Lift Strong Excerpt: NFL Linebacker In-Season Strength Program

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(Identity hidden due to NFL contract obligations)

*The number of workouts that this athlete performed each week with me was dependent on the team’s practice schedule, meeting schedule, travel time & injuries that occurred during the season. There were also week’s when the athlete was obligated to put in more time & effort during the team’s strength-training workouts and therefore we cut back on his time with me.

*Also note the LACK of variety in exercise selection. This was by design. During the season, I like to stick with a core group of exercises that the athlete is accustomed to. This helps prevent soreness during the season. The goal of this in-season strength program was to prevent injury and to maintain strength & muscle mass WITHOUT inducing muscular soreness. This happened to be this athlete’s contract year & thankfully he was able to stay pretty healthy and he had a very productive year. He signed a multi-million dollar contract after this season.

WEEKS 1 & 2

TUESDAY

1. Lower Body P.N.F. Stretching Routine / Med ball tosses

2A. Flat DB bench, palms in – 3 X 10

2B. Seated low rows (close, neutral grip) – 3 X 10

3. Bulgarian Split Squats, holding DB’s – 3 X 8

4A. DB shrugs – 3 X 10

4B. Face Pulls – 3 X 12

5. Sprinter Sit-ups – 3 X 20

THURSDAY

1. Ground-based mobility warm-up

2. Box Jumps – 3 X 5 jumps

3.Dynamic Box Squats + 2 chains – 8 X 2 w/ 45% (removed chains on last set)

4. Reverse Hyperextensions – 3 sets of 12

5A. Hanging leg raises – 3 X 15

5B. Neck harness (flex & ext) – 3 X 10

FRIDAY

1.  Lower Body P.N.F. Stretching Routine / Med ball tosses

2. Thick bar bench press – worked up to 85% for 2 sets of 3

3. Lat pulldowns – 4 X 10

4A. DB lateral raises – 3 X 10

4B. DB curls, palms up – 3 X 10

WEEKS 3 & 4

TUESDAY

1. Lower Body P.N.F. Stretching Routine / Med ball tosses

2. Thick bar bench + 2 chains – worked up to 90% for 3 singles

3. Incline DB bench, palms in – 2 X 12

4A. Lat Pulldowns (wide, neutral grip) – 3 X 10

4B. Scarecrows – 3 X 10

5A. DB shrugs – 2 X 12

5B. Seated external rotation, elbow on knee – 2 X 12

6. Ground-based abdominal circuit

FRIDAY

1. Lower Body P.N.F. Stretching Routine

2. Box Jumps – 3 X 3 jumps

3. Dynamic Box Squats + 2 chains – 8 X 2 w/ 45% (removed chains on last set)

4A. Reverse Hyperextensions – 3 X 12

4B. Front abdominal bridge – 3 X 30 sec.

WEEK 5

*Only trained once this week due to practice schedule, meetings and off-field obligations

FRIDAY

1. Lower Body P.N.F. Stretching Routine

2.  Dynamic Box Squats + 2 chains – 6 X 2 w/45% (removed chains on last set)

3.  Thick bar floor press – worked up to a heavy set of 3

4A.   Scarecrows – 3 X 10

4B.   Reverse Hyperextensions – 3 X 10

5.     Alternate hammer curls – 3 X 6 each arm

WEEKS 6 & 7

*Athlete suffered an AC joint sprain in week 5 making a tackle during the game.

TUESDAY

1.  Upper Body stretching  (pecs, lats, internal rotator stretch)

2.  Standing cable external rotation, elbow at side – 3 X 15

3.  Chest supported rows – 4 X 10

4A.   Scarecrows – 3 X 12

4B.   Purple band triceps pushdowns – 3 sets totaling 100 reps (34, 33, 33)

