The NFL is one of the biggest and most exciting leagues in the world. Millions of people tune into the action every week, and the NFL is home to some of the strongest and fastest athletes. It takes a lot of training to become an NFL athlete, with hard work in training equating to results on the field. The biggest stars might be gifted, but they also spend countless hours in the gym to get to where they are.
As well as watching and betting on the NFL, why not make it your new year’s resolution to train like an NFL player too? You don’t need to have aspirations of becoming a pro football player, but simply changing your routine and increasing your exercise can have a number of health benefits. Here are some of the ways you can start training like an NFL player.
The Right Gym Routine
The gym is the second home of an NFL player, with a lot of work being done to ensure that each athlete is in the best possible condition. The focus is typically on developing strength and power, and this is done through lifting heavy and ensuring that the correct movements are used. Compound lifts such as squats, bench press, and overhead press are all important, and it’s also a good idea to get enough volume for each exercise. This means ensuring that you use the right rep range and add enough sets to your routine.
While weights are the staple of a strength and conditioning program, other exercises shouldn’t be overlooked. Specifically, you should consider adding exercises that build explosive power. These include things like box jumps, squat jumps, kettlebell movements, and even some calisthenics. Bodyweight exercises that are ideal for football training include burpees, pull-ups, press-ups, and anything that works the core.
Lastly, you should also ensure that you get enough rest to allow your muscles time to recover and rebuild. Taking rest days is crucial, although it might feel counterproductive. When you’re recovering from a hard training session, you can ease your pain and discomfort by using foam rollers or massage guns. These will work to release knots in your muscle, allowing you to get relief and feel better. You can still do some light exercise, but you don’t want to lift weights or do intense cardio sessions.
Don’t Neglect Cardio
Strength is crucial for NFL players, but a high level of cardiovascular fitness is also required to be in optimal shape. For ideal conditioning, you’ll want to combine both long-distance runnings with short, explosive sprints. Sprints are better for preparing you for football, as most of the work you do on the field will be completed within short bursts. This trains your muscles to work explosively, allowing you to generate more power to accelerate faster and increase your top speed.
Sprinting should be treated like lifting heavy weights. You want to do short bursts of intense effort, but allow plenty of time to recover in between. When you’re doing sprints, you’re training your anaerobic capacity, which means your muscles get better at working without oxygen. Therefore, you don’t need to make yourself out of breath. Rest and rest between each sprint, and make sure you take rest days in between sessions.
You can work on your overall fitness by adding long-distance cardio, running, swimming, or even using machines such as stationary bikes and rowing machines. You can do some slow but long-distance work to warm up before a session and then finish off with some fast sprints. Just as with lifting weights, ensure you get enough volume and progression while also giving your body time to recover between sessions.
Getting Your Diet Right
If you want to get in shape, the right exercise is only part of it. You also need to eat right. However, eating like an NFL athlete means getting in a lot of calories and plenty of protein. Top players in the NFL will eat around 25g of protein six times a day, with meals every three hours. That’s a lot of food, with most of the protein coming from meat. Bear in mind that your calorie intake will depend on your BMI and the amount of work you do. You want to eat above your maintenance in order to fuel muscle growth and repair.
You can also get in shape without eating such a huge amount, but if you want to fuel your body and give it enough protein to rebuild and repair muscles, you do need to eat a lot of protein. Most athletes supplement with protein shakes, which provide a faster and less calorific way of getting the right nutrients.
Protein isn’t the only nutrient you’ll need. If you’re exercising a lot, carbohydrates will be your main source of fuel. Make sure you’re eating enough complex carbs while avoiding simple carbs such as sugar and processed foods. You need vitamins too, so don’t neglect fruit and vegetables if you want to be healthy.
Aside from food, you also want to ensure you’re properly hydrated. During an intense workout, your body will sweat a lot to cool down, which means you not only lose water but also important minerals such as salt. Make sure you drink enough during and after your workout, and also replenish any lost minerals with isotonic drinks.
NFL players train on average three to four hours every day. Most people don’t have that much time to commit to training, which is why most people can’t reach that level of athleticism. However, even if you don’t have several hours each week to train, you can still change your training routine and see real improvements in your life.
You may not be able to become an NFL player if you don’t have loads of time to spare. However, you’ll still become stronger, faster, and healthier than before as long as you train hard and consistently. Track your progress and set goals to help you stay focused.