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Offensive Line Conditioning Exercises

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Even the big guys need to have some level of conditioning. When the fourth quarter comes, we want our offensive line to be able to perform just as well if not better than they did in the first quarter. If we are down by points and need to lay out a final drive, we do not need a man dragging his butt to the line and then ask them to perform adequately during the play. No, we want them to be able to walk off the field without feeling like they went through a war every time they play.

This level of conditioning is going to take serious hard work and the use of some interesting tools. It will require grit as well. This may be the most difficult aspect of an offensive line training, but it may be the most important. We do not want merely strong boys upfront we want them to be athletes. They much are fast, quick, and ready to handle any amount of work look asked of them.

This article will lay out some forms of conditioning that seem as if they were built with the offensive line conditioning in mind.

Farmers Walks

You do this every week. Or at least  I m assuming you do. You pick up groceries and bring them home or at least from the car. If you are anything like me, you do not make two trips. It does not matter how many bags there are. You are making it to the door and into the kitchen in one trip no matter what!

That is the farmers walk in a nutshell. Carrying a heavy load in each hand for a distance over and over again. That is where the grocery trip and farmers walk differ. It is some trips taken.

When you are training this movement, it is essential to establish a load as well as not to use any assistance such as straps. This movement is just as much about grip conditioning as it is about overall conditioning.  The same form must be taken when it comes to the pickup of the handles as it would be during a trap bar deadlift.

Once you have the load off the ground, you can then being the walk. If the load is heavy, you need to control the movement of the handles, so short fast steps are the best option. If you take too long of a stride, you are asking for the weight to throw you around.

The short steps are going to keep your base of support strong.  That being said if you are working on moving the weight fast it may be beneficial to open of the stride length just a little. Again this would depend on the load being used.

Metrics And Variations

Distances, speed, and some trips are going to be up to your coaches. That programming is board and will be extremely individual depending on your weaknesses as an athlete. Other variations of this movement include thickly handled farmers, suitcase carries (one handle), and even frame carries (trap bar).

Sled Work

The sled has long been used in the training of athletes including the offensive line. There are a few variations of sled work that can be utilized greatly by O-linemen.

Forward

Moving the sled with the athletes moving forward seems basic however there are a couple of variations that the athlete can due to change up the difficulty as well as the effect.

Sprinting with the sled. Simply have the athlete move a load that is relatively light but enough to add resistance. This should be only enough to skew the athlete’s explosiveness a little bit.  About 75% of body weight is typically a good number. Again the metrics to be followed will be up to the coach.

Pulling a heavy sled is another variation. This will tax the athlete to an extreme degree. Moving a load over a distance that is predetermined but with a load that is extremely heavy. This will require the athlete to stay low moving the legs nonstop. Once momentum has been made if they athlete stop the weight will be that much harder to get to move again.

Heel to Toe pulls a load of about body weight to be moved in a deliberate heel to toe movement. This is to condition the posterior chain specifically. Pulling the heel down activates both the glute and hamstring intensely.

Backward

Dragging a sled is not anything new either. It has been done by service members in all branches of public service as well as military. It does not, however, diminish its effectiveness for an offensive line. Moving a weight backward is going to conditioning the anterior aspect of the legs.

You can complete this with or without a handle. When you are using a handle however you lose the leverage, a harness gives you, and it then requires the upper back, and grip to help assist in dragging the sled. This would be a slightly lower weight that would be moved again over a distance that is prescribed by your coach.  I always recommend the use of a handle simply because it does require a holistic approach to the movement.

However, using a harness to do the movement is just as viable. It would be great for overloading the movement because you can focus purely on the used of the legs without having to worry about the grip failing prematurely.

Battle Ropes

This tool is new to the scene of training. It took the innovative ideas of a strongman to see that a thick rope can be used to increase conditioning in the upper body and that man was John Brookfield. He decided to give a shot of using old manilla rope and started performing waves with it and discovered that it is hard work.

It has blown up on the scene of functional fitness, and an offensive line can most definitely reap the benefits of such training. This article would be 100 pages long if I listed every single variation of battle rope training. So I will stick to some of the reasons why ti works.

1.5″ rope that is 50ft in length weights about 35-40lbs depending on the material the rope is made from. This weight is spread out over that 50ft (25ft per hand). Moving your arms either alternatively, at the same time in all directions. Also getting sport specific movements out os the rope.

The main goal is to get the wave you make all the way to where the rope ends. This sounds simple, and it is, but it is not as easy as it sounds.  There is a laundry list of movements that can be done with battle ropes and like is said earlier it would take too long. However, the quick hand movements, the increased upper body conditioning, and the non-impact of the movement make it perfect for the offensive line.

Kettlebells

Kettlebell training has been a long time training tool for those in the east, particularly Russia. They have utilized the tool to increase both strength and endurance. As I have stated in previous articles, the kettlebell swing is an excellent exercise for strength improvements.

It can also be used for conditioning as well. Simply increase the number of reps, or how long you are doing it for and there you go. However, the swing is not the only movement you can do with the kettlebell.

The Kettlebell snatch is by far the most effective movement at increasing your conditioning. It requires the entire body to be in sync. In later articles, I will highlight this movement. If I could break it down simply, it is the movement that requires you to take the weight off the ground to overhead.

Sounds Simple and it is when it is broken down, but it is most definitely not easy. Remember Simple does not equal easy. In fact, if it is simple chances are it is going to require you to work just that little bit harder.

The kettlebell can be used as a load to carry, either in the rack position or even as farmers handles. Kettlebell carries are incredibly useful at increasing conditioning.

Cleans, presses, jerks, and the list goes on and on. Just like the battle ropes, this tool has many movements that can be done with it. The application used the tool, however, will always be up to the coach.

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