5A.   DB shrugs (light) – 3 X 10

5B.   Captains of Crush gripper (trainer) – 3 X 15

6.      Weighted Swiss ball crunches – 3 X 15

FRIDAY

1. Lower Body P.N.F. Stretching Routine

2.  Box Jumps – 3 X 3

3. Dynamic Box squats (Safety bar) + 2 chains – 6 X 2 w/45% (removed chains on last set)

4A. Reverse Hyperextensions – 3 X 12

4B. Hanging leg raises – 3 X 12

WEEKS 8 & 9

*Athlete’s shoulder starting to feel better…

TUESDAY

1. Upper Body stretching (pecs, lats, internal rotator stretch)

2. 4 Board press – worked up to a heavy set of 5 on week 8 & a triple on week 9

3. Green band triceps pushdowns – 3 X 20, 15, 15

4.  Low rows (wide, neutral) – 3 X 12

5A. DB Shrugs – 3 X 10

5B. Face pulls – 3 X 10

6.  Ground-based, high rep abdominal circuit

FRIDAY

1.   Lower Body P.N.F. Stretching Routine

2.   Box Jumps – 3 X 3

3.   Dynamic Box squats (Safety bar) + 2 chains – 6 X 2 w/45% (removed chains on last set)

4A.  Reverse Hyperextensions – 3 X 12

4B.  Standing (green) band crunches – 3 X 12

WEEKS 10 & 11

*Tendonitis in knee really started acting up after Sunday’s game…

TUESDAY

1.   TKE’s – 3 X 20 each leg

2.   3-board press – worked up to 2 heavy sets of 3 (Week 11 the athlete felt good

and hit 92% of his off-season max in the 3-board press for a single)

3.   Incline, alternate DB bench (palms in) – 2 X 12

4A.   Lat Pulldowns (mid-pronated grip) – 3 X 10

4B.   Rear delt flyes (pinkies up) – 3 X 10

5A.   DB Shrugs – 3 X 10

5B.   Cable lateral raises (light) – 3 X 10 each arm

6.      Sprinter sit-ups – 2 X 20

FRIDAY

1.  Lower Body P.N.F. Stretching Routine

2.  TKE’s – 3 X 20 each leg

3.  Box Squats + 3 chains – 6 X 2 w/ 38%. Lowered the bar under control then raised quickly. (*Lowering the bar  rapidly was too much stress on the knee.)

4.  Reverse Hypers – 3 X 12

WEEK 12

*Missed an entire week of training due to off-field “appearances”. (This stuff really pisses me off!)

WEEKS 13 & 14

*Knee was still bothering him & both shoulders were acting up a little. His hamstring was also very tight…he “tweaked” it running down on kickoff. It wasn’t pulled, but just really tight.

TUESDAY

  1. Stretching – We first performed some upper body static stretching (pecs, lats & internal rotator stretch.) I then stretched the hell out of his hip flexors. (I have found stretching the hip flexors alleviates some tension & pain when the hamstrings are really tight.) I didn’t stretch his hamstrings because he was getting soft tissue work done from an A.R.T specialist later tonight.)
  2. TKE’s – 3 X 20 each leg
  3. Close grip bench press (index finger on smooth part of bar) – Performed 3 sets of 6. (The closer grip didn’t bother his shoulders at all.)
  4. Chest supported rows – 3 X 12
  5. DB shrugs – 3 X 12
  6. Cable external rotation, elbow at side – 2 X 15 each arm

FRIDAY

  1. Lower Body P.N.F. Stretching Routine (didn’t stretch hamstrings)
  2. TKE’s – 3 X 20 each leg
  3. Box Squats + 3 chains – 6 X 2 w/ 38%. Lowered the bar under control then raised quickly. (*Lowering the bar rapidly was too much stress on the knee.)
  4. Reverse Hypers – 3 X 12
  5. Sprinter sit-ups – 3 X 20

WEEK 15, 16 & 17

*After a somewhat sluggish 2 weeks, I could tell the season was really starting to take its toll (like it always does!) So we discussed him only coming in once a week for the final 3 weeks. He would focus on getting treatment and doing his “rehab” exercises at the stadium. Then, when he came to me, we just focused on our “core” strength exercises. This enabled me to keep my workouts with him short & sweet for the final 3 weeks. This is very important during the end of the season. (This is when most athletes just drop their training all together.)

*This particular athlete preferred doing “dynamic” squats and reverse hypers 2 days before the game (he actually swore by this & he really felt that it helped him), so we performed our workout on Fridays.

FRIDAY

1.   Lower Body P.N.F. Stretching Routine

2.   Box Squats + 3 chains – 6 X 2 w/ 38%. Lowered the bar under control then

raised quickly. Performed final set with no chains.

3A.   Flat DB bench, palms in – 4 X 6, increasing weight

3B.   Low rows (close, neutral grip) – 4 X 10

4A.   Reverse Hypers – 3 X 12

4B.   Front bridge – 3 X 30 sec.

5.      Biceps (choice) - if he felt like it

 

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