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Football Conditioning The Importance of Strengthening the Lower Body


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If you think of all the things a football player does on a football field; running the ball, blocking, receiving, passing, tackling, hitting and kicking, the greatest and most significant component is the use of the lower body. Increasing strength in the legs and hips can turn a 10 yard gain into 25 yards, turn a good hit into a devastating hit, or turn a 15 yard reception into a 50 yard gain! Therefore, to become great, all football players must strengthen there lower body to enhance their ability to be a game changer.

The following information contains descriptions of the lifts you will be directed to do in your workouts. They will provide details on the technique how to execute each lift. It is imperative that you focus more on the technique of each lift, rather than increasing the weight. Remember, you will get stronger quicker if you do all lifts in good technique, rather than trying to lift too much with a lack of technique.

KEY REMINDER - ALWAYS HAVE A WORKOUT PARTNER TO SPOT YOU! (This will help prevent injuries, and help you focus on technique. )

Back Squat (With a Bar)

  • With a free weight rack, place and set the bar on the rack at approximately chest height.
  • When you have the necessary weight on the bar, stand underneath the bar, grip/place your hands in the same position you use when you bench press. Finally securely fit the bar right where your neck turns into your shoulders.
  • Lift the bar off the rack and take a tiny step away from the rack.
  • Place your feet shoulder width apart and slightly point your toes outward.
  • Slowly sit down as if into an imaginary chair.
  • Keep your eyes looking directly ahead, with your back straight and your knees pointed outward.
  • Go down until your hips are slightly below the level of your knees. (You are now in the bottom of your lift).
  • Finally, push off the bottom of your feet and stand up! Do not look down! Keep you back straight and do not lean forward!

Lunges (With a Bar or Dumbbells)

  • Set, grip, and place the bar on your shoulders the same manners as you would for a back squat.
  • Step back a good 2 -3 steps away from the rack.
  • With both feet shoulder width apart, step with your right foot forward in a good stride, not to short or long. You should step at least 4 lengths of the length of your right foot.
  • With your legs in a split, drop and barely touch your left knee on the ground. (Careful, if it touches too hard you will generate tendonitis in your knee cap!)
  • Push up off the ground using your right leg. Focus using the hips.
  • Step back with both feet shoulder width apart.
  • That completes 1 repetition for the right leg. You will do repetitions on both the right and left legs.

Split Squats

  • Set, grip, and place the bar on your shoulders the same manners as you would for a back squat.
  • Step back at least 2 steps away from the squat rack.
  • Spread your legs apart till your legs are twice the width of you shoulders. Not quite the splits but close.
  • Gradually bend your right knee and lean right until your hips are the same level as your right knee.
  • Push off your right foot and return to your split stance. Be sure to not lean forward. Keep your back straight and look straight ahead.
  • Switch and do the left leg. Once you do both legs you have completed 1 repetition.
  • You will fill a burn in your butt and groin when you perform this drill correctly.

Jump Squats

  • You do not need any weights to perform this exercise.
  • Pick an area that gives you're a good 10 -12 feet of space in all directions.
  • Begin in an athletic stance with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Jump in the air as high as you can and do a scissor kick with your right leg forward.
  • Land in a lunge position, and slightly touch your left knee on the ground. Quickly jump as high in the air out of the lunge position, and then scissor kick your left leg forward.
  • Land in a lunge again, and repeat. Jump out with each leg forward is 1 repetition. You should spend less than a second between the jump, landing, and jump.
  • This drill will greatly enhance your quick twitch muscles and your ability to squat heavier weight.

Medicine Ball Throw (Safe substitute for Power Cleans)

  • Use a 8-12 pound medicine ball.
  • Highly recommended to use a field or park for this exercise. Do not use the gym.
  • You will throw the medicine ball over your head, therefore start facing in the opposite direction you want to throw.
  • Grasp the ball with both your hands and hold it on the ground. Bend your knees, keep your back plat and look straight ahead. Get in a good athletic squat position.
  • In one fluid motion, lift, jump and throw the ball as far as you can over your head, behind you. You will greatly strengthen and enhance your explosion power when performing this exercise.
  • DO NOT THROW IT STRAIGHT INTOTHE AIR! You will injure yourself.

Step Ups/One Legged Squats

  • Set, grip and place the bar on your shoulders the same manners as you would for a back squat.
  • Set a bench or box in front of the squat rack. The box needs to be sturdy enough to set on with both feet and high enough to where your knee is as high as your hip when you place your right foot on top.
  • With the weight on your back, place your right foot on top of the box/bench, now step up on it. Focus on using only your right leg to lift your body.
  • Once you step up onto the box/bench, lift your opposite knee as high as your can in a fairly quick motion. Don't do it too fast or you may lose your balance, fall and hurt yourself. Do it under control.
  • Step back down with your left leg. Place both feet back on the ground and then repeat the steps until you have done the necessary repetitions with your right leg. Switch to your left leg and complete the set.

Hamstring Curls

  • Find a hamstring curl machine.
  • Lay down on your stomach.
  • Lift the weight until the bar touches your butt.
  • SLOWLY let the weight down until your legs are straight. Take at least 3 whole seconds to let the weight down.
  • The slower your let the weight down the stronger you will get, GUARANTEED!

Straight Leg Dead Lift

  • With a bar in your hands and holding it at waist height, step on top of a box.
  • While keeping your legs completely straight, bend at your waist, and lower the bar till the bar touches the top of your ankles or shoes. Let the bar pull you down.
  • Slowly stand straight up again. That is 1 repetition.
  • Keep your back straight, arms straightened, and looking straight ahead.
  • You will feel a stretch and burn in your hamstrings when performing this exercise.

Good Mornings

  • Place and grip a bar across your back like you were to do a back squat or lunge.
  • While keeping your legs straight, bend forward and bow as if you were to greet somebody from Japan. Bow until your hamstrings hurt.
  • Stand straight up again. That is 1 repetition.
  • Keep your eyes looking straight ahead, back flat, and legs straight.
  • You will feel a stretch and burn in your hamstrings when performing this exercise.

Casey Poppinga is a former NFL player that writes for a football training site called


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