Extreme Football Conditioning For Lineman by Steve Morris

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Extreme Football Conditioning for Linemen

1. Prowler Drives

Prowler drives are a lineman’s best friend. These aren’t long, slow pushes. These are fast, intense, short bursts of 5–10 yards. Set up the Prowler, get your hips low, and try to get as close as possible to the actual blocking/driving position that you’d have on the field. Now explode forward for 5–10 yards. Ideally, this should be performed with a partner so that you can both simply trade off pushes. But if you’re flying solo, rest about 10– 20 seconds between pushes and go for 8–12 drives.

The weight should be medium to heavy. Think of the heaviest guy you’ll face and add a few pounds on him. This will probably range from 250–400 lbs. Just don’t get caught up in trying to push 600 lbs and move like a pig in slop.

2. Multiple hill sprints

There’s nothing fancy here. Just line up at the bottom of a hill and sprint. Hill sprints are great because they’re hard, safe because you can never reach full speed or over stride, and easy on the joints, which is especially important for the big men

Trudging up a hill will work the lungs and the legs, so it’s definitely a “best bang for your buck” kind of exercise. The hill doesn’t have to be crazy high. We aren’t climbing a mountain in Siberia a la Stallone in Rocky IV. We want a nice, steady incline so that it makes the sprints much harder and easier on your knees and ankles. In addition, you don’t need to spend all day sprinting. A little hill sprinting goes a long way.

Start with five and work your way up to 10–12, depending on the amount of incline and the length of the hill. These are also great for dropping excess body fat, so go find a hill if you’ve got some fat to lose. It’s much more dignified than seeing your big butt plodding around a Zumba class.

3. Metabolic conditioning

Metabolic conditioning is a fancy way of saying “position specific sprinting.” It was popularized by the University of Nebraska back when anything that came out of Nebraska was gospel. It’s actually a highly effective and fun way to condition, and it sure beats just running sprints to run them.

The easiest way to envision this is to picture how a wide receiver would do it. He’d line up for 10 sprints (one set). Each sprint is actually a pass route. If possible, he’d have someone throw him the football at the end of each route to not only condition but also build football skill. He’d do one set, rest 90 seconds, and then come back for 3–4 more sets.

But linemen don’t catch passes. Linemen do, however, have very specific foot work patterns, steps, angles, and skills that they can build while still conditioning. We’ll use an offensive lineman in our example, but this is easily adaptable to D-linemen as well.

Set 1

  • Base step right and sprint 5 yards
  • Angle step right and sprint 10 yards
  • Pull left and sprint 30 yards (a deep pull as you would on a sweep)
  • Reach left and sprint 15 yards
  • Pull right and sprint 5 yards (trap step)
  • Pass slide right and sprint 20 yards
  • Base left and sprint 7 yards
  • Reach right and sprint 10 yards
  • Pass slide left and sprint 5 yards
  • Pull right and sprint 30 yards (deep pull)

Sprint, walk back, and sprint again. Pay attention to your steps. Stay low and drive forward. This is a great way to kill two boring but necessary processes (conditioning and skill building) in a fun way. If you want, have someone throw you the ball after each sprint just for the hell of it. You never know when they’re going to put in tackle eligible, so be prepared.

A defensive lineman would take his steps but change the runs to include the angle to the quarterback, shuffles/slides, slide sprints, and even a spin move if he wanted to get fancy. Start with three sets and work up to five. Rest about 90 seconds between sets and simply walk back between sprints and start again.

4. Sled and carry medley

This is a favorite of our linemen. Something about it just screams toughness. It isn’t like anything required of you on the football field. It’s a much longer feat of conditioning, but it builds mental toughness. And if you aren’t mentally tough on the line, you’ll get killed.

You need a sled or a Prowler and something to carry—farmers’ walk bars, sandbags, or heavy dumbbells. Using the Prowler is a bit easier. Set a heavy sandbag or set of farmers’ bars about 25 yards from you. Now drive the Prowler hard and fast to the line, pick up the farmers’ bars or sandbags and carry it back to the original line. This is basic and it’s old school, but it works. It’s as much a mental toughening exercise as it is a physical one. Linemen need to develop an attitude that is part sociopath and part cage fighter. If you have linemen who aren’t willing to get physical and essentially fight for three hours, you have linemen who will get killed.

If you use a sled, it’s easiest to use a long strap with a handle (Spud towel strap or a triceps rope works best) and either do a back pedal pull or a forward, 45-degree angle pull. This makes the dismount easier than using a harness. Four to five medleys are plenty. You can go for more as the season draws closer.

When to condition

This seems to be the big question—where and when does conditioning fit into your football strength program? If you do it on your off days and really go crazy, you’ll be sore and tired for your weight training sessions. Some have opted for one total conditioning day, usually on a Saturday. This can work well, depending on the rest of your training week.

The best option is often to simply add one conditioning drill to the end of your weight training session. This works well deep in the off-season when you simply want to remain in shape but not go all out on the conditioning. Doing this allows you to remain fairly close to game shape all year long but doesn’t interfere with your strength gains. It’s fast and efficient. Adding some Prowler drives to the end of your lower body day doesn’t take much effort or time and allows you to use your off days to focus on recovery (sleep, nutrition, stretching, and foam rolling).


Submitted by DMorgan on Sat, 05/29/2010 - 8:29pm.

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