4 Football Conditioning Drills That Work

4 Football Conditioning Drills That Work

Training2Courtesy of stack.com

One football tradition that will never die is good old fashioned team rivalries. But America’s favorite sport has evolved. It is a faster, more explosive game. The average play now lasts only about five seconds with an average 30-second rest between plays. Games are intense, especially against top rivals.

A good 50 years ago, it was a different story. A running back would just be responsible for running the football. He’d run for a good distance and then have a few minutes to rest. Today’s running back needs to catch the ball out of the backfield, pick up on the blitz, cut away from oncoming blocks and run for a touchdown—all in around five seconds.

Since football’s game play and game speed have evolved, so must its conditioning routines. There is no room for standard 100-yard sprints or gassers. These football conditioning drills train the cardiovascular system aerobically. Football conditioning must now be tailored toward anaerobic training. This is the only method capable of producing athletes who can keep up with the demands of the game.

Give the following conditioning drills a try. They’ll help you generate incredible results next season.

Football Conditioning Drills

Sprint Ladders

The sprint ladder encourages speed, agility, coordination, and leg muscle strength, all qualities a football player must possess, making these an excellent conditioning tool.

  • 2 x sprint 10 yards, rest 10 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 20 yards, rest 20 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 30 yards, rest 30 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 40 yards, rest 30 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 50 yards, rest 30 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 40 yards, rest 30 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 30 yards, rest 30 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 20 yards, rest 20 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 10 yards, rest 10 seconds between sprints

Sprint/Stride Intervals

Here’s where you can use 100 yards effectively. But you need to fine-tune the drill a little to make it more appropriate. Instead of all-out sprints, perform interval sets of 20-yard sprints and 20-yard strides for the full length of the field. Striders are particularly beneficial. They help you develop greater stride length. This means you’ll be able to cover more ground in less time, resulting in greater speed production.

A set would be:

  • 20-yard sprint
  • 20-yard stride
  • 20-yard sprint
  • 20-yard stride
  • 20-yard sprint

Rest 30 seconds between sets and repeat for a total of four to 10 sets. Start on the lower set range at the beginning of your pre-season training and increase volume as your conditioning progresses.

Tempo Runs

Tempo runs are another drill where you can use the full 100 yards of the football field.

  • Start at a corner of an end zone and stride for 100 yards
  • Focus on long steps, slower than a sprint, faster than a jog
  • Jog across to the opposite side of the end zone
  • Stride 100 yards again
  • Walk across the end zone to the starting point
  • Repeat four to 10 times.

Again, start with the lower training volume (four sets) early on and increase it as the season progresses.

Four Quarters

This is one of the best conditioning drills around in my opinion. It trains players to push a max effort consistently through every quarter of a game.

Sets/Reps: 4×4 (two to three minutes rest between quarters)

  • 10-yard sprints with a 10-second rest between sprints
  • 20-yard sprints with a 20-second rest between sprints
  • 30-yard sprints with a 30-second rest between sprints
  • 20-yard sprint, 20-yard stride, 20-yard sprint, 20-yard stride and 20-yard sprint with a 30-second rest between
  • This ends one quarter. Go again three more times.

Now that you have new conditioning exercises to increase your fitness and stamina, head over to Eastbay to get the latest in football and training equipment and Prepare To Win.

Science, CrossFit, and Running: 3 Principles to Injury-Proof Runners

Science, CrossFit, and Running: 3 Principles to Injury-Proof Runners



Courtesy of stack.com

words // T.J. Murphy

Sometimes the schedule gets slammed. On such days, Dr. Brian Hickey, PhD, an exercise scientist and assistant professor at Florida A&M University, has to shoehorn a workout into 10 minutes or less, or skip it altogether.

But skipping is not really an option. An accomplished runner and duathlete, honored in 2004 as Florida Track and Field Athlete of the Year, Hickey abides by a “No Days Off” policy. He says, “You miss one day, and it becomes easier to discover reasons why you might miss two days or three.”

Plenty of research suggests that you can get a productive workout in ten minutes, he avers. But he adds, there are reasons why a runner wanting to achieve high performance and longevity should avoid the high-mileage regimens recommended in most conventional running programs—in which a runner accumulates as much volume as possible, running upwards of 60, 80, or 100 miles per week, month after month.

“I want to make every step count,” Hickey says, reacting to Runner’s World survey data from 2009 showing that at least 65 percent of runners suffer an injury each year.

For dedicated marathoners, the situation is even worse. A 2007 conference paper prepared at Stanford University and published in Sports Medicine revealed that when preparing for the marathon, 90 percent of runners incur an injury of some sort—mostly involving the knees. According to the Stanford researchers, things become especially perilous when a runner averages more than 5 miles per day. “There is a particularly high risk for injury when crossing a threshold of 40 miles per week,” the study asserts.

With more than 25 years of experience competing and coaching, Hickey has special clarity on the issue of smart training. With his own field-testing, he has compared scientific research to what works and what doesn’t work.

