KETTLEBELL TRAINING FOR FOOTBALL
by Steve Morris
I once wrote an article about how agility training sucks...I got more than a few pieces of hate mail; and for that I'm thankful. If we were all afraid to change the old-school thinking on football training, we'd all be doing calisthenics and wouldn't lift weights because it makes you "muscle-bound."
Well, here's another reason for some to hate me: most football speed training sucks too. More on that in a future article...for now, we'll talk about ways to increase football speed in the one place that matters most: the weight room!
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Big, compound movements like Squats, Box Squats and Deadlifts should always be the base of your football training program. However, there are several smaller movements and special tools that can help you increase your quickness when performing speed training for football.
Enter the Dragon
Most people never heard of Kettlebells before Dragon Door and Pavel re-introduced them to the world.
They've been used by fighters and athletes for about a century, but they lost popularity somewhere along the line.
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This is a shame because they are excellent tools for becoming faster and stronger, especially for football.
Before anyone bitches out and complains that I'm a member of a Kettlebell Kult (people who train only with Kettlebells), get over it. Kettlebells are to be used in addition to your normal training, not in place of it!
K-bells are excellent for speed because:
They can target the hamstrings and glutes in a way that a barbell can't
They compliment the big movements nicely by allowing you to train in athletic positions
They are excellent for dynamic speed
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Remember, football speed isn't just about running some damn 40-yd dash. You've got to be explosive (hence the name - Explosive Football Training).
Here are 3 excellent Kettlebell exercises that will increase your football speed:
1. Kettlebell Swings
This is the king of the football speed makers! It's a really common KB exercise yet I see people doing them wrong all the time. If all you did was add Kettlebell Swings to your football speed training, you'd be miles ahead of most of your competitors.
This is NOT a squat movement. While you can do a squat/swing for general conditioning and fat loss, this is not what I am talking about for speed development. You need to allow the bell to travel all the way back and then SNAP it forward. That snap is the key to the exercise...you are building reactive strength, the same you would need for sprinting, jumping, and coming out of your stance into a sprint. This is explosive football training, not training for fat loss!
This can be done after your heavy leg exercise or at the end of your training as a hamstring/glute finisher. It is not necessary to do high reps in the swing as some believe. Use a heavier KB and shoot for 3-4 sets of 4 - 6 reps.
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2. Kettlebell Overhead Lunge
This is an excellent single-leg football exercise that will hit the glutes, hams and hips hard. It also has the added bonus of working the abs/obliques very hard since they have to stabilize the bell overhead. Grab a kettlebell, press it overhead, then do a lunge. Get a nice, long stride and explode back up. When you lunge, don't be afraid to go deep. This is an excellent movement for football speed training because not only will it strengthen the muscles, but it will also dynamically stretch the hip flexors...tight hip flexors are often called "breaks," because they literally will push the brake pedal on your speed!
3. Kettlebell Overhead Throw
This is a great way to learn to transfer power. If your football training program doesn't address how to transfer power; it's worthless. Building up strength only to leave it in the weight room will only lead to frustration.
This is pretty simple - perform a Kettlebell Swing but release the bell at the top. You are trying to throw it as far as possible.
This is an excellent way to track explosiveness. Super coach Charles Poliquin once called the overhead toss the best indicator of athletic ability in young athletes.
Track this exercise by keeping measurements - measure every 3 - 4 weeks.
Keep it fairly light - a K-bell between 10 - 20lbs is plenty.
Add these movements to your training one at a time so that you can track progress and see which works best for you.
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