These workouts are only a small sampling of ways you can mix up your linemen’s conditioning program. We’ve selected the more unique variations of traditional moves, like squats and dips, that target specific muscle groups.
Exercises for Lineman
Don’t forget to work on sprints and high intensity interval training for the perfect balance of strength and cardiovascular conditioning.
This movement focuses on the lower body strength needed for a lineman’s quick bursts of power. The targeted muscles include the hip flexors, quadriceps, and glutes.
Using a barbell positioned on the shoulders, perform a squat with one foot forward and the other behind the natural hip alignment. Make a right angle by lowering the back knee as close to the ground as possible, then slowly return to the starting position. Make sure to keep the upper body straight with the shoulders back. Repeat on each side.
For an added challenge, keep a dumbbell raised in one hand. Place the back foot on a stable object about 6 inches off the ground. Continue the squats as before. Instead of increasing the weight of the dumbbell, you can raise the height of the foot in back for a more effective workout.
The target of this exercise is the hamstrings, with some additional conditioning provided for the lower back muscles, glutes and abdominals. This one uses a barbell.
With the barbell over the shoulders, bend at the hips, moving the pelvis back and keeping the back arched. Lower the torso until it is nearly parallel to the floor and slowly return to the starting position. Make sure to use the backs of the thighs and glutes to power through the return instead of relying on your back.
This exercise will use the strength gained from other training to practice fast bursts of power. It also works on hand-eye coordination.
Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a kettlebell with arms hanging downward in front of the body. Begin to squat and lower the weight between the knees. With arms still extended, explode out of the squat while lifting the kettlebell with straight arms. As the arms swing above the shoulders, let go of the weight. Quickly bend the elbows and drop back into a squat to catch it.
As one trainer notes, this one is not as easy as it sounds. “Stay focused on every part of the movement: exploding, the catch, lowering and driving up. You can’t phone this one in.”
For detailed pictures of how this move should look, check outMuscle&Fitness
Never forget the importance of a strong lower back. Without a properly conditioned back, one wrong move can leave you with a nasty injury. When a lineman is focusing on dead stop to high power movement, the back needs to be strong.
To do this exercise, use a sandbag or other heavy object. The goal here is to raise the object from the ground to a surface that’s at shoulder height. Bend at the waist, with knees slightly bent, and pull the object toward the chest. Then use the feet to begin lifting. When the object is at knee height, maintain the squat and pull the object onto the lap. From there, begin to stand and pull the object up to the chest, driving with the hips and lower back muscles. Lean back to continue raising the object to the top of the shoulders, and then unload the weight by pushing forward with the hips and shoulders onto the raised surface.
Photos of this exercise can be seen here.
Linemen also need upper body strength, especially in the triceps, to power through their pushing. There are a lot of variations on the traditional dip that can change things up and add a new level of difficulty.
Bench dips, a traditional exercise for beginners, can be used with a raised leg surface and a weight in the lap. Try to keep the legs no higher than the surface on which the hands are placed. The weight is where you’ll get incremental conditioning.
Parallel bar dips are another great way to up the game. On this one, it’s especially important to aim for perfect form for a targeted effect. Keep the elbows over the hands and tilt the upper body forward, making sure to keep the shoulders in front of the elbows. The further forward the shoulders are, the more the chest muscles are being emphasized. The straighter the torso, the more the triceps are being used. Lower the body until the elbows form a 90 degree angle, and then raise back up.
Learn some more variations of dips at the website T-Nation.
Some Other Useful Tips
Many coaches are frustrated with the reliance on old stand-by workouts that include jogging.
Sprinting and HIIT: Why You Should Avoid Jogging
While it’s less work to have the players run the field 3 times, this type of training does nothing for the linemen who need to work toward strong, rapid bursts of power. Take the time to coordinate sprint training and high intensity interval training to condition the linemen for their actual on-the-field job.
One of the easiest ways to get started is to take advantage of your local terrain. Find a hill. The conditioning will involve sprinting up and walking down multiple times. For an extra challenge, add a resistance aid, like a sandbag or weighted vest.
If you don’t have a hill nearby, consider using a well-designed sprinting conditioner that includes quick direction change and complex footwork. Each set of sprints should last about a minute, with short periods of rest (usually about 30 seconds) in between. Build up the length of the sets and the repetitions for efficient training of fast take-offs with nimble right and left movement.
You can find a sample HIIT formula here.
Take Advantage of the Off-Season
Your best bet for effective conditioning is to start early in the off-season. This allows the players time to train and recover ad infinitum without worrying about fatigue and soreness during actual play.
There are many 12-week programs out there with daily outlined workout plans. You can see an example of one using some of the techniques outlined above here.
Don’t forget to work the muscles in groups. This gives time for the muscles to repair themselves before being put under stress again. Younger players, especially, tend to forget this and may overwork themselves. Remind them that this will do more damage than good. More training does not equal better results. Smart training is the way to go.
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