Football Workouts without Weights
You don’t have to have access to a gym or sets of dumbbells to get an effective workout. In fact, most of the workout drills run at the NFL Scouting Combine don’t involve any weights at all.
Below are some helpful callisthenic and cardio moves to incorporate into a weights-free workout. In combination, these exercises target all of the key muscle groups that football players need for maximum power and speed.
Squats are an excellent way to build lower body power. The work in your quadriceps and glutes will allow you to power through sprints and blocks more efficiently and effectively.
When performing squats, you have to keep your back straight. This means you can’t look down at your feet. Look straight ahead. A straight back during a squat is held with your core muscles, so you get two targeted muscle groups in one exercise.
You can mix these squats together instead of doing each in sets of 12 to 15 reps in 3 sets. If you use all of them, be sure to get at least 10 squats of each variant.
Standing with your feet wider than your shoulder width, keep your arms dangling straight down in front of your body. Begin lowering into the squat, making sure to keep your knees above your toes. To avoid your knees popping forward, you’ll have to keep your hips back. Squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground, touching the floor with your fingertips and then slowly rise back up.
For a plyometric version of the Frog Squat that requires more power from your lower body, you can explode out of the squat and straighten your body with your arms high above your head. When you land, keep soft knees and immediately lower back into the squat with your fingers touching the floor in front of you.
This squat is unique because it works the calves and upper back. Clasp your hands behind your head and keep your feet shoulder width or more apart. Raise yourself onto your toes, keeping your heels off the floor through the entire squat. Lower into the squat as normal, stopping when your thighs are parallel to the floor and keeping your knees behind your toes. Rise up to a standing position each time while staying on your toes.
You’ll find you have to perform this squat very slowly in order to keep your balance. You can rise up more quickly, but make sure to not return your heels to the floor until the set is done. This gives your whole leg a great workout.
Single Leg Squats
A one-legged squat is a lot easier said than done. When it’s perfected, one leg is straight out in front while the other leg squats down as far as possible. This squat goes far past the “thigh parallel to the ground” that most squatters are familiar with. This makes rising back up much more difficult. Single leg squats take a lot of patience and practice, but when you can do one with proper form, you’ll be getting the best work out a squat can give.
Because this squat has to be learned in smaller stages, we recommend T-Nation’s in-depth, step-by-step program to achieve a one leg squat. Although T-Nation recommends starting with small dumbbells, this is certainly an exercise that can be learned and performed without weights. However you choose to work on it, the single leg squat will help with strength and, more importantly, balance that comes from the core.
Skater squats are an easier form of the single leg squat. The main differences are that the free leg is held in back instead of straight out in front and that, like a traditional squat, you lower yourself only until your thigh is parallel to the ground.
Start by having your left knee rest on a surface behind you that’s about 6 inches off the ground. Hold your arms straight out in front of you and lower until your front knee is at a right angle, then slowly rise back up. Keep the weight on your front leg on the heel to avoid knee strain. When your legs are strong enough, you should be able to perform the squat without your back leg resting on an object.
This squat is especially good for targeting asymmetrical strength. If you know that taking off on your left foot is less powerful than your right, make sure to get the left leg up to speed. This will help with agility.
Split Squat Jumps
The split squat (or lunge) jump helps with explosive power. Claps your hands behind your head and step one foot forward. Lower into a squat until your leading thigh is parallel to the ground. Your back shin will also be parallel (or at least very close to parallel) to the ground. Explode off the ground pushing through the balls of your feet to jump as high as you can. While in midair, switch the legs to land in the split squat position again with the opposite foot in lead. Each switch is one rep.
Push-ups work the triceps, pectorals, anterior deltoids and abs for a good upper body and core workout. Believe it or not, a properly formed push-up is actually a better chest workout than an arm workout. If you’re feeling it all in the upper arm, try spacing your hands out father from your shoulders to engage your chest muscles.
Try to use several sets of different push-ups to get a more thorough workout, since each targets a slightly different area. To start, aim for 8 to 12 reps in sets of 3.
A diamond push-up will increase the difficulty of a standard push-up while adding extra work on the shoulders and triceps.
