The heat in America hasn’t subsided much yet, but the promise of a chill in the air is fast approaching as fans and players begin getting amped-up for the football season just around the corner. Soon the chill will be felt, brats and beverages will be abundant at tailgates, and the roar of the crowd will be heard from miles away as die-hard fans pack the stadium of their favorite professional players.
The players have been focused in training camp and forming their bodies into elite physical condition, all while braving the heat through the tumultuous Summer. Fortunately for the average gym rat, the gym offers safety from the heat and all the options of training like your favorite professional athlete.
If you want to workout like your favorite pro player, it may surprise you to realize how much flexibility training they implement in addition to their resistance training. These elite athletes aren’t simply pumping iron 24/7. Obviously strength training is a major facet of their workouts, but equally as important is the time they spend doing flexibility training such as yoga and core training such as Pilates. Yoga (or other various flexibility techniques) helps these athletes remain flexible, and Pilates (or other various core-strengthening techniques) help these athletes remain stable and injury-free.
In addition to the crazy amounts of stretching these guys do, they also implement a lot of foam work. Another term for this is Myofascial release, but it is most commonly referred to as foam rolling. Foam rollers are large, dense pieces of foam designed to be “rolled” over. Generally a 2 to 6 inch area is covered and a tender area of the body is usually the target zone. Your hamstrings, glutes, quads, and back, for instance, are great targets for this stretching technique. When you roll over these areas, the fascia in and surrounding the muscles will release due to the pressure being applied to the tight areas. It’s not the most comfortable of techniques, and your pain tolerance will be the indicator of using the roller directly on the tender area or simply near the tender area. Pro athletes use this technique often, and it helps them stay durable during a long season.
As mentioned before, strength and resistance training is a major fitness component of pro athletes, especially professional football players. These big guys are pushing each other around and slamming into each other like two tanks, and they are constantly working to be stronger than the guy lined up across from them. They engage in an ungodly amount of resistance training focused on power and strength. To train like one of these beasts, your reps will have to be low, and your weight will have to be low as well. Your fifth or sixth rep should be almost impossible. This weight-to-rep ratio will be your guideline for making huge strength gains just like the pros. As always, be careful and use a spotter when necessary. Increase your weight by 5-15% each week or two based on how often you train.
These athletes know the importance of power. They don’t simply want to be able to bench press 450 pounds, because they know it will be more important to “throw” 300 pounds away from their body in a powerful movement, which is exactly what lineman do when blocking. They also know the importance of speed. They constantly train with parachutes behind them as they sprint, and weighted vests as they jump and run. Kettleballs are always a staple, as well as superbands. They often work on flipping tires and throwing tires.
However you choose to train like your favorite pro athlete, focus on flexibility, core strength, strength training, power, speed, and foam rolling for recovery. You may not get as big as these monsters, but your physique will reach it’s peak.