It’s that time of year again to prepare yourself for eye black, cleats, and Al Michaels’ hair. Depending on your level of fandom, you can look forward to jammed stadium parking lots or wide open freeway lanes on Sunday afternoons.
While lifting a chip from the bowl and into your mouth might be the extent of your workouts during epic pigskin watching sessions, we’re here to help you gather fitness inspiration from your favorite grid-iron players and apply it to your own workouts.
Sports are generally a blend of conditioning, balance, mental acuity and perseverance, but football requires these characteristics in spades. Below are five exercises that should get your competitive juices flowing and give you that much more respect for the professionals.
For a wide receiver or a running back, sprints are paramount to success – after all, running 100 yards at top speed is no mean feat. You need to be able to push off immediately and accelerate quickly if you want to outrun your defenders.
Tip for you: In the middle of a jog, try to sprint periodically for 30 seconds or so – it’ll build your muscles, improve your heart rate and give you more stamina.
2. Weight lifting
Passing and kicking are essential skills on a football team. Strengthening arms and legs through regular lifting gives players those few extra yards that can make all the difference.
Tip for you: Every week, try to build your capacity by adding a few pounds to your weightlifting load. But remember to listen to your body – if you feel a strain, don’t push it. Also, use a spotting partner when you’re on the bench.
Like basketball, football depends on height as well as distance. The ability to jump up and snag the pass (or deflect it) is key when the game’s on the line. Just imagine how many legendary endzone plays would have failed to materialize if the player’s reach happened to be just short of the ball instead…
Tip for you: Try sets of 5 burpees to build up those calf muscles – explode off the ground!
4. Resistance training
Football is a war of attrition. Take a few steps forward, take a few steps back… all yardage is intensely contested. The offensive and defensive lines spend entire games literally pushing each other. Victory in this tug o’war is determined in large part by who is stronger.
Tip for you: Bungees are a great counterweight – but if you are lacking equipment, try push-ups or wall-sits.
It’s everyone’s job to protect the pigskin. Consequently, tuck and carry is key. This requires rock-hard abs and vice-grip arms.
Tip for you: While crunching, isolate your abdominal muscles and don’t allow yourself to gather momentum from rocking. Yes, it’s more difficult, but it’s also more effective.
Impress your friends with these 5 random football facts:
- The first organized game on record was played in 1869 when Princeton took on Rutgers.
- The first reported “pro” player was named William Heffelfinger. He was paid $500 to play a single game in 1892.
- The Chicago Bears were once named the Chicago Staleys.
- Wilson Sporting Goods, one of our Amer Sports sister brands, has been making the official NFL football since 1941.
- According to Random Facts, “The huddle was invented by Paul Hubbard. A legally deaf quarterback from Gallaudet University, he ‘huddled’ other players together so he could hear them better and to protect them from the other teams’ prying eyes.”
Find more fun trivia at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Elvert Barnes.