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Playing football requires the body to function at a high level in many different ways. Cross-training regimens allow you to get well-rounded workouts that challenge all aspects of your body, reduce injury risk and avoid boredom. Any comprehensive cross-training routine for football should include activities that improve a player's cardiovascular endurance, strength, speed and agility.
Swimming is a nearly perfect cross training technique because it benefits the body in so many ways. Swimming strengthens the muscles, and because there are so many different swimming styles -- from the butterfly stroke that strengthens the chest and shoulders, to the backstroke that works the hamstrings -- a total body workout is easily achievable. Swimming also increases cardiovascular endurance and lung capacity, while working the joints of the hips, ankles and shoulders to improve flexibility and agility.
Basketball is an excellent cardiovascular exercise because the constant movement burns calories and increases lung capacity and endurance. In addition, the abrupt stops, starts, changes of direction and jumping involved in basketball work to improve balance, agility and leg strength. The ball skills involved in basketball are also beneficial for all football skill position players. Catching a basketball in midair, dribbling through a crowd or driving to the hoop for a score will increase the skills of any quarterback, receiver or running back.
Football games are won at the line of scrimmage, and a team can only win that battle if its players are strong and powerful. When it comes to adding strength-building exercises to any cross-training routine, the use of free weights and weight machines is essential. Most coaching staffs will outline both in-season and offseason workouts for their players, with specific exercises geared to their position. Some forms of Yoga, such as Ashtanga and Power Yoga, which require the individual to bear their own body weight, are also good additions to any strength-training routine.
Track and Field
Track and field offers a wide range of events that can greatly improve the overall fitness and condition of football players. For skill players such as running backs, receivers and defensive backs, the sprint events such as the 100- and 200-meter dashes provide training that increases explosiveness and speed maintenance ability. The field events offer different types of advantages, with events such as the shot put and discus providing upper-body and lower-body conditioning for linemen on both sides of the ball.
Running Stadium Stairs
Running stairs is a powerful addition to any football cross-training routine because of its effectiveness in building lower-body strength and endurance. When running stairs, the leg muscles are forced to work much harder than in normal running exercises because the legs have to push upward on each up step and balance forward on the downward ones. This strengthens the legs much more effectively than standard road work.