Weight Training Fundamentals


This information is primarily based on a DVD from the Football Legends of the Game series titled: Boyd Epley: Strength and Conditioning.

Warning: Get a physical every year. If you have health problems, consult a doctor before starting any new physical activity.

Why lift weights? Weight lifting is good for football players. It will make you stronger, faster, and less injury prone.

How to Get the Most Out of Weight Lifting

These four principles will help you get the most out of weight lifting. They are progressive. Each one builds on the foundation of the preceding principles.

1. Get started

2. Have a consistent routine

3. Choose good exercises and use proper technique

4. Lift with intensity and make incremental progress

Get Started. Get started with some type* of weight lifting, even push-ups* and crunches*, as soon as you can. (* Rest for 60 seconds between exercises instead of 10.)

Have a consistent routine. After you get started, make it a goal to have a consistent routine. If you choose to work out on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, then be consistent on those days. If you have to miss a day, make up for it by shifting to Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for that week. Make it your goal to never miss a work out. At this point, the type of lifting and even the intensity are not as important as developing good habits and discipline

Choose good exercises and use proper technique. Choose the best lifts (see Basic Strength Training below) and learn good technique. Always strive to use good technique on every lift. Good technique will help you avoid injury and will help you develop the muscles the lift is designed for. Have a coach watch you and give you pointers.

Lift with intensity. After you’ve developed good habits of never missing a work out and doing the weight lifting correctly, it’s time to focus on intensity. Each repetition should be done with an explosion of muscle power. The workouts as a whole should be intense at this point. You should know that you had a good work out (especially the day after). On the other hand, the workouts do not have to be long and to develop the type of muscle fibers that are good for football there should be rest periods between sets.

Make incremental progress. Finally, attempt to make progress at every session. For example, if you benched 160 lbs 12 times at the last session, increase the weight to 165. On the other hand, if you benched 160 lbs 6 times at the last session, strive to at least bench 165 lbs 7 times and if possible go for 8 or 9. By doing this you will make continual progress and over time you will get much stronger, faster, and more explosive.

Basic Strength Introduction

In addition to physical benefits, weight lifting has numerous psychological benefits such as improved confidence.

The focus, especially for younger athletes, should be on developing good techniques, good work habits, and good discipline, and on having fun.

Younger athletes should avoid lifting a weight that they can only lift one time (a 1 rep max). They should aim for 6 to 15 reps. To find the maximum weight the athlete can lift, use a one rep max calculator.

Here are some safety rules that should always be followed:

1. Avoid horse play.

2. Continuously work on good technique and have someone watch the athlete looking for ways to improve the technique.

3. Have the correct number of spotters for each exercise.

4. Do not use this basic weight lifting routine for rehabilitation.

5. Make sure there is plenty of space to maneuver.

6. Carpeted floor is best or thick rubber flooring.

7. Disinfect the bench regularly.

8. Wear warm, loose fitting clothing to keep the muscles warm.

9. Always warm up.

Basic Strength Training

What kind of exercises are best for football? The four basic principles for choosing what types of exercises are best for football are:

1. Feet on the ground

2. Multiple joint actions

3. Free weights

4. Train explosively

Feet on the ground. Since you want the weight lifting to transfer into speed and explosiveness on the football field, you want to choose exercises that have your feet on the ground. Force applied to the ground will transfer directly to speed and to stability (it will be hard to move you or tackle you).

Multiple joint actions. Choose exercises that employ multiple joints. This will make the workouts more effective overall and will provide more strengthening of your joints which will help you avoid injuries.

Free weights. Lifting free weights instead of using single joint action machines will cause multiple stabilizer muscles to come into play and be strengthened. It will also help you become more explosive.

Train explosively. If you explode on each repetition you will be increasing your fast twitch muscle fibers as opposed to your slow twitch muscle fibers. Fast twitch muscles fibers can produce four times the force as slow twitch.

Basic Youth Program

1. Hurdle warm-up

2. Snatch squat

3. Clean dead lift

4. Rack clean (move to hang clean when ready, requires a freely rotating barbell)

5. Squat (good substitute is lunges)

6. Bench press (alternate with inclined bench press)

The following are optional

7. Shoulder raises

a. Standing side

b. Standing forward

c. Bent over side

8. Triceps kickback

9. Bicep Curl

Conditioning drills

1. Box drill

2. Quick feet (4 square)

3. 360 degrees

Advanced Youth Program

1. Hurdle warm-up

2. Snatch squat

3. Clean dead lift

4. Rack clean (move to hang clean when ready, requires a freely rotating barbell)

5. Standing shoulder press

6. Power press

7. Back extension

8. Jammer rotation (requires special machine, can substitute with trunk twist)

9. Crunch

10. Squat (good substitute is lunges)

11. Bench press (alternate with inclined bench press)

12. Jammer Press (requires special machine, can substitute with push-ups with resistance)

13. Lat pull down

14. Neck machine (can substitute with isometric neck exercises)

Conditioning drills

1. Warm-ups

a. High knees

b. Heel ups

c. Carioca

2. Speed drills

a. Form starts

b. Harness drills

i. Straight

ii. Shuffle

iii. Back peddle

3. Agility

a. Ladder drill

b. Pro agility

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