Prepare for the Football Season Without a Weight Room

Bart Arnold, M.Sc. (Ex. Phys.), B.A., P.F.L.C.
Human Performance Center, Coordinator, University of Saskatchewan
Level 4 Football Coaching Certification Candidate

Football is a sport that requires a wide array of physical ability. Speed, power, strength, agility, endurance and flexibility are some of these abilities that coaches seek and players try to enhance. It is an accepted fact that football players, and most athletes, will benefit from a strength training program. The obvious benefits are injury prevention and improved performance.

The problem is that many high school athletes don't have access to a weight room facility. Or, once the school year has come to an end, access to the high school facility is no longer available. The two month period leading to the start of football practices in the fall are arguably the most important. These athletes need an alternative strength training program that does not require typical weight room equipment.

This is the solution: Dynamic Strength Training

The term Dynamic Strength Training is not new. At the University of Saskatchewan, this type of training is used to serve as a bridge between typical weight room training and sport specific training prior to the start of the season. One of the main benefits from this type of training is that the range of motion for many exercises is much greater compared to training with typical weight room equipment. Also, if executed properly, Dynamic Strength Training is an effective way to improve Core Strength.


Bench Press (using Universal Gym) VS. Push Ups (hands on basketballs)
Bench Press: major muscles involved - pectorals, deltoids, triceps
Push up: major muscles involved - pectorals, deltoids, triceps
PLUS: shoulder stabilizers, abdominal muscles, low back and hips

here are major benefits to the Push Up exercise because of the recruitment of other muscles that are also critical for most athletic movements. One of the major drawbacks to exercises that the athlete uses a bench to sit or lie on is that the bench acts as a stabilizer for the athlete. The athlete does not have the bench on the field to assist his stability. The issue of stability can be addressed through Dynamic Strength Training. One question from athletes who have developed significant strength in the weight room is "how can push ups really be hard enough to improve my strength?" This question is quickly answered when the athlete is not able to perform 10 quality push ups with his hands on basketballs.

What follows here is a sound strength program that any High School football player can do with very little equipment.

Example Program

Frequency: 3 times per week. One day of rest between each training session
Intensity: 3 - 4 sets of 10 - 15 repetitions
Rest Between Sets: approximately 2 minutes

Upper Body

Push Ups
- each hand on a basketball
- progression: elevate feet, lift one foot off floor

- for shoulders and back muscles - stand further away from tubing attachment or double the tubing

Push Up
- both hands on 1 ball
- progression: elevate feet

Lower Body

Lunge Walk
- 4 sets of 15 meters
- progression: hold paint cans, dumbbells (add weight)

Squat Jump
- progression: hold dumbbells, one leg jumps

Calf Raise
- on step in house
- progression: hold extra weight, one leg at a time

The Exercises:

Technique Considerations
Push Up Variations - chest, shoulders and arms
Ensure that proper body alignment is maintained - no arching, no sagging
Tempo - emphasis on controlled movements
Quality - Not Quantity!

Tubing - for the back
* Use something stable to attach the tubing (ie. Door handle).
* Face the tubing, assume a good athletic body position (knees bent, abs tight).
* Hold each end of the tubing - medium resistance is required.
* Maintain a slight bend in the elbow throughout entire exercise.
* Movement: backward movement of arms, finish with palms facing the door, and hands at ear level.
* Trunk (mid section) must remain stable.

Surgical tubing can be purchased from most pharmacy's or medical supply companies for approximately $1 - $ 2 per foot. Six to eight feet is sufficient. Thicker tubing provides the most resistance.

Lunge Walk - for the legs
* Assume a stride positio
* Keep upper body upright - tighten abs and glutes
* Alternate legs for each stride
* Depth of each stride is 90 degree bend in the front leg

Squat Jump - for leg power Assume a 90 degree squat position.
* Jump as high as possible, land and achieve the squat position as quickly as possible.
* Repeat jumps with a quick tempo, but every jump must begin with a good squat position.