The dream is universal among aspiring football players — play
hard, get drafted by the likes of the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Dallas
Cowboys and win a Super Bowl. But the jump from college to the pro
ranks is a daunting one, and many a "can't miss" prospect has gone from
boom to bust because they just weren't ready to do the elite-level
training, and study required on the NFL level. As we look at the
upcoming NFL Draft, here's a look at how projected Top 10 studs like
Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez, Michael Crabtree, and Jason Smith can
prepare for one of the most important days of their lives ... Day One of
2009 NFL training camp.
the same time, all of the workout strategies discussed below will
surely prove invaluable to football players at every level, as you
prepare for your own high school, college, Arena League or NFL training
You can count on a number of things happening during the upcoming
2009 NFL Draft
broadcast. Among the endless prognostication, a commentator will inevitably mention that the New England Patriot's MVP
was drafted at 199 in an attempt to justify why someone should watch
into the second day. There will be no shortage of colorful suits
straight outta Pimps-R-Us Warehouse. And no matter whom the
New York Jets
pick in the first round, their fans will boo mercilessly.
Amidst all the chatter about 40-yard-dash times, agility drills, and bench-press totals at this year's
2009 NFL scouting
combine, the most popular topic for commentators will be great boom and
bust picks of the past. When the Lions pick at #1, you'll hear as much
(picked #1 by the
Lions in 2002) as you will about super QB prospects Stafford and
Sanchez. When colossal OT Jason Smith is sitting at #2, somebody's
bound to mention ultra-failure Tony Mandarich. Hey, that big OLB Aaron
Curry is up? Remember how bad linebacker Brian Bosworth was?
Before the likes of the Detroit
Lions, St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs go "on the clock" on April
25 to kick off the proceedings at New York City's Radio City Music
Hall, it's interesting to take a look at just what the top players in
the country may have done—and what they will surely have to do over the
next few months—in an effort to improve their skills and status.
For instance, outside linebacker
a senior out of Wake Forest who is regarded by many as the best overall
player eligible if you take note of the numerous 2009 Mock Draft
boards. Or perhaps
of Georgia or
of U.S.C., universally regarded as the most promising quarterbacks, who
are both expected to go top 10 when all is said and done. Another top
pick, who may go as high as No. 2 to St. Louis, is
, the fleet-footed wide receiver out of Texas Tech.
Of course, they all have incredible skills, honed over years of playing
time and success on the high school and college level. But whether
preparing for a season, the NFL Scouting Combine, or with an eye toward
their upcoming rookie stints in training camps, they also surely made
weight training and conditioning drills a part of their regular
regimen. We spoke with Hollywood-based celebrity trainer Jimmy Peña,
MS, CSCS, who also serves as the fitness correspondent on the
for his training advice for some of the key positions. If you hope to
be a gridiron great yourself one day, these exercises and drills can
give you a step on the competition.
Quarterback: Forward Momentum
Succeeding at the all-important quarterback position requires a range
of finely tuned skills, from head to toe. "Much like a baseball
pitcher, who wants to have the same power in the seventh inning as the
first, a quarterback needs great legs," Peña points out. "That's why
pitchers rely a lot on stationary bike training."
However, unlike a pitcher, whose
range of throwing motion is very circular, a QB's motion is much more
straightforward, he explains. "That motion relies a lot on the triceps,
as far as explosion and endurance, especially the lateral head because
of the angle of the arm to the body."
The prescription? Close-grip Smith
bench presses incorporating a "throw," and high-rep dumbbell
skullcrushers. For the former, set a flat bench within a Smith machine,
load the bar with 50-60% of your max, and lie back into position, hands
spaced less-than-shoulder-width apart. From there, you'll do a
traditional close-grip press, but with a decided difference — you'll
let go of the bar at the top, then catch it with slightly bent arms
before performing the negative and starting the next rep.
"In traditional weightlifting, you
start your motion but then begin to decelerate as the bar reaches the
top of the motion," Peña explains. "However, a quarterback does not
decelerate his arm — he uses maximum power in a short swift motion and
lets the ball go. This relies on your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which
the explosive Smith machine movement will target."
Follow those with dumbbell
skullcrushers, otherwise known as French presses or lying triceps
extensions. "Skullcrushers mimic the motion of a throw," Peña says.
"And by using dumbbells instead of a barbell, you ensure that your
throwing arm gets fully taxed instead of allowing your other arm to
take on a disproportionate share of the workload."
Linebacker: Driving Force
|Smith-Machine Flat Bench Press with Throw
|Dumbbell Flat-Bench Skullcrusher
To battle through an offensive line to get to a quarterback or running
back, a linebacker needs to have a lot of leg and upper-body strength.
While a traditional barbell squat or overhead press is standard
protocol in the weight room, more apropos exercise techniques are
"reverse" and isometric tension moves.
"When you do a normal squat,
you're stronger because of the elastic energy built up when you drop
your hips downward and then go into the ascent," Peña says. "However,
on the field you don't always have that opportunity — essentially,
you're often starting in the 'down' position." To hone your power
specifically for that circumstance, try reverse power-rack squats.
Place the safety bars at the point where you would finish in the down
position, and set the bar on them. Load the bar, then situate yourself
under the bar in full squat position. From there, drive up through your
heels to a standing position. Repeat, resting the bar for 5 seconds on
the safeties between each rep.
Meanwhile, the isometric overhead
press can help you generate a lot of power, and more closely resembles
what occurs as you come out of a three-point stance and press against
an object that is pressing just as hard back at you. To do this
exercise, put the safeties just underneath shoulder level so your knees
have to be slightly bent (as they would be during a play). As most
plays last 5-10 seconds, you'll want to push the unloaded bar up
against the supports as hard as you can for 10 seconds at a time,
resting 30 seconds between each press.
Cornerback: Back to the Top
|Reverse Barbell Power-Rack Squat
|Isometric Power Rack Standing Overhead Press
||10 second holds
If you're a cornerback, your first motion on each play is backward as
you track the receiver with an eye on the line of scrimmage. The
kicking motion and knee extension you use to drive through the ground
is generated by your quadriceps. So in addition to regular gym-centric
exercises like squats, deadlifts and machine leg extensions to
strengthen your quads, you should get outside for a valuable cardio
drill: Weighted reverse hill sprints.
"The concept is simple: Put on a
weighted vest and run backwards up a hill as fast as you can," Peña
instructs. "If you do this drill regularly, once you get on a level
playing ground without a vest, you'll feel like you have an extra burst
of speed. It's similar to why a baseball player swings a weighted bat
before going up to the plate."
If you're a receiver, this drill
is a must as well — you'll just want to spend most of your sprints
running forward. Whether you're a corner or a receiver, you can also
add some sprints where you shuffle up sideways.
|Reverse Weighted Hill Sprints
||20-30 seconds (or to the top of the hill)
As the new NFL season grows closer, we'll have more training tips and
secrets from the experts to share with you. So check back often at your
training and supplementation source, Prosource.net!