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Recommended exercises for off-season training program

This is an excerpt from Strength Training for Football by NSCA -National Strength & Conditioning Association,Jerry Palmieri & Darren Krein.

Structure of the Program

The off-season program is a four-days-per-week split routine with the upper body trained on Monday and Thursday and the lower body trained on Tuesday and Friday. Wednesday is an off day.

The week begins with an upper body training session, since lower body training sessions are likely to be more stressful on the neuromuscular system due to the relatively larger amount of muscle mass involved and the heavier loads typically lifted when training the lower body. Coming off a weekend when it is uncertain what the athletes did or did not do, it is safer to have a workout that will not overly stress the neuromuscular system. Tuesday will be a lower body training session that will put greater stress on the neuromuscular system. Wednesday becomes an off day other than the use of recovery modalities to enhance the recovery process. Thursday and Friday become the second upper and lower body training days, respectively.

Table 9.2 shows a weekly schedule for the four-days-per-week split routine.

Table 9.2 Weekly Schedule: Four-Days-a-Week Split Routine

Recommended Exercises

The off-season resistance training program should be designed to develop the best possible football athlete, not an Olympic lifter, powerlifter, or bodybuilder. Although exercises from these other sports will be used in the program, they are programmed in a way to maximize the performance of the football athlete.

Total Body Exercises

These total body exercises are specific to the off-season and other seasons where noted.

  • Dumbbell clean complex involves multiple exercises that together train the entire body with relatively moderate to light weight. It is used in the preparation phase to train the various movements and increase the athlete’s work capacity.
  • Kettlebell (KB) swings develop the great hip extension that is needed for blocking and tackling. KB swings are also performed during the preseason.
  • Muscle snatch is used in the first phase of the program to emphasize the full extension of the hips and knees that is needed to perform the power clean and power snatch.
  • Power clean, one-arm dumbbell snatch, and power snatch are all explosive or power exercises that involve a quick generation of force from the hips and legs. Snatch pulls are done in phases 1 and 2, while the one-arm dumbbell snatch is done in the variation week in preparation for the power snatches that will be performed in phase 2. Hang cleans from the mid-thigh position followed by front squats are good technique exercises leading up to the power cleans that will be done in phase 2.
  • Power clean complex, power clean combo, and dumbbell clean to push press are all combination exercises that create variation and efficient use of training time. The dumbbell clean to push press is also used in-season.
  • Push jerk is an excellent exercise for generating force from the hips and legs into the arms. Since football is a pushing sport, one has to generate force from one’s hips and legs while trying to drive the opponent backwards. The push jerk is also incorporated into the preseason program.
  • Snatch pulls and clean pulls are shorter pull variations of the power snatch and power clean, allowing the athlete to use heavier loads. These movements are simpler to learn and can be used solely by a coach who is not confident in teaching the power snatch and the power clean. Clean pulls will also be performed during the preseason.
  • Clean and jerk is an excellent combination exercise involving two key movements in the program, the power clean and the push jerk. Clean and jerk is done in the preseason as well.
More Excerpts From Strength Training for Football



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