NFL teams are getting back to work with various training camps set up across the United States. Teams are gearing up to make a run at the Super Bowl, with the champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers going into the campaign as the team to beat.
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As it pertains to training camp, players are getting back into the groove of things after an offseason break and have to show up to camps already in shape as the drills and practices could be quite demanding, especially in warmer locations. Bruce Arians has already criticized Bucs players for not getting themselves used to training in Florida’s hot temperatures.
“Each year the fight to survive another season begins under the sweltering summer sun. The days are long, the pain is real and the pressure is incredible,” Ryan Riddle, who played defensive end for the Oakland Raiders as well as the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, and Baltimore Raven, wrote for Bleacher Report last year.
The summer work is crucial to all teams in the NFL and it’s no wonder the league’s athletes are among the fittest people out there. You don’t have to be in the NFL or participate in a training camp to attain their levels of fitness. Of course, you probably won’t have the advantage of weeks of pre-training camp workouts but there are ways to get there, especially if you have access to a gym.
Below are a few tips that should get you well on your way.
Keep it simple
Lots of former University of Miami Hurricanes head back to the college during the offseason to train under strength and conditioning coach Andrew Swasey every year. NFL players have been going back to Swasey for years, training alongside University stars. The reason? The coach sticks to the basics.
According to a report from Men’s Fitness from several years ago, Swasey isn’t very fond of most of the equipment you’d find at NFL facilities. The likes of Bosu balls and foam rollers aren’t very high on his list and he was cited as saying that one doesn’t need all that of a complicated routine to get in the best shape. “The old stuff works and always will,” he was quoted as saying.
This is pretty good advice, because it’s true. You really don’t need a high-tech routine to get yourself into optimal shape.
The coach recommends workouts like the bench press, Romanian deadlifts, and the old, trusty ladder drills. It goes to show that you don’t need that much equipment to get to NFL-type fitness. There’s a lot that you could do without even leaving the house; push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping rope are all very beneficial exercises one could engage in.
Focus On The Core
Getting one’s core in shape is more important than you probably think. The core is really the base of one’s strength and is crucial to speed and agility. Former Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware will attest.
“Everything I do starts with the core,” he says. “The majority of the moves I do on the field, I’m going to have an offensive lineman grabbing and tugging on me, so I have to use my core to make an explosive movement.”
Ware talked up cable-resisted physio ball crunches, which are great for developing a solid core. To do this exercise, rest your upper back on the ball holding the crunch straps right above your chest. Crunch upward into a sitting position on the ball. The added resistance makes the crunches a whole lot harder, but that’s the point.
Hit The Beach
Not just so you get to take a dip in the ocean but you can always do so after your workout. Training in the sand is pretty tough as it absorbs all force. Your muscles would have to work a lot harder than they do when you’re on harder surfaces. Sand workouts can also help prevent injury as your feet and ankles have no choice but to work together with your knees as you’d have no shoes.
“We don’t have hills, so we use the sandpit for resistance,” Swasey also told Men’s Health. “The speed of the game is multidirectional. You need quick feet and change-of-direction ability, and the sand helps with that.”
Include Squats In Your Routine
Squats are probably the most common lower body exercises today and with good reason. Executing them properly will not only strengthen your legs and glutes but improve your balance and stability. There are different ways of squatting, but you don’t have to stray too far from regular weighted squats to get the best out of them.