Explosive Workouts for Football Players

Scouts absolutely loveplayers that are explosive.

At 239 pounds, and standing 6’5″, Lions’ wide receiver Calvin Johnson ran a 4.35 40 at the 2007 NFL Combine. (ICON)

Explosive players accelerate faster, have better chances at winning collision battles on the field, and tend to be just flat-out better athletes on the field than their lesser counterparts.

Today we’re going to talk about explosive workouts for football.

Related: How to Get a Faster 40 Time – Part One

Well not exactly, I’m not going to be giving you a specific workout to follow (that should come from a more qualified source than me).

…but I will be giving you some drills that you might want to make sure are incorporated into your regimen.

I’ll also be explaining why they’ll help you become more explosive on the football field.

OK, so let’s jump right into it (pun intended) and talk about drills you can do that help you become more explosive.

 

No Weights? No Way?!?

You’ll notice that none of these drills include using weights.

That’s because when you’re strength training, you’re not able to move at the speeds necessary to develop power.

Power is all about the being able to produce force within short periods of time.

I’m not going to get super in-depth on these, so feel free to do your own research on the different variations and stuff elsewhere, like on YouTube or something.

Related: The Truth about In Season Football Training

 

Training for Explosion

So let’s get into what you can do to get more explosive.

 

Box Jumps

 

Box jumps help you increase the rate that your muscles can produce force, in other words; they help you develop more

Box jumps are great for developing explosion in football players.

power.

They train your body to produce a lot of force from a still position.

They do this by forcing you to overcome the weight and inertia of your body.

Box jumps also help you improve your performance in the broad jump and vertical jump tests, which are both performed from still positions.

Related: 6 Ways to Improve Standing Broad Jump Distance – Part One

 

Finding the Right Box

When it comes to figuring out the ideal height for your box, you want one that challenges you, but you don’t want it to be too high.

Yeah I know that’s not very descriptive, but it’s the truth.

It all depends on you and your abilities.  If you need more help on how to find the right sized box for you, you might wanna do some more research on line or something.

 

Eliminate Stretch Shortening (ESS) Box Jumps

As the name eludes to, this is a variation of the box squat.

The difference, is that this version eliminates stretch shortening.

Stretch shortening is the stretching and shortening of a muscle.  It works like a rubber band or spring and helps you produce power.

Regular box jumps take advantage of the stretch shortening, but this variation doesn’t.

 

Why ESS Box Jumps are Effective

When you’re on the field, you won’t always have the time to coil-up like you do in a normal box jump.

The ESS variation helps you develop the ability to express power in situations like this where you can’t leverage stretch shortening.

 

Broad Jumps

The more explosive you are, the better your chances are that you’ll win more of your collisions on the gridiron.

Broad jumps help you develop hip power and reactive strength.

They also train your body to minimize the amount of time you have to be in contact time with the ground when you jump.

That’s important, because if you need to get in the air in a game, you want to get up there as fast as you can.

The faster you can get up there, the better your chances are that you’ll make that play.

Related: 6 Ways to Improve Standing Broad Jump Distance

 

What is Reactive Strength?


Reactive strength is all about, well, helping you react faster. Just about everything you do on the fooball field involves reactive strength, if you really think about it.

Whether you’re an offensive or defensive player you’re constantly responding and reacting to what your opposition is doing or showing you.

 

Depth Jumps

These are good for developing reactive strength too.

These are done by jumping up onto a box immediately after dropping down to the ground from a box, chair, or some other platform.

When you’re doing this drill, now you need to jump back up as fast as possible, without bending your knees too much.

The less knee flexion, the better.

 

Heels or No?

No, I’m not talking about shoes when I say heels.

I’ve read that there’s some debate out there regarding whether or not you should let your heels hit the ground before you explode back up in this drill.

Some that argue that you want to avoid letting your heels touch, because they say that it increases the amount of time you’re in contact with the ground.

On the other hand, some say that letting your heels touch decreases the amount of shock you put on your joints, and that it really doesn’t cause that much lag in your contact time with the ground.

The verdict?  I don’t know.

I recommend that you find what works for you, unless your strength trainer demands you go one way or the other.

 

Warning

Depth jumps really tax your central nervous system, so it’s vital that you get some good rest in-between sets.

 

Hurdle Jumps

As you know, explosion is directly related to our speed.

Hurdle jumps train our hip flexors.

The strength of your hip flexors play a major role in your sprinting speed.

 

Why You Want Strong Hip Flexors

You wanna have strong hip flexors because they help your legs get in that 70-90 degree angle that is optimal for maximizing sprint speed.

That’s why when your trainer takes you through form running, a lot of the drills involve getting your knees up to a 90 degree angle.

The 90 degree angle increases the amount of force you can put into the ground when your legs hit the ground.  The more force you can put into the ground, the better.

The 90 degree angle also puts you in position to have a longer stride length, allowing you to cover more ground with each stride.

The hip flexor controls the forward swing of the leg every time you stride.

So the more force you’re able to swing forward, the faster it’s going to return back to it’s original spot, and be ready for the next stride.

I don’t know if it’s true, but in one of the articles I recently read, they claimed that after training someone with hip flexor-specific exercises, they improved their 40 time by .3!

Damn, I swear I wish I knew all of this stuff back when I was playing…

 

Plyometric Circuits

Plyometric circuits are where you go from station-to-station doing plyometric drills.

These help you maintain power and explosion over a period of time.

They help you with your speed endurance and cardio stamina too.

Related: Speed Endurance Training in Football – What Every Player Should Know

 

Have you, or your team been doing any of these drills?  If so, how have they helped you or your team?  Leave a comment.

Follow me on Twitter!  @alvingrier

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Web references:

10 Exercises for Explosive Athletes! (via Bodybuilding.com)
Jump Training for Explosive Power (via dieselcrew.com)
Explosive Box Jumps Gives You More Speed And Power (via sportsfitnesshut.blogspot.ca)
Stretch shortening cycle (via Wikipedia.org)
Top 5 Explosive Lower Body Exercises (via oneresult.com)
Exercises to Increase Speed (via overtimeathletes.com)
What is Reactive Strength and Why Should I Train It? (via voices.yahoo.com)
EXPLOSIVE & REACTIVE STRENGTH TRAINING (via livestrong.com)
Depth Jump – A Closer Look (via verticaljumping.com)
Circuit Training with Plyometrics (via livestrong.com) 

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