One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to football training, and your child can benefit from exercises and drills that correspond to his specific position.
While receivers and backs need long-distance running skills and leaping ability, lineman use more strength and explosive power in their play. Creating workouts that help prepare your son for a season of playing the defensive or offensive line will should include game-like movements and durations for maximum success.
1. Develop an annual schedule
Lineman should not simply lift weights and run miles all year long. You might be surprised to learn that this type of training during the season can actually decrease performance. Create a year-round training schedule that emphasizes the following:
- Off-season: Muscle-building, aerobic conditioning
- Pre-season: Explosive strength, reactive power, endurance, recovery
- In-season: Explosive strength, reactive power, endurance, recovery
- Post-season: Active rest, light aerobic low-impact workouts
With a coordinated, year-round training program, known as a periodization schedule, you’ll make your child’sr workouts more game-like as you get closer to the season and continue that type of specific training during the season. This means lifting heavy weights and running miles in the off-season, moving toward pre-season and in-season workouts should consist of short, intense bursts of activity followed by recovery each time.
2. Build muscle
Football lineman start plays with short bursts of power that require muscular strength, especially in the legs. During the offseason, lineman should work on building muscular strength by lifting heavy weights. For young football players, a 3 x 5 workout using about 50 percent of the maximum weight they can lift one time is a good starting point.
Using an amount of weight that is difficult to lift, have kids perform three slow reps of an exercise, take a short break, then perform three more reps of the same exercise again. Perform five sets of the exercise, then take a break of several minutes and start a new exercise. Re-check each child’s max each week, which is the maximum amount of weight he can lift one time before failure. As his max increases, increase the amount of weight he uses for his reps, building to 60 percent, then 70 percent of his max to perform his 3 X 5 reps.
Include squats, deadlifts and leg presses to work the legs. Perform bench presses, biceps curls, side arm raises and rows to work the chest and arms. Work with a certified strength and conditioning coach at least once to help determine what weights each child should use, the best exercises to perform and how to avoid injury and maximize results with proper technique.
3. Improve explosive strength
Explosive strength is the ability to make one powerful movement in one direction. Check out our article on explosive strength to learn how to create the right workout for linemen.
4. Increase reactive power
Reactive power comes from combining two movements, such as bending down before jumping up. Add these types of drills to your child’s workouts during the pre-season and continue them throughout the season. These nine exercises can help your child improve reactive power and vertical leap, which can come in handy for lineman trying to block passes.
5. Incorporate endurance training
Endurance is the ability to use your muscles over long periods, such as a three-hour football game. A circuit-training workout is a fun, effective way to build and maintain muscular endurance. Use enough weight or resistance to get your child’s heart rate up and tire within two minutes.
However, exercise at a pace that doesn’t require your child to need long breaks. To work on cardiorespiratory endurance (heart and lungs), use less resistance and exercise at a higher heart rate. If you’re working on muscles in their arms, legs, chest, back and core, use enough resistance that their muscles start fatiguing by the end of the circuit. You can use dumbbells, resistance bands or bodyweight exercises to help accomplish this.
6. Work on recovery
Any lineman knows that you don’t get tired during a play – it’s after each play that you’re struggling to catch your breath and recover in time for the next play. To get in the best shape possible, football lineman need to use interval training to improve their ability to recover after each play. This will help them replenish a key chemical they’ve depleted from their muscles during the play and remove some of the lactic acid that’s building up.
Start this training at approximately 70 percent of their maximum heart rate or effort level for about 60 seconds, followed by a 60-second break. As they get in better shape, you can increase their intensity and decrease the recovery times. Lineman, who tend to carry extra weight and fat, should keep their heart rates no higher than 80 percent of their max and exercise at this pace for no more than two minutes before taking a break. Limit these workouts to 15 minutes each practice.