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Need a football workout!

So my football coach has asked me to lead the off-season weightlifting as I am the most experienced at lifting weights on the team. I play for a 6-man tackle football team and we will be going to 11 man which requires a lot more strength than what we have right now. We won't start lifting weights until the off-season comes, but I'm suppose to have a workout planned and handed in to the coach by next week. I really stress proper form and taking your time to make sure you do every rep correctly I just need workouts for football, the only exercises I know that are effective are bench press, clean and press, dead lift. I'm really puzzled about how to set up this workout. Please if you know of effective exercises to gain strength for football post them. And again I'm not gonna screw up the team I know what I'm doing when I lift weights I just need workouts for the routine.

First things first; what are your qualifications to handle this program? In all honesty, if your coach is putting this job over to you, as a student/player, then he is probably not a very good coach. While you say you perform the exercises correctly, who is the one checking up on you to make sure that you are honest in your technique? Who is coaching you? Also, as an athlete, you are going to be lifting with the team. Which means you can’t be coaching. This presents a real problem. If you are a coach, then coach. If you are a lifter, then lift. But don’t do both at the same time. Nothing good ever comes of that. Also, I would make sure you have a certification and some personal trainers insurance incase something goes wrong.

That said I would start with an evaluation. You need to have some way to assess each player’s limitations and abilities. Before putting anyone under the bar and before initiating a strength and conditioning program, you must evaluate the athlete’s current level of preparedness. You are just asking for programs for football. Unfortunately, this is not as “cookie-cutter” as you are making it out to be. Different players are at different levels and some athletes progress and develop quicker than others. You need a way to figure out where everyone is.

Once you evaluate the team, you should break them into small groups depending on their levels and abilities. The kids who need the most coaching and have the most limitations are the ones that you will need to pay the most attention too. I don’t know how much time you have to devote to the weight room. I would probably stick with something that is 3x’s a week. Either a total body training program or an upper/lower/upper split works very well. The latter would be good, especially if you have to spend more time on speed and conditioning work during the week, as you are only training legs once a week and you can ensure that they will be fresh for running.

Basic exercises work. Things like push ups, pull ups/chin ups, body weight rows (supine row), squats, and deadlifts are very effective. You just have to make sure that you can coach these lifts and teach them. Just because you can perform them yourself, does not mean that you understand them enough to cue others when learning them. Power cleans are excellent but only if done properly. Again, you need to be 100% sure you can teach this lift, otherwise you will be doing more harm than good. I wrote a blog entry last month on squat progressions. This may be helpful for you when setting up your teams program. Single leg exercises like split squats, lunges, and step ups are also very good. What I would do is keep things very simple. If you go all the way back to the first 3 blog entries I have ever made here, I lay out some basic program ideas that will serve you well when setting up your teams program.

I would make sure to do some sort of abdominal work. I like things like plank and bridge exercises personally. Also, if you are going to be doing plyometrics, use the first parts of the off-season to teach deceleration and landing mechanics. Teaching landing mechanics is critical to getting the most out of your plyometric program when you move into the power phase of your training and start to do more extensive movements. Jump squat stick the landing, One-two-stick, and box jumps are all good choices.

Make sure to have a flexibility program in place for the athletes so that after training, they stretch our and make sure to have a warm up in place so that they are prepared to train when they come in. These two aspects are often over-looked.

As far as setting things up goes, look to work in phases where you are developing certain qualities. Since it sounds like these are all beginners you are working with, the first phase of training is going to be just teaching and development of basic movements/skills. Also, that phase should be one where you are developing work capacity. From there, things could look something like this:

Phase 1: teaching exercises/movement development/work capacity
Phase 2: Strength emphasis
Phase 3: Power emphasis

As you can see, this is going to be a real project for you and something that you need to sit down and think about. You have to have a really good system to make it all work and then you have to be able to run that system and actually coach the athletes.

I threw a lot of ideas at you. Hopefully you can use some of them to develop your program. I don’t know the kind of situation you are in or the background of the players, so you will have to take from this what you can use and discard that which doesn’t apply to you.

Good Luck,
Patrick