Want to be better conditioned than everyone else? Start here.
Before the meat and potatoes of how to really train football players for game-ready condition, let’s start with two quotes:
1. “Pain and anguish is an amazing glue that bond people together.”
2. “No personal confrontation = no toughening”
In my last ever college football summer workout we did fourteen, that’s right, FOURTEEN, 300 yard sprints. The mental toughness built from finishing fourteen 300 yard sprints is unparalleled. Not to mention, the value that completing this grueling workout with my teammates built an unbreakable bond. When times get rocky in the 4th, the mental edge from finishing those workouts can literally win games.
Strictly for the mental toughness that is built, I believe this style of conditioning has a (small) place for total conditioning for football players. You can’t deny that this grueling conditioning can give you a mental edge over your opponent in the 4th quarter. With that being said, there’s a better way to develop mental toughness while actually improving on-field performance.
Laws of Specificity state that metabolic conditioning must be specific to the energy system used in the given athlete’s sport. Thus, training with the correct work-to-rest interval used in football is needed to develop well-conditioned football players. Football uses the alactic anaerobic system because the play only lasts up to 10 seconds. That’s why long sprints or strongman medleys don’t correlate well to football, as they’re lactic anaerobic conditioning tests that last anywhere from 15-60 seconds
Again, the average football play is 6-10 seconds of explosive all-out effort, and the average rest period between plays is about 30-40 seconds. That’s about a 1:5 work-to-rest ratio. This keeps up (depending on the player) for about 50 repeated bouts (plays) per game.
Having established relevant training-length parameters, here are a few tips to maximize your football conditioning work this offseason:
1. Know Your Position
Different positions have very different demands. It wouldn’t be very smart to train a wide receiver as you would an interior lineman. Make position-specific exercise and drill choices.
2. Use Quality Exercises
Jumping jacks can tire you, but there’s a better way to go about conditioning. Use drills that build speed and power in a fatigued state. Also, do exercises and add tools that are unconventional to make it more interesting: sleds, tires, and med-balls, can make it more fun.
3. Use a Work-to-Rest Interval that’s Game-Relevant
The average play is about 6 seconds, with some plays shorter and some longer. So vary your drills and times between 6, and all the way up to, 12 seconds.
Enter “H.A.M. Conditioning”
Throughout the summer, we use smaller doses of the conditioning drills and exercises to eventually work up to the full game simulation. The last three weeks of July, we performed “H.A.M.” (“Hard As A Mother******”) once a week to finish out the training week. (Credit is given to Eric Klein of University of Minnesota, Joe DeFranco, and Robert Dos Remedios for the influences in developing H.A.M. Conditioning.)
Week 1: 35 Plays
Week 2: 45 Plays
Week 3: 55 Plays
We used different drills and exercises depending on position and individual need. Here are the drills:
Week 1 (35 Play) Lineman Game Simulation:
Halftime – rest for 5 minutes
Repeat for 20 more plays.
And that’s how you go H.A.M. this offseason. This style of conditioning is truly the best of both worlds. It builds the same mental toughness long, brutal, conditioning develops while being more specific to the energy demands of football. Game simulation conditioning worked great for our football players by properly preparing them for the demands of the sport. Should you have any questions regarding “H.A.M. Conditioning,” or anything football conditioning related for that matter, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.