When it comes to all the various sports from around the world, few have the same exciting impact as American football. The gridiron is a place where many go to test their strength, agility, and skill at moving the ball down the field. Not everyone can be the quarterback, though, and there are many positions on an American football team which play a crucial support role. From blockers on the offensive line to defensive tackles scrambling to force a fumble, there's a role for every kind of athlete to play. When you're primarily interested in being down on the line of scrimmage, though, you're going to need more than just speed and agility: you're going to need strength, too. Otherwise, how else are you going to hold back hundreds of pounds of determined defenders when you're trying to protect against the pass rush? Developing and sticking to a strength training regimen specifically designed for American football players is important. It offers you the chance to correct the weaknesses in your game while making yourself stronger and tougher. Hitting the gym without any clear direction of purpose, though, is only going to lead to frustration. To make it simpler, let's break down the various methods and approaches you can use to improve your strength training before the next time you gear up and hit the field.
Which muscle groups should you target?
Jumping straight into the weight room and hitting every weight machine and bench you can find isn't a recipe for making gains. Instead, it's often a path that can lead to injury or frustration when you don't see the benefits you want. Based on the positions you like to play and the motions you go through most frequently in a game, you can tailor your workout to target these muscle groups individually. Taking the time to understand how to focus your workouts on general strength training will help you with planning. So which muscle groups are you using the most in a game of football? When it comes to running and powering yourself forward, working out your quads, glutes, and hamstrings will yield the most benefit.
Stronger quads can enable you to jump higher so you can make that interception at a critical moment in the game. Good glutes and hamstrings will help you anchor your feet to the ground and hold the line when the offensive is struggling to create a gap for a runner. At the same time, your pectorals will help you keep your arms steady and strong against your opponent. Working on the deltoids in your arms is also a good idea if you plan on being in a position to catch passes frequently.
Your lower back gets quite a strenuous workout during the game, too. Core muscles including your abs help you to make the game-changing plays necessary, like when you need to twist around to deflect a pass headed for a receiver downfield. If it seems like football works out all the major muscles in your body ? well, you'd be right! Once again, it comes down to your primary focus.
Receivers should focus on arm and core workouts while linemen should focus on core and leg exercises. Mixing in other activities is important as well; you don't want to neglect one group just because you might use it less. Now that you know which muscles need attention, how do you give it to them?
Choosing the right strength training exercises for you
Let's first look at developing strength in your arms and upper body. Powerful arms are an invaluable asset on the football field. Before you even start counting up weights and adding them to bars, think about basic exercises you can do every day whether you're lifting or not. Push-ups build up your core and strengthen your arms at the same time. Regular push-ups not cutting it for you? Add weight to the equation by wearing weighted clothing designed for working out. This extra weight is an excellent way to warm up as well as to develop muscle; work towards about 60 pushups, broken up into five sets.
For weights, consider barbell curls. This basic exercise is an excellent way to begin powering up your arms and shoulders. Beyond that, though, there are many different options. The intensity of the workout is up to you; it depends on how many days each week you plan on training. A good rule of thumb to follow is to stick to about three sets of repetitions per exercise. Rotating between exercises regularly and switching up how you lift allows you to target different areas and maximize your gains.
For targeting the muscles in your back, chest, and even your shoulders all at once, nothing beats the value of the bench press. Spending more time developing your bench press ability will lay a foundation for excellent upper body strength you can use on the football field. Squats and curls are the best for legs, in addition to leg presses. These exercises push your quads and hamstrings to their max. Presses particularly will develop strength in your glutes, too. In conjunction with core workout exercises such as sit-ups and crunches, boosting strength in your legs is the result of a combination workout.
Make sure you are sticking to between six and twelve repetitions in each exercise set. A higher volume of reps aids in developing new muscle fiber. Hypertrophy training, undertaken over the course of about two months, is something else worth considering as well. Simply put, this is an approach to a training schedule meant to boost the size of your muscles, giving them a greater contracting power. In turn, your strength increases and your ability improves.
An intense targeted workout pushes muscles to repair and improve themselves over and over again. Slot your favored exercises into a hypertrophic schedule (many are available to adapt online) and push for the gains you want.
A proper diet is a critical part of strength parting
In between all of this heavy duty working out, your body is going to be pulling overtime to repair your muscles, develop new fiber, and increase muscle mass. If you aren't eating properly, you're going to struggle to bulk up and add strength. Giving your body the proper nutrients to reinvest back into growing your muscles is critical if you want to make real gains. What should you eat to help that happen? Lean protein is vital to assisting in the development of muscles while working out. That's why so many pro football players rely on protein-rich diets to help bulk. Because exercising and doing reps causes damage to your muscle, you want to encourage your body to begin immediately repairing and strengthening that tissue.
Kick-starting your body by having protein before your day's workout (and right after) is an excellent idea. Many athletes opt for protein shakes or powders which are easier to consume than, say, a grilled chicken breast. Mix your proteins up with some carb intake as well to catalyze your body into processing everything efficiently. Eat frequent meals while working on strength, and don't skimp on the fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce will supply your body with critical muscle building minerals like zinc and potassium.
Mix up your proteins, but stick to healthful choices like chicken, tuna, and salmon. A fatty steak every night isn't going to help you out, even though it might taste great. Finally, don't forget to drink plenty of water in between your exercise and the rest of your muscle mass building diet. Hydration is just as important as a consistent intake of healthy, wholesome calories.
Focus on working hard and delivering results
Regardless of the specific workout you formulate, sticking to these tips can help you bulk up and improve your strength on the American football field. Target your workouts, choosing which muscle groups will receive the most attention wisely. Mix up your routine so that your whole body gets some exercise on your workout days, and don't forget the value inherent in eating correctly, too. As you add muscle mass and put up better numbers in the weight room, don't be surprised when your confidence on and off the field goes up as well. With dedication and the drive to be a better competitor, you can tackle strength training and master it just like the game of football itself.