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Football Training: Is it all about the lifting?
Photo of Brian Halligan

In football, you want to be a strong, powerful player, and the best way to achieve that persona is to get in the gym and lift weights. Build your body up, take no prisoners on game day and you'll rule the field. Right?

Not so fast. Being strong and hitting the gym is a good thing, no doubt about it, but that's just a part of the equation in the game of football.

Flexibility

Do you know what is even more important than lifting weights? Flexibility! To give a hit or to take a hit, you have to be flexible enough to absorb a hit. If your body cannot absorb a hit, you are going to go down like a sack of bricks. It also won't matter how muscular you are if you get juked out by a running back or if you don't have the flexibility in your legs to ready yourself for a block while the defensive end blows by you.

There is a reason why many pro football players do yoga and ballet in the off season. If these big linemen and linebackers can contort their bodies into complex yoga positions, that gives them an advantage on the field of play. They'll be flexible enough to get into position to make the tackle or make the block.

Football Smarts

Do you know what's even more important than flexibility? Football smarts. No, I'm not talking about adding up the yards between the spaces on a field, I'm talking about where to be on the field during any given play.

There is a reason why some players are always around the ball, always can find a hole, always are in on every tackle, and are always in the right place at the right time. That's called football smarts.

Football smarts come as much from instinct as knowing where a player is going to be on any given play. Every player on the opposing team has a specific place to be on every down. By watching, understanding and learning, you can figure out these patterns and be in on the action with virtually every play. College and pro teams spend hours watching videos of the other team to pick up these patterns, which is why football smarts are so vitally important.

Lifting

Okay, do you see where lifting falls on this list? Getting in the gym is very important, but you have to do it right. Body builders, (think Arnold here), want a bulked up mass that looks impressive. They lift huge amounts of weight, in a limited amount of repetitions, to build muscle fast.

Lifting for an athlete means working out by lifting smaller amounts of weight in a lot of repetitions. Although you won't get the bulk that a body builder does, you'll get endurance because you will be working your muscles longer. And in a game situation, being able to stay out there for the long run is where you want to be.

The Ideal

Lifting, learning, and flexibility are the big keys to football readiness. You need to be the total package on every given play, or you are going to be warming the bench a lot.

So get your head in the game with football smarts, get your muscles in the game by lifting, and get your body in the game through flexibility, and the more you strive towards getting all three of these disciplines on the field, the more complete of a player you'll be in every game.

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