Best Lifts for Football Power


Best Lifts for Football Power


Football is a game of inches. Each down is won or loss based off of every small detail and precise execution. This creates a very complex system of training. We know that football players need to be explosive, they need to be strong, they need to be fast. These are all key elements behind developing elite players but oftentimes there is a big confusion behind the absolute best way to train for the gridiron.  Should football players do big squats? Is there a point in them even bench pressing? Should football players train more like sprinters or more like shot putters? How should an entire program be laid out and periodized to improve the overall quality of execution?!!? Ultimately, the entire goal is to bridge the gap between the weight room and the football field!


I Want to Be a Powerhouse...


That number one goal must be based around RAPID COORDINATION. If our football players can recruit their high threshold motor units faster than their opponent, we KNOW that they will be in a better position to dominate the field. As sports performance coaches, it is also important to acknowledge that the speed and strength must match the bodyweight and power output of their opponents! What’s that mean? We MUST be strong with heavy weights to conquer on the gridiron. That takes us to our fourth ranked exercise for explosive power.

Give Me the Exercises!


4. The No Feet Power Clean

What the heck is a no feet power clean? No feet doesn’t mean you do the lift without having feet. Instead, it means that the lift will be done without SLIDING the feet into a catch position. One of the biggest mistakes a football player can make on the field is based around leaving the ground unnecessarily. The no feet power clean TEACHES the football player how to apply force to the ground over a VERY LONG period of time. The second aspect behind this movement is that the feet remain grounded and this helps the football player learn how to ABSORB force at a higher rate as well, a key component behind opponent manipulation.

3. Pause Below the Knee Power Snatch

It has been embarrassing to be part of a sports performance world that has gotten away from Olympic lifting for sports development. This includes exercises like the snatch and the clean. Clearly, these coaches are not avoiding these lifts because of their efficacy, instead they are avoiding these lifts because they simply cannot coach effective technique.  This is horrible! The game of football is a technical game. Spend an afternoon watching football and you will realize quickly that the game is all about TECHNIQUE and power. Whoever has the best technique and applies force the fastest with that technique is the athlete that will win the position. That’s where power snatches come into play!  This position emulates the linebacker stance, the athletic stance that all football players will hold on the field. Come out of the pause position as QUICKLY as possible while coordinating rapidly in the catch!


2. Full Clean

Oh my goodness, more TECHNICAL lifts for football?!?! We need to focus on increasing force development, mobility, functionality of the football players hips and rapid coordination. The full clean helps athletes utilize force absorption for their own gains while increasing their strength as well. The full clean does ALL OF THIS and should be executed with solid technique on a regular basis! Now let’s get into that last key component.

1. On the Minute Drills

These drills mimic the way a football game is run...PERFECTLY! When football players are able to exhibit a TON of power over a 15-20 minute time frame in the weight room, they will be able to dominate the field. We utilize On The Minute drills by hitting a clean or a snatch and then hitting a 60 second timer. This can be referred to as the game clock.  The 60 seconds counts down and then at the end of the 60 second block, the player hits another set of snatches or cleans. The sport of football is based around holding good technique while under stress and fatigue. Utilize OTM drills for 10-15 minutes to really help get your players in strong shape!



Use these four exercises for football development at every single level of the game. It’s important to change the mindset of players to have a more TECHNICALLY oriented mind. Technical minds are more logical and more precise in their movement and that leads to greater understanding and more effective mechanics. Couple that with sound strength and mobility gains and all of a sudden, your football team will be conquering all of their opponents!

Dane Miller

Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.


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