Football Strength Program: Strength and Muscle Building Phase

American football is considered a full contact sport. Due to the physical nature of the game, it becomes more and more critical – as the athletes mature and grow larger and stronger – to implement a well structured strength and conditioning program that addresses both the neural (nervous system) and muscular qualities that are called upon during a football game.

Using a well accepted periodized approach to yearly conditioning, the football strength program can be divided into 3 major phases or training cycles.

1. Base Cycle- Strength and Hypertrophy

2. Strength Cycle- Strength and Power

3. Power Cycle- Power and Complex Training

In this article, we will be discussing the base cycle (strength and hypertrophy) and how best to approach it for maximal gains in functional strength and muscular size. Implementing a base cycle during the offseason strengthens bone and connective tissue of each athlete as well as allowing muscle growth to increase over the course of 2 to 3 months, depending on how much time is allotted per institution. Gaining functional lean tissue during the base phase is essential for the football player because the strength and size gained will be transferred to other motor behaviors such as accelerative speed, tackling power, and vertical power.


The increases in muscular size obtained from traditional bodybuilding methods are often observably similar to those increases seen in powerlifters. This is only from external observations, however. The chemical and structural makeup of the powerlifter’s muscle fibers are quite different from their bodybuilding counterparts. A bodybuilder concerns himself with the “pump” of the muscle being worked. The pump is achieved when the muscle has been repeatedly (10 to 15 reps) stimulated with a light to moderate weight.

This action pushes fluid into the working muscle, giving the bodybuilder a swollen look to his muscle belly. Furthermore, the bodybuilder will typically prefer to isolate each body part of a major joint. So, rather than using compound movements that coordinate multiple muscle/joint actions in an athletic manner, isolation movements will do just that…isolate the muscle being trained from the rest of the muscle groups. Finally, the typical bodybuilder is not too concerned with what training apparatus (equipment) he or she uses to evoke this pump in their muscles. For many bodybuilders, using machines are just as acceptable as using free weights (dumbbells, barbells, etc.). เซ็กซี่ บาคาร่า ออนไลน์

A powerlifter’s emphasis is on obtaining maximal strength in compound movements. Competitive powerlifting movements such as the squat, bench press, and dead lift are performed with the classic barbell. A powerlifter is not necessarily concerned with how his or her body looks, per se, but cares more about how strong they can become – finding the maximal weight that they can lift for one single repetition.

The lifter will experience an increase in muscle size when training with heavy loads, but the hypertrophy gained from this method of training is caused by actual tissue changes and not simply fluid shifts that are typical when bodybuilding. Due to the specificity of the training, a powelifter will primarily train with free weights, thus challenging their stabilizing or core muscles to a greater degree than if they were to rely more heavily on machine-based equipment.

There is an old adage in physical culture that states: “With strength comes size.” Think for a moment, about the logic behind this statement. For a person to continue to get stronger, he must either get more out of his neuromuscular system through improved lifting technique or experience an increase in the overall size of his muscle fibers. Both factors lead to marked improvements in strength, and the latter, to muscular hypertrophy.

What Does This Mean To The Football Player?

The football player must use an intensity (weight) and rep-range that will elicit maximal gains in maximal strength, short-term repetitive strength, and changes in actual structural hypertrophy. To accomplish this, use compound fee weight exercises building up to approximately 80%-90% of one’s one repetition maximum (1RM) for the majority of the training cycle.

NOTE: To find your 1RM, you must test and determine (per exercise) what weight you can successfully lift for one single repetition – no more than one rep and no less. Once you have obtained this information, you use the percentage suggestions above to calculate your weekly training load.

Repetition range for mass and strength. From years of both scientific and anecdotal research on the topic of optimal rep range for building functional strength and hypertrophy, the following rep range is recommended. Use a rep range of 4-6 repetitions when striving for improved strength and lean mass acquisition. Less than 4 repetitions does not seem to provide enough time under tension, and more than 6 repetitions seems to be overkill and will not allow the athlete to train heavy enough to evoke true structural changes – mainly fluid shifts will take place.


Hopefully, now, you have a better understanding of how to incorporate a base cycle into your annual training for football. Remember, even when saturating one’s attention on such qualities as muscle mass and strength, the player must always remind himself of the fact that he is engaging in a football strength program – not a bodybuilding program, not an Olympic weightlifting program, or a powerlifting program. If the football player can remain focused on this fact, he will greatly improve his success on the grid iron.

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