Make every step count

Hickey spends his miles like a miser—running no more than 20 miles per week—and targets specific training effects he wants from each mile. “If you don’t know the purpose of a workout, you are not only throwing away potential performance gains, you’re opening the door to unnecessary injury risk,” he says.

Whereas traditional training programs often include easy runs of 30 to 60 minutes and easy long runs of two hours or more—both to build cardiovascular fitness— Hickey believes the cost of the pounding outweighs the benefits. Instead, he uses the high-intensity, low-duration model in CrossFit Endurance, in which the body’s energy systems are trained with a mixture of interval workouts, time trials and racing, combined with CrossFit-style high-intensity metabolic conditioning workouts, which build stamina and endurance.

Studies supporting the crossover from circuit training to running go back to a National Athletic Health Institute study performed in the 1970s. Participants improved their running endurance by 5 to 6 percent over 10 weeks without running a single step. Hickey says that CrossFit workouts—without the joint-wearing effects of logging many miles—produce bonus effects of increased mobility, stamina, elasticity, and core strength. He also hedges his bets by riding his bike to boost his oxidative system like easy running does, but with zero impact.

Minimize ground contact time

Hickey uses the core strength he builds with CrossFit to facilitate a style of running that further reduces musculoskeletal punishment. “Think about inertia,” he says, referring to Newton’s First Law of Motion: an object moving at a constant velocity stays at that velocity unless acted upon by another force. “You want to minimize those forces out to slow you down.”

Hickey works to maintain a stride rate of 180 steps per minute to minimize ground contact time. “If I minimize ground contact time, I’ll maximize rotation at the hip,” he says.

In this scenario, the hip acts like a second foot. Also, the less time the foot spends on the ground, the fewer twisting forces are transmitted to the knees.

“The problem when you slow down to 80 strides per minute or less is that you lumber along,” Hickey says. “What happens then? The hip comes through and plop, your foot just stays there.” It becomes a constant start and stop, and the accumulation of countering forces will—on each and every landing of the foot—have a leaden effect on inertia. “With a fast stride rate, my lower leg is just along for the ride,” Hickey says. “I run more with my heart and lungs.”

Lift heavy

On days when Hickey is exceptionally busy and has only a brief window in which to train, he uses his time to stimulate the natural hormones in his body, namely testosterone and human growth hormone, which produce lean muscle mass, a boost in VO2 max, and a host of other positive biochemical effects. He says, “If you only have five minutes, go swing a heavy kettlebell. Or do three sets of five deadlifts.”

One of Hickey’s favorite workouts in a pinch is to grab a 24-kg kettlebell and rip through 100 swings as fast as possible. A 2010 study at Truman State University found that kettlebell work triggers a high heart rate and delivers considerable endurance benefits. In just a few minutes, Hickey performs a workout that boosts his core strength and endurance while stimulating a powerful hormonal response.

As a Masters athlete in his mid-40s, Hickey says that strength/power work is crucial. Among the effects of aging are a decline in power, muscle mass, and flexibility. These declines can be mitigated, if not countered, by lifting heavy weights as part of a weekly schedule.

The right training routine is only part of a runner’s development. To be prepared to win, the proper running shoes and clothing are essential. Head over to Eastbay to get race-ready running gear from the most trusted brands.

Five Fundamental Exercises for Baseball Position Players

Five Fundamental Exercises for Baseball Position Players

Five Fundamental Exercises for Baseball Position Players (2)

Courtesy of stack.com

There are a few things college baseball scouts especially look for when watching prospects: throwing speed, baseball hitting coordination and power, and fielding skills. Many baseball players and most coaches think lifting weights increases baseball hitting, which is true, but you must have the correct exercises to get the most benefit.

The following five fundamental exercises, performed during the off-season, will give baseball players their best chance to succeed.

Fundamental Baseball Exercises

1. Med Ball Rotational Tosses

It is not brute strength that cranks the ball over the wall, but the ability to quickly generate immense amounts of power. The perfect tandem of power and strength will greatly increase your hitting distance. Med balls are a great tool to help generate power.

The problem with sports training is everyone trains predominantly on a rotational plane. This means if you swing right-handed, coaches focus on rotating to the left, because that is the same direction in which you hit. Developing balance — not neglecting the opposite side — will help stabilize ballplayers and improve their baseball hitting abilities.

2. Kettlebell Swings

The kettlebell swing may be the best single exercise you can do. Not many exercises besides Olympic lifts can generate both strength and power with such a high demand. The force generated in the posterior chain for the kettlebell swing mirrors that for hitting. Increase the amount of kettlebell swings in your strength program, and watch your hitting power progress nicely.

3. Sled Pushes and Pulls

There are countless lower-body and midsection strength exercises, but maybe the most all-around exercises are sled pushes and pulls. You can use sleds for conditioning tools, but you can also use them for leg strength. Pushing and pulling a loaded sled will dominate an athlete’s legs and promote huge increases in leg strength during the off-season. There is not a great deal of form importance on the sled, which makes it very easy and effective for youth athletes. Sleds and baseball hitting distance go hand-in-hand, because the majority of the baseball swing’s power is generated from the lower body.

