevent injuries as well, or let you bench if you’ve got shoulder problems already.

If you’re in college the fact remains that you’ll probably be tested on the pro bench at some point, so you should use the bar on occasion just to see how many times you can blast out 225.

This is one exercise where explosive counts more than almost any other. Go down slow (about 2 – 3 seconds down, pause for 1 second with tension on your muscles, then blast out the rep as powerfully as you can. Use a spotter to get at least 1 forced rep, but have them help as little as possible)

Occasionally use a declining weight scheme, where you’ll do a set of 10, then on the next set you’ll add weight and go down to 8 reps, add weight and do a set of  6 reps, add weight and go to 4 reps, then add weight and do a set of 2 reps. Weight about 60 – 90 seconds between sets. Do this instead of the standard 4 set bench workout about every 4th – 6th bench workout.

4 sets of 6 reps

Incline dumbbell bench press
Everything I said for the flat bench press holds true for the incline press, except for the part about the pro bench, they don’t test using the incline. The incline press shifts emphasis off the pectorals somewhat, and places it more on the upper pectorals, deltoids and triceps. Another fantastic upper body power exercise for football. Think about it’s applications for blocking and getting past O-linemen.

Do 4 reps for these the same way you did them for the flat bench press, and once in while change to the declining weight scheme as well.

Lying tricep extensions
Lie on your back with a dumbbell in each hand and your upper arm toward your head so it is at about 80 degrees of elevation, instead of keeping them completely vertical. Angling your arms slightly off vertical keeps tension on the triceps and works the long head of the triceps muscle more efficiently. Lower the weights to each side of your head. Without letting your upper arm move at all, lift the weight back to the starting position. Your arms should be straight at the beginning and end of the movement.
4 sets of 8 reps

Dips are one of the best all around upper body exercises. They’ll blast your chest shoulders, and triceps like almost nothing else. If you start to be able to do them for more than about 12 reps, just add some weight. Be careful about doing them too fast, as they can be a recipe for shoulder problems., Great for giving you the power to shed blockers as you go around to get the QB.
3 sets of 8 – 12 reps

Dumbbell curls

Curls help the biceps, which are important in football for many things, including holding on to the ball when people are trying to rip it from your hands, and tackling, although many players rely too much on their arms to tackle, especially at the high school andcollege levels.

One thing that is very effective at increasing biceps development and adding grip strength is to start with your palms facing the body, then rotate them so they are facing up as you finish the curl. Rotate them back again as you lower the weight.
4 sets of 6 – 8 reps.

Machine preacher curls
Preacher curls put a pad under your upper arms to isolate the biceps. Using a machine allows resistance to still be highnear the end of the rep, whereas using a weight would make the resistance near the completion of the rep fall off, due to the angle of the movement compared to vertical, where gravity acts upon the weight the most. These are fantastic for increasing biceps strength and size. No only will they help your play on the field, they’ll make your arms look impressive sticking out of your jersey this fall.

Day 4 – Repeat Day 2

Day 5 – Day Off

After the 5th day,start back on day 1 Again. Repeat as necessary, or until you’re starting.

If you start on these now, you’ll be a force when 2 a day’s come around in August. Maybe you’ll be able to finally get that starting spot, or keep it from that upstart junior whose been nipping at your heels. Weather you’re playing football, or want to lose fat and bulk up a bit so you’ll look like you do, this workout will get you in top shape.

To make sure your abs and obliques are up to the task, see my post on the best ab workout from a few months ago. It’s unlike anything else you’ve done for abs, and even better, it is  lab proven by a major university. Your 6-pack will be happy you did!

Want to Improve your Game Fast?

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Watch this football video – It’s a truly amazing play, but could Trinity have gone down if the other team was better conditioned?