Summer is winding down, which means one thing: football season is almost here. In just a few weeks, high school teams will be battling it out on the gridiron. Until then, training camps and conditioning regimens are in full swing to get teams prepped for championship seasons. For individual players, maintaining preseason conditioning throughout the year can be a challenge, but doing so can provide key advantages and momentum for football season. Here are six key exercises designed to create lightning response times and build the strength necessary for the long season.
High Intensity Interval Training Intervals
Nobody wants to spend hours on cardio equipment, especially when that kind of endurance training can burn precious muscle. Intervals are a great way to efficiently increase oxygen capacity while building the kind of fast twitch muscles that will give you next-level responsiveness. A good place to start is with 30 seconds of a full-out sprint, followed by 2 minutes of jogging, repeated until you hit 30 minutes.
Dig out the jump rope from your attic or dad’s old gym, because it turns out jumping rope is a great way to isolate those fast-twitch muscle fibers that give you the ability to fire off the ball when snapped. This exercise also gives you agility and helps stabilize knees and ankles to avoid injury throughout a grueling season.
This one exercise is key to conditioning because it will work out your arms completely, from lats to wrists. At the beginning of this exercise, make sure to warm up with a light enough weight to ensure proper form, before increasing weight resistance to build and maintain total arm strength. The upright row is one of the most efficient exercises to maintain foundational strength for all the other drills and exercises football players experience.
The squat is a classic strength building move, and you’re probably already maxing out in your team’s weight room every week. But this variation, using only body weight, not only increases your vertical jumping capabilities, but also helps build your quads, glutes, and back while increasing muscle stamina that will give you a leg up on your competition when that game changing play is on the line. If you want to challenge yourself even further, combine this move with a burpee for a total-body exercise.
Mountain climbers are a simple exercise that will work out everything from your shoulders and core to your calves, while also building aerobic capacity. Total body exercises like this are a smart way to maintain the core and back strength necessary to prevent injury and provide stability. Focus on engaging your abs to get the most out of this move, which can be added to a strength training circuit to maintain your target heart rate for maximum fat burning.
While you may be stretching on the field before practices or games, prioritizing recovery on your own time can allow you to focus on specific muscle groups and joints that feel stiff. Adding in a foam roller is an even better way to loosen up and recover. While stretching may not seem like a good use of a busy athlete’s schedule, it’s vital to preventing injury and maintaining agility on the field. Stretching also allows you to perfect your form in the weight room, leading to better workouts and increased gains.
Remember, how you prepare your body off the field, will affect how well you perform on the field. These six exercises will help you achieve maximum performance during your football season, but they’re just scratching the surface of what strength and conditioning can do for you and your team.