Why You Should Train Like A College Football Player

Tune into a college football game on any given Saturday in the fall, and you will see some of the most highly conditioned athletes in the world. Football players come in a lot of shapes and sizes, but they are all in top physical condition and possess a high level of physical fitness. The question is how do college football players reach that peak level of physical conditioning?

A majority of football players have a large amount of lean body mass and a low percentage of body fat. Being lean and trim is certainly a desirable trait for almost every athlete and non-athlete.

So, how do football players attain such impressive physiques? The same training used to help them perform at a high level on the football field lends itself directly to a biological response in our bodies that promotes a low body fat percentage and builds muscle mass. Football players train with short bursts of intense exercise followed by a rest period almost 5 times as long as the work. Your body’s response to that type of work-to-rest ratio results in an increase in lean muscle mass, a decrease in body fat, a lower heart rate, and increased cardiovascular health. Those are results that we are all looking for whether we are athletes or not.

Here is a rundown of five basic moves that when coupled with that 5 to 1 work-to-rest ratio will make you feel like you are ready to suit up on Saturdays and dominate the gridiron in no time.

Power Clean 

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The power clean is the quintessential power developing exercise for a football player. It trains all the basic movers of your body. Power cleans also build explosion and athleticism. In addition to those benefits, power cleans boosts your heart rate and metabolism helping you burn calories and most importantly fat. Use a barbell with moderate weight. With the power clean being such a technical lift, it is important to watch this video for proper form.

View Weider Barbell Set


Plate Push

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The effort and intensity of a drive block by a college offensive linemen is trained with exercises such as a plate push. The plate push is a great exercise to boost your heart rate and intensity level in your workout. Simply take an Olympic plate or bumper plate (bumper plates work best) and set it on the floor in an open area where you have at least 10 yards to work with. Put yourself in the bear crawl position on all fours behind the plate. Put your hands behind the plate and push it across the floor as you bear crawl. Be sure to stay low and drive your knees to create power. Push the plate across the floor without stopping for 10 yards. If you are struggling with friction on the floor or are on a surface that you do not want to scratch or mark up, you can use a towel underneath the plate to reduce the friction. Check out this video with further instruction from Coach Shreck of www.varietytrainer.com

View Weight Plates


106’s (Wind Sprints)

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Playing football requires quick bursts of 100% effort for about 6-10 seconds followed by 30-35 seconds of recovery time. Wind sprints effectively train football players for their sport, but they also are great to help you burn fat because the benefits of the high intensity exercise keep the heart elevated and metabolism boosted during the rest period. This type of exercise is proven to be as effective as any cardio routine to burn fat and calories. First, you should find an open area with 60 yards of running room. Mark off 53 yards (the width of a football field) with cones (or your hat or water bottle.) One “106” is sprinting 53 yards and back to your starting position as quickly as possible. The pace should intense somewhere around 80-90% of full speed.


Bear Crawls

bear crawl bear crawl

This is an exercise that all of us did at one point in grade school. Bear crawls are a great whole body exercise and really focus on developing our motor control. Typically, a bear crawl may be used by a college football coach as an intense conditioner or even a disciplinary measure. You can use this as part of your workout to ramp up the intensity level. Here is another YouTube video to show you the proper way to complete the exercise.


Push Press

push press

Our final movement trains the upper body with a little help from the your posterior chain. A push press is simply an overhead press with a barbell aided by a ¼ to ½ squat jump. You will start with the bar resting on your upper chest with your hands shoulder width apart. You will then drop into a ¼ to ½ squat then press the bar into an overhead position while fully extending your whole body (like you are jumping.) Arms, legs, and hips should be fully extended in the movement. College strength coaches love this movement with football players because it builds upper and lower body power in a functional position with their athletes. Here is a push press workout YouTube video with a visual demonstration.

View Weider Barbell Set


The Train Like a College Football Player Workout

*Please consult a physician before starting any workout program

*Be sure to warm-up properly with 5-10 minutes of light jogging with some dynamic stretching.

Weightroom Complex (complete this 3 cycles): Rest 1-2 minutes after each movement.

  1. Power Cleans- 10 repetitions at 65% of your maximum or just what you know you can do 10 times!
  2. Push Press- 10 repetitions at 65% of your maximum or at a weight you know you can do.
  3. Plate Push- Push a 25 lb., 35 lb., or 45 lb. plate 10 yards. Take a break. Then push that plate 10 more yards.

As you get stronger, you can decrease the repetitions and increase the intensity (weight) to continually progress.

 On the Field Work: Rest 1-2 minutes after each repetition

  1. 106’s- 4 repetitions at 80-90%. As you get in better shape, run one more every workout.
  2. Bear Crawl- Start by bear crawling as far as you can without stopping, then rest and bear crawl back to your starting position. Each workout try to push yourself a little further.

Best of luck with this workout. You’ll be running like you are covering kick-offs on Saturdays in no time!