Six ‘Football-Worthy’ Exercises for the Rest of Us

Getting in shape isn't complicated when you follow these smart, injury-preventing instructions from a pro

There’s fit. And then there’s football fit.

Professional football players require a very specific blend of strength, speed, and durability, explains Tony Horton, creator of Beachbody’s P90X series, who has trained top NFL-ers including Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy.

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And you only achieve that with targeted training.

Here, Horton shares six exercises designed to help you get you in the game. Integrate them into your existing routine or perform them back-to-back for total-body benefits.

1.) Sun salutation to Warrior 1 flow. Yoga keeps the body’s joints mobile and flexible to help prevent injuries when you’re taking hits on the field or just trying to ward off day-to-day aches and pains.

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Instructions: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, your shoulders down and back, with your palms together in front of your chest. Take a deep inhale as you move your arms in two big circles away from your body until your palms meet back together overhead. Angle your head up to face your hands. Exhale and then dive your torso and arms forward into a forward bend toward the floor. Inhale as you lift your torso just slightly so that your back is parallel with the floor.

Here’s how to get in the groove for lifelong health, wellness and fitness (credit for all inline photos: Tony Horton).

Exhale and step or jump back into plank pose with your hands directly below your shoulders, your feet hip-width apart, and your body forming a straight line from head to heels.

Take a few slow breaths. Bend your arms to lower your chest and exhale into chaturanga as if you are lowering into a push-up. Immediately inhale, extend your arms into the floor, and lift up your chest into upward-facing dog. Take a few slow breaths. Tuck your toes onto the floor and push your hips up and exhale into down-dog so that your body forms an upside-down V.

Take a few breaths here. Inhale and lift one leg up into the air behind you, pause, then swing it forward so that your foot plants between your hands.

As you exhale, lift your torso and reach your arms overhead into Warrior 1. Take a few slow breaths. Lower your hands to the floor on an inhale, then place your foot back behind you to return to plank pose on an exhale. Repeat the leg lift into Warrior 1 with the opposite leg and then return to standing.

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2.) Front-to-side squat jumps. These explosive plyometric moves build lower-body strength and power to keep you fast on your feet.

Instructions: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and lower into a quarter squat. Immediately drive through your heels to jump up and forward as high as possible. As you land with your knees and hips bent, spring back up and to one side. Repeat, jumping forward, to one side, and then to the opposite side.

3.) Speed punches. Football players and everyday athletes alike need to train not just their legs, but also their upper bodies, for fast, powerful movements. Boxing is a great way to do just that.

Instructions: Wearing boxing gloves, take a split, bent-knee stance in front of a punching bag and set a timer for 30 seconds. Keeping your core braced (like you’re about to get punched in the gut), alternate right and left punches as quickly as possible.

Focus on not just making contact with the bag, but punching through it with each hit. At the end of 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds. Repeat for three to five rounds.

4.) Pull-up to push-up supersets. Together, these two exercises strengthen the entire upper body.

Instructions: Grab a pull-up bar with your hands shoulder-width apart, palms facing away from your body. Hang with your arms fully extended, but not locked out, and entire body braced. From here, pull your shoulder blades back and together and draw your elbows down your sides to lift your body up toward the bar. (go to page 2 to continue reading) [lz_pagination]

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