As an older brother of two football players who has spent the past few summers working out with them and one of their coaches as well as an associate of a trainer of top high school football players in Michigan, I am here to give you tips on what you should be doing with your downtime in the summer to get ready for the fall football season.
The off-season is a time of relaxation for most students, but unfortunately for you as a football player, it is your time to put in extra work to get ahead of the curve and get yourself ready physically for the upcoming season.
Although two-a-day practices leading up to the season will get you in solid cardiovascular shape assuming your coach does them right, it’s not going to be enough in most cases to get your prepared for a long football season.
All player should spend their summer time both running and in the gym lifting heavy weights, but how much you do of each depends on what style of player you are, what position you play, and what you need to improve on the most.
First of all, I will be talking about lifting weights in the off-season. The key thing for any football player is to focus on the legs, mainly strengthening them through compound exercises such as squats and deadlifts. You should devote two days of working out your legs in the off-season, spacing the lifting sessions out by at least 48-72 hours each time.
The squat and deadlift should be the two core exercises because they work the most muscles and allow you to add the most weight in the quickest amount of time. Do varying amounts of set and reps to constantly push your body in different ways. While these exercises are tough, you also need to do different secondary leg exercises to supplement them.
Good examples are lunges, where you hold a weight at each side and take long steps before returning to your upright position, and hamstring curls, which are good for preventing injury to an area that is very vulernable to them.
As for the upper body, the bench press is always a key exercises, but don’t forget to work out the back and triceps as well. Good back exercises are pull-ups and bent-over rows, while dips and skullcrushers; where you hold a bar over your head laying down and bring it up in a slight arc over your head, are good for your triceps.
To make the most of every workout in the off-season, you will want to eat an absolute ton of food and utilize protein shakes to give your body the nutrition it needs to grow in a short amount of time.
On days you lift, you will want to eat a massive surplus of calories. To keep the fat off, avoid greasy foods like pizza and burgers, but if that’s all you have to eat, don’t hesitate to eat a lot because you can always burn the fat off later.
You want to consume a ton of carbs and get at least 1-1 1/2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Most, if not all of your carbs, should be from whole grain or wheat bread of oatmeal, because these are broken down more slowly into your system and give you lasting energy and fuel to build muscle.
Good sources of protein include meat, milk and other dairy products, and peanut butter or nuts. A couple of large peanut butter sandwiches always works well in a pinch to add calories and protein.
As for the protein powder, this is an extremely important product to have for gaining weight and is necessary to drink after every workout. Never drink it with milk, even though that tastes better, because the milk will cause it to absorb slowly in your system and deprive your body of the nutrients it needs post-workout.
After lifting, take two scoops of protein powder with water to get it into your muscles as soon as possible. Also, a couple of ingredients named dextrose and maltodextrin will help you in the absorbtion of the protein. These should be mixed into your protein and you can find them at a health foods store. The candy Sweet Tarts also is made of these two ingredients so if you want a tastier option you can buy those and eat them with your shake.
You can also keep every last bit of muscle by performing some maintenence in the mornings and at night. In the morning, your body is deprived of protein and will eat muscle to get some. So as soon as you wake up, have a protein shake with water just like you would post-workout. This one can be a little smaller. To prevent this muscle-eating process overnight as well, consume dairy products just before bed. Cottage cheese is the best since it doesn’t have much sugar and has a lot of protein, but milk can also work, if you can drink it without going to bathroom all night, that is.
As for running and conditioning, this is the area you should focus most on if you plan on playing wide receiver or cornerback. Sprints and side-to-side shuttle drills on track or grass are the best ideas. Don’t run on hard surfaces if you can avoid them because they might end up hurting your feet.
You need to decide what area you need to get better on as a runner and then improve it. Are you slow side-to-side? Focus on drills that make you change directions quickly and your footwork. Running in sand barefoot also is a good idea to improve in this area.
If you get winded easily in the fourth quarter, you need to do exercises like running like distances or also what’s referred to as “strong man” or “caveman” training. The latter focuses on doing the type of things a person might do on a farm such as picking up objects like rocks and either walking long distances with them or tossing them around. You can do these in a field or your backyard if it’s big enough.
Right now is the time to do as much as you can, because you don’t want to find yourself in the middle of a grueling season out of shape, broken down, and not strong enough to handle the wars in the trenches of full-contact football.
Work hard now so you can enjoy yourself and make plays on the football field because once the season hits, it will be too late to make these kinds of improvements.