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Exercise Like a Football Player with These Key Moves

Exercise Like a Football Player with These Key Moves

man playing football

Whether you’re a die-hard football fan or you’re just watching the Super Bowl for the #ads, the halftime show (J.Lo and Shakira are enough to make us do anything), and/or the snacks, there are few households in America that aren’t going to be streaming the annual sporting event—or at least some portion of it—this weekend. 

And while you might be thinking about the best dips to go with your Super Bowl spread, we’ve got something even better to serve up in honor of the big Sunday: a workout inspired by football players themselves. 

Here, we chat with Joey Foley, the co-founder of Punch Pedal House and an ex-Division-1 football and track athlete at the University of Pittsburgh, as he guides us through a few key moves that anybody can take from the football players’ training manual. 

What does training look like for a football player?

For the most part, Foley says that training in football—as in any sport—is broken down into different sections from season to season. In football, it typically comes down to pre-season training (May–August), the actual season (September–around January), and off-season (February–May). 

“During the season, you are trying to maintain and stay healthy,” says Foley. “You take less risk on strength with max outs. You are working on speed, footwork, agility, and just staying healthy. You are focusing on maintenance and slow growth. Off-season, you’re pushing yourself in areas that build a stronger foundation for your body since you have more rest or active rest. It’s less specialty work and more foundational. For example, you want more power off the line. You will focus on powerlifting and plyometrics for better quickness with power. During pre-season you’re working in some of the worst conditions, in high heat while partaking in two-a-days, three-a-days, and sometimes even four-a-days.”

How to exercise like a football pro

Now, while the average guy or gal isn’t exactly going to train to this degree of intensity on a regular basis, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few pages out of football players’ books that anyone can implement. Here are a few of the key training moves that Foley recommends anyone get into their routine. 

Box-and-hurdle workouts 

Good for: Agility and power

Foley says: “Hurdle drills improve quickness and your body’s ability to perform cutting movements, which is important in football. It also improves coordination. The box improves explosive power in your hips and legs—which [for a football player] is especially essential when creating separation from opponents on the field.”

We say: There are few things that can condition your legs quick as well as a box jumps. As you work to propel yourself up, you end up having to work almost every muscle in your legs. Plus, in addition to boosting your power, this move is a great way to reduce the likelihood of injuries by helping strengthen joints and reactive ability. 

Ladders with sprints

Good for: Footwork

Foley says: “These will all help with your footwork, which in football is especially important for linemen, specialists, and quarterbacks. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but balance and movement create space and make it easier to get to the best position properly.”

We say: Even if you’re not a quarterback, getting some ladder sprints into your regimen is a great way to boost your muscle endurance as well as your overall stamina, which could have major payoffs in your fitness all around. 

Endurance intervals

Good for: Endurance and speed

Foley says: “Running on a track is essential for the endurance of the game, but also being able to not just last but move well when you need to burst out. Football plays last 5-15 seconds, so the intervals are essential in training your body to stop and go for all four quarters. Sprinting the curves and jogging the straightaways around a track for mile repetitions is important for specialty players like backs and receivers.”

We say: Running is always a go-to when it comes to boosting your cardio, and adding some interval training to the mix let’s you take advantage of some HIIT-like benefits on the track. 


Good for: Strength

Foley says: “Find a weight program that will allow you to use power movements, like bench press, squat, lunges, etc. Football is a physical sport everywhere. You get hit, and you hit people on both sides of the ball. What you should notice about football players is they come in all shapes and sizes. However, power strength movements will help all positions on the field.”

We say: A little extra strength training never hurts.  

Stretching and flexibility

Good for: Injury prevention

Foley says: “Before and after a workout, you should be stretching and foam rolling. I wish I knew this when I was growing up and training; my body would have lasted longer. I cannot express this enough that your body’s flexibility is essential for recovery and performance.”

We say: A great workout is all well and good, but without the proper warmup or post-exercise recovery, you not only reduce the potential payoff of your tough workout, but you run the risk of injury too. 

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