Football requires excellent aerobic fitness to provide endurance for sustained effort, strength to hold position over the ball and to kick powerfully, and speed and agility for general play. Weight training can help you develop strength, speed and agility. You will need to do aerobic and high-intensity anaerobic training as part of an integrated training program.
Aerobic fitness means you can run at a moderate pace for a substantial time without getting too tired. Anaerobic fitness means you can keep going longer at high intensities before your legs and body slow down. Both are important in football, especially if you are likely to play the whole or most of the game. When you optimize all these elements -- running fitness, strength and power, and speed and agility -- you can claim to be at peak fitness.
A year-round football weight training program could look like the program I’ve outlined below.
- Players are preparing for the season and starting to build up after the off-season.
- Emphasis is on building aerobic fitness and basic functional strength.
- Players are working up to the start of the season, and pre-season trials are imminent.
- Emphasis is on building anaerobic fitness and maximum strength and power.
- Competition is underway and players are expected to be fully functional for competition.
- Maintenance of speed, aerobic and anaerobic fitness, and strength and power is emphasized.
- You won the title, or you hopefully came close; it's time to relax for a while but you need to keep active.
- Emphasis is on rest and recovery with maintenance of light activity -- cross training, light gym work –- and go easy on the drinking and eating because you don’t want to have to lose too much weight in the next pre-season workup. Several weeks' break from serious fitness and strength training is helpful.
- As pre-season approaches, more regular work can resume with an emphasis on building aerobic fitness and strength once again for the pre-season training.
Consider the program presented here to be an all-round program, best suited to beginners or casual weight trainers without a history of weight training for football. The best programs are always specific to an individual's current fitness, role in the team, access to resources, and -- no less important -- the team coaches' essential philosophy. You will be best served by using the following program in conjunction with a trainer or coach.
If you're new to weight training, brush up on principles and practices with these beginner resources.
Always warm up and cool down before and after a training session. A medical clearance for exercise is always a good idea at the start of the season if you have not had one previously.
For the following exercises, do three sets of 6-12 repetitions. Brush up on sets and repetitions if you need to. Use heavier weights with fewer sets.
- Barbell back squat
- Dumbbell incline bench press
- Romanian deadlift
- Cable lat pulldown to front with wide grip
- Pull ups - 3x6 repetitions - adjust to suit ability, weighted if necessary
- Barbell or dumbbell hang clean
- Barbell or dumbbell push press
- Incline machine rows
- Hanging leg raise (Captain's Chair)
Points to Note
- Adjust the weight selected so that the final few repetitions are taxing but not so difficult that you completely fail.
- Get sufficient rest between sets -- 30 seconds to two minutes depending on how heavy you lift. Take more rest for heavier sets and fewer reps.
- Take at least two days off between weight training sessions to recover. Don't weight train immediately before a field training session or game.
- Your muscles may be sore after some sessions. Muscle soreness, or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), is normal; joint pain is not. Back off and perhaps get medical advice when you feel any joint pain or discomfort, or lingering muscle or connective tissue pain.