This blog post on NFL Up! explains how you can learn some of the NFL’s best workout secrets and get football fit.
Step 1. Make sure you are staying healthy. All NFL players receive and must pass an extensive physical. These in-depth exams include such things as X-rays, MRIs, electrocardiograms and much more.
All young athletes/weekend warriors should start off their seasons by getting a physical from their personal physicians. This exam should include an evaluation of the lungs, heart, blood pressure, medical history, vision, abdomen, genitals, musculoskeletal and nervous system.
The purpose of the physical is to avoid any catastrophic medical event and determine if it is safe to allow the athlete to participate in football. All of this plays into becoming football fit.
- Basic Movement Screens
Many NFL players receive an in-depth movement analysis of their whole body. These screens can lead medical staffs to prescribe specific corrective exercises to improve performance.
Here are two simple, at-home movement screens you can do:
»(10) Pain-free pushups on toes (on knees if a youth) while maintaining a straight line from the shoulders to the ankles (no sagging or arching in the lower back region)
»(5) Pain-free single leg squats softly touching the buttocks onto a chair and returning to the original single leg standing position
- Flexibility (Stretching) and Dynamic Warm-Up
Stretching and a dynamic warm-up are two separate entities. Stretching is primarily used to gain more range of motion in muscle whereas a dynamic warm-up is intended to increase the core temperature of the muscles and to prepare the muscles, joints and nervous system for an upcoming physical event.
Before an NFL game, you normally will see players going through a stretching routine that is followed by a dynamic warm-up. The keys muscles targeted on the athletes are the hip flexors, hamstring and calves (to name a few). The dynamic warm-up consists of a series of gradual movement drills such as jogging, high knees running, backpedaling, shuffles, carioca and other various change-of-direction movements performed for a length of 10-to-15 yards.
Proper planning built into the practice/pregame routine, consisting of stretching followed by a dynamic warm-up, will help maximize performance.
- Football Specific Conditioning (Running/Agility Drills)
NFL players prepare for the season with five months of specific and progressive running and agility drills. This is why you can see some of the most exciting athletic feats on this planet every Sunday!
For the young athlete/weekend warrior, running position specific sprints and agility drills (change-of-direction running and agility drills that somewhat mimic the specific position requirements that occur during a game) are important for becoming perfectly football fit.
As a reference, a typical NFL game averages only 11 minutes of live action. That doesn’t sound like a lot. But in one game, a defensive back on average will run about 1,400 yards, which are broken up in to 50 to 80 plays that average four to five seconds. The average amount of yardage per play is 17 yards of running. (Lineman run on average between 400 to 600 yards in a game.) Therefore, in order to improve performance, running and agility drills must match the requirements of the specific positions.
- Participate in a Strength/Power Development Program
NFL players are some of the most powerful athletes in the world! That’s why the NFL is so popular. The players spend months training their bodies to improve their strength and power and become bigger, faster and stronger.
For the young athlete/weekend warrior, developing your leg, hip, core and upper body muscles is imperative. During the season, it is important to understand that you CAN IMPROVE strength and power. This can be accomplished by a “wave-cycle” program (popularized by world renown strength coach, Daniel Baker, from Australia). This program simply involves changing the volume (total amount of reps and sets in a workout) and the intensity (the amount of resistance/effort) on a weekly or biweekly basis.
For example, a week or more of a strength training program at three sets of 10 repetitions (below 70 percent of one rep max of that particular exercise) maybe followed by a week or more of higher intensity training (four sets of four reps at 90 percent of one rep max) with a lower volume of total exercises in that daily program than the previous phase. Then this phase could be followed up by a power phase (three to four sets of six reps at 70 to 80 percent of one rep max). Football fit
Furthermore, depending where you are in the season, as far as length of games, injuries, weather, etc., the program might switch to light intensity, high rep for a week or so. This wave-like program will avoid plateaus with its strength and power and will keep the workouts interesting. Football fit
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