Start to form this push-up while resting on your knees to make sure you get the proper form. Form a diamond with your hands by touching the tops of your index fingers and the sides of your thumbs. Make sure your elbows and wrists line up underneath your chest. With your fingertips facing forward, rise off of your knees to ready the starting position. To perform a push-up, bend at the elbows until your chest touches the top of your hands.
It is important to keep a perfectly straight back without your hips sagging down. If you’re unable to do this, work on some other push-up forms until you have the muscle strength or perform the push-up while still on your knees.
The Hindu push-up gets its name from a training regimen used by wrestlers in India, Iran, Turkey, China and Japan. This push-up is a full-body workout that targets the chest, abs, arms, back, legs, and hips. The Hindu push-up requires smooth, fluid motion, so try not to block off the stages with pauses.
To perform a Hindu push-up, start in a standard push-up position. Spread your feet apart to be wider than your shoulders and keep your hands at shoulder width. Raise your rear end into the air to form a downward ‘V’ shape. This is the starting position to which you will return to end each rep.
Start lowering your body by pointing your elbows out to the side while lowering your rear end into a standard push-up position. Pass through this position by pushing up on your shoulders while continuing to lower your lower body to the floor. This should shift the weight from being even in front and back to being mostly on your shoulders and arms. When you’ve straightened your arms to raise your chest and shoulders as high as you can, use your glutes and abdominals to raise your rear end to return to the starting position. With practice, this motion should be completely fluid, as in this video.
Mountain climbers target the abs and use a locked, straight arm, so they’re not conventionally thought to be push-ups. However, since they can be done in between conventional and other varieties of push-ups, they’re often listed as an additional variant.
Start with your hands flat on the floor in a standard push-up position but with your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Place your left foot underneath your chest. With your abs contracted, jump up high enough to switch the legs. Both feet should leave the floor at the same time so that your left foot can drive back while your right foot drives forward. Each switch is one rep.
A plyometric push-up is very close to a standard push-up. The main difference is the return to the starting position. After you lower to the ground, use an explosive push that drives from the heel of your palm to bring your upper body and hands off the floor. Avoid landing with locked elbows, which could cause injury or unnecessary stress on your elbows. Instead, aim to land with soft elbows that immediately bend back into another push-up. If you get enough air time, you can clap your hands in between, but this isn’t necessary for anything other than show.
Dips are a surprisingly tough way to work the chest, shoulders, triceps, and back muscles. In general, a dip is harder than a push-up. With a push-up, much of your weight is supported and stabilized by your feet being planted on the ground. With dip bars, your entire body mass becomes a weight.
Use a chair, bench or other object of similar height to perform dips at a beginner’s level.
Facing away from the chair, place your hands on the edge of the seat with your fingers facing forward. Keep your feet close enough to the chair that your knees are bent at about a 90 degree angle. Make sure that your knees are not forward past your toes. Then slowly lower yourself into the dip until your elbows are at a right angle. After 6-8 reps, you can try sticking your feet farther away from the chair until your legs are straight and only your heels are on the ground. This will set you up for a bench dip.
A bench dip uses two objects to provide a greater range of motion and more extensive workout in the hamstrings, core, triceps and back.
Find another object that is shorter than the chair or bench used for your hands. With your hands in the same position as a chair dip, use the shorter object for your heels. Lower your body into the dip until your chest feels the stretch or until your rear end touches the floor. Raise your body until your arms are straight to complete a rep. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps.
Raise the foot height until it is even with or higher than the hand height for an extra challenge. The higher your feet, the more weight your arms are supporting.
If you have access to a dip bar, aim to gain the strength to use it after mastering the chair and bench dips. A dip on a pair of bars will make your muscles work the hardest because your entire weight will be supported by your arms, specifically your triceps.
Cardio & Burpees
This final exercise will work your full body with a cardio routine. Run at a moderate speed for 100 to 300 meters, then stop and perform 5 burpees. Repeat this pattern 20 times to get 100 burpees. Keep practicing this routine two times per week until you can reach 50 burpees at a time.
A burpee, in this case, starts from a standing position. Squat down and place your hands on the ground in front of you. Jump your feet back to a pushup position, then jump them back in toward your chest. Return to the squat position. Driving through your feet, leap into the air as high as possible with your arms straight over your head.
For an extra challenge, throw in an actual push-up (or a push-up variant) before jumping your feet back to your chest.
Between the burpees and the running, you’ll have a full body workout.
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