4. Hang Clean

Olympic lifting can be very complex. Shortening the learning curve can help. You can do a hang clean with a barbell and not have much competition when it comes to force production and speed. Just like when hitting a baseball, the hang clean takes just fractions of a second and tests your coordination and speed. Start light and work on technique, then

add plates to the bar and watch your hitting power explode.

5. Front Squats

When you swing a baseball bat, the vast majority of the force production comes from the front of your body. Your upper body, abdominals, hips and quads generate a great deal of power. The more power and speed produced, the farther the baseball travels. Front squats are a great full-body exercise that increases trunk stability and skyrockets leg strength. Incorporating front squats in a strength program for baseball players will lead to further ball travel.

Now that you’ve got five new exercises to increase your hitting ability, head over to Eastbay to get the latest game-changing baseball cleats, clothing, and gear and prepare to win.

Five Fundamental Exercises for Baseball Position Players (1)

Improve Your Explosive Offense Like Paul Rabil

Improve Your Explosive Offense Like Paul Rabil

Improve Your Explosive Offense Like Paul Rabil

Courtesy of stack.com

One of the most decorated players in lacrosse history, Paul Rabil set the MLL single-season scoring record in 2012 with 72 points.

Video: STACK Performance Series 121: Improve Your Explosve Offense Like Paul Rabil

Rabil has one of the hardest shots in the game. However, he scores most of his goals because he’s able to catch goalies off guard with his quick release. To improve this critical skill, he performs drills that require him to shoot while sprinting toward the net to simulate an offensive attack.

To improve his explosive offense, Rabil performs the shot-on-the-run drill.

To improve your explosive offense, add the shot-on-the-run to your training. Perform three sets of 10 reps, twice per week.

Once you add the shot-on-the-run drill to your training program, head over to Eastbay to get the latest game-changing lacrosse cleats, clothing, and gear and prepare to win.

The Secret To Training Gains: Less is More

The Secret To Training Gains: Less is More

The Secret To Training Gains: Less is More

Courtesy of stack.com

words // Tony Gentilcore

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to offer my head up as a punching bag when I talk to young athletes about training. They complain that they can’t put on weight or get stronger, then proceed to tell me that their previous workout was a biceps and lower ab day.

Walk into Cressey Performance on any given day and you’ll see our athletes deadlifting, pushing sleds, cranking out chin-ups and using squat racks for their intended purpose—not performing bicep curls. They focus on the “big rocks” and don’t waste time on what I call “training minutiae.” To put it another way: they perform heavy, multi-joint movements instead of training their beach muscles.

It’s inevitable that many of them sneak in some arm and ab work on their own time. But when they’re under my roof, they concentrate on the “big rocks,” because that’s what makes them bigger, faster and stronger.

The ‘Big Rocks’ Concept

The story goes like this: A professor asks his students to fill a bucket with rocks, pebbles, and sand. He places the big rocks in the bucket, then asks his students how to add the remaining items. Not surprisingly, the students place the pebbles and then the sand in the bucket. In the end, everything fits in the bucket.

The professor then asks his students to fill the bucket in reverse order. After pouring in the sand, the students realize that the sand alone fills the entire bucket and nothing else can fit.

“It is the same with time,” explains the teacher. “Give time slots to the big things before anything else. Otherwise, the inevitable sand will fill up your day.”

The Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle (a.k.a. the 80-20 Rule) is named for Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, whose work validates the concept of “big rocks.” He demonstrated in the early 1900s that 80 percent of the wealth in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population.

Since its inception, the Pareto Principle has been studied and applied to every facet of life. More often than not, it proves that a few activities (20 percent) provide the greatest return on investment (80 percent). For example:

  • 20 percent of the crops a farmer plants result in 80 percent of the overall yield.
  • 20 percent of a company’s clients account for 80 percent of its profit.
  • 20 percent of the exercises you perform produce 80 percent of the gains.

Training Implications

To get results from your training, you need to embrace the concept of “big rocks” and spend most of your time performing a few exercises that offer the most bang for your clock. If you’re good at these movements, there’s a good chance you will be one of the biggest and strongest athletes on the field.

I get my athletes into the mindset of movement-specific workouts, rather than body-part specific workouts. For example, they will perform a “deadlift day” (rocks) rather than a “hip/leg day” (sand), or they’ll do a “chin-up day” (rocks) instead of an “arm day” (sand).

Here’s an example of what a “big rocks” workout looks like:

Deadlift Day

Full foam rolling and dynamic warm-up

I recommend performing two to three additional workouts per week, emphasizing one primary movement each day (think: deadlift, bench variation, chin-up, row variation). Follow with accessory work to complement the main movement and address glaring weaknesses or imbalances.

Avoid “fluffy” programs and exercises. Master the basics and good things will happen.

The right training routine, focused on movement-specific workouts, can help you strengthen all the main muscles in your body. While completing the most efficient and beneficial exercises is important, wearing the proper gear helps you prepare to win during the toughest workouts. Eastbay is your source for high-performance training clothing and shoes from the most trusted brands.