Top 4 Bodyweight Exercises For Football LINEMAN | AT HOME WORKOUT
Offensive and defensive lineman come through our doors at Garage Strength frequently. Oftentimes they show up and are poorly trained; meaning, they have a lack of coordination as demonstrated by their body control. They struggle to manipulate their body to get it to do things they want it to do.
What does this have to do with applying strength on the football field?
Offensive and defensive lineman have a lot of positions they need to move rapidly into. They have to be in mobile positions with a quick first step and a quick punch--the sooner the hand gets on the opponent’s body, the faster they can exert control. All of these little facets add up and come into play.
As our linemen, the athletes who come through our doors, start to develop and become stronger with their own bodyweight, that is when we see them start to reach greater levels on the field: all state status and D1 signings.
Absolute strength, dynamic strength and technical coordination are very important for offensive and defensive linemen, but it all starts with the base foundation of knowing one’s bodyweight and handling it effectively. It allows the lineman, when on the football field, to take that force based off their own bodyweight manipulation and start to effectively manipulate opponents.
Let’s take a look at a few key exercises that allow offensive and defensive linemen to improve body control and ultimately dominate their opponents.
4. Towel Reclining Row
Let’s recognize that there are a lot of athletes out there that do not have access to a gym. They may be stuck in quarantine or all the gyms are shut down. That’s one of the beauties of all these exercises: they can be done at home.
The towel reclining row can be done just about anywhere. Got a door frame? Got a handle? Wrap a towel and start doing the reclining row. Why do this movement? Well to start, row targets the forearms, lats and biceps. All muscles that are important for line play in the trenches. Think about grappling, pushing and pummeling on the line of scrimmage.
But why the towel? One, it creates more range of motion. Two, it forces scapular retraction which helps with shoulder stability. And three, the towel mimics the jersey. Utilizing the towel creates a great transfer of grip strength to grabbing and pulling the jersey.
Hit this movement anywhere from five to seven sets of ten to seventeen reps.
3. The Glide...Reverse Drop Lunge
This is mainly for offensive linemen.
Let’s speak to two of the greatest offensive linemen ever to play the game: Joe Thomas and Jonathan Ogden. They both threw the shot put. Not only did they throw the shot put, but they threw the shot put with a glide technique.
Now listening to Joe Thomas, and one of the reasons is unorthodox technique was so effective, because he utilized the glide movement as his kick step. He had a stance that mimicked the glide out of the back.
We recommend that offensive linemen learn how to glide, learn how to throw. It will help linemen become more explosive and apply every ounce of strength into an object. It is also going to help linemen be faster off the line.
Now if learning how to throw using the glide is completely out of the question, we recommend doing a reverse drop lunge. When doing a reverse drop lunge, take a step back and drop rapidly and then drive back forward. It is done like a plyometric lunge.
Do this exercise two, three days a week for four to five sets of five reps on each leg. That will go a long way. Still, check out Joe Thomas and do due-diligence to learn how Joe Thomas applied the principles of the glide to own the trenches at the highest levels.
2. Gwiz Jump To Broad Jump
This is a very complicated exercise. We typically don’t use this with our elite offensive or defensive linemen until they are in eleventh or twelfth grade. Why we love this movement is because it puts the athlete in a very low position. We know that hip height wins. Lower hips will dominate on the gridiron, so if the athlete can put out a ton of force from a deep position, the athlete is even better. That is where the Gwiz jump comes in.
We want to put the back knee on a pad with the front foot forward. The back foot has to stay flexed, meaning we have to have flexion in the knee. We want to drive off the forward foot jumping off a single leg, landing on two feet to explode into a double leg bound. Like we said, this movement is really, really challenging and really, really complicated.
Can’t do the Gwiz jump? We can do jump lunges with pauses in the split for two seconds. From there we can progress into a jump lunge into a single leg bound with a two foot landing. Master that, then go ahead and try the Gwiz jump.
So not only is this Gwiz jump to broad jump series incredibly complicated, it will transfer incredibly to the first step off the ball and improve overall coordination. In addition, it will help athletes learn how to put out a ton of power from a very low position.
We recommend doing five sets of this movement for one series on each leg.
1. PVC Push Up With Isometric Hold
Now we know this movement is not strictly a bodyweight movement, but all that is needed is a two to three inch thick PVC pipe. This is an upper body movement that we do by doing the push up with both hands. After driving up, we hold our hand on the PVC pipe at our chest for a slow two count before heading back down.
Think about an offensive or defensive lineman posting up a single hand on their opponent, especially defensive linemen. A lot of time the one arm is extended, grabbing with their hand to try and manipulate their opponent. The other arm that is free can club, rip or grab if the ball is coming through the gap to tackle with the free hand. The PVC pipe push up mirrors this on field scenario.
In this movement we have to grab the PVC pipe, helping grip strength and stability and teach the pecs how to recruit muscle fibers tremendously. It also forces stabilization being coordinated between the trunk and the arm. Let’s face it, a lot of hand fighting takes place unilaterally in football. That’s where this variation of football comes into play.
Do this movement twice a week for five sets of five each side, holding the isometric for a slow two seconds. Besides its transfer to the field, this movement improves the bench press lift because of increased stability in the pec and shoulder.
Football linemen have big bodies. It is important to be able to manipulate those massive bodies in a manner that is conducive to power output. To optimize power output, technical coordination is a must. Thankfully, bodyweight exercises catalyze muscular coordination, forcing athletes to extend a locus of control upon their mass. Not only do these movements, such as the PVC pipe push up with isometric hold and the Gwiz jump into broad jump, engender tremendous power output from mobile positions, they demand stability and conjure athleticism typically reserved for skill positions.
So use that towel to hammer some reclining rows and better that jersey grappling strength for tackles and shedding blockers and go ahead and learn the shot put glide technique in the manner of a reverse lunge to pack a punch like kool-aid.
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.