Swedish Strength Trainer Offers Offseason Football Workout Series

Editor’s Note: Johan Stål is a well known name in Swedish American football. He played his 18th season of football this past season for his hometown Örebro Black Knights and has also played for Swedish titleholders, the Carlstad Crusaders. He is also an anchor on the Swedish national team. Having set numerous records as a receiver and defensive back, he has turned his attention to improving the strength and conditioning of athletes, with his own unique focus on American football.

Out of his own gym – Atletic City Sportgym Stål has been working as the strength coach for the Black Knights since 2011, and he has a slightly different way of looking at strength training.

The Offseason – Part 1 – Planning

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This is the most important time of the year for a football player, this is the time to rebuild, get stronger, get bigger or what ever your goal is.

The type of goal you have should be decided between you and your strength coach. Because there are many different ways to train during the offseason. Here are some scenerios:

  1. You have a skinny wide receiver that need to gain 5-10kg and at the same time build more explosivness, because he already have quickness in his cuts. What should that program look like?
  2. A really big offensive lineman that is 2m tall and weigh 160kg, and thats pretty much all he is, big! Not very strong but he can still block well and move his feet. How should he train?
  3. One linebacker is really really strong. He can benchpress 190kg and squat 250kg. But he can’t clean, he is not very quick and has terrible feet. How would you train him?

One thing coaches have to remember is that a lot of times you can’t just hand out a standard program to all the players. Because we are so much NOT ALIKE and we have different needs in the gym.

There are some ”rules” when it comes to offseason if you would ask me, and remember this is my view of things! Almost all coaches have their own way of looking at offseason training. But here goes.

  • At the end of the regular season you have to have complete rest for at least 1-2 week, heal the body and use this time to go see someone about your injuries and get more info.
  • First part of the program is different, but if you have injuries you have to take care of that.
  • When you start training for real you should start with the Hypertrophy block, and with that I mean muscle mass. Some players think they can take just any program they find online from a bodybuilder because all we want is mass right? Wrong, we still want functional mass, football mass! It is not the same as how a bodybuilder trains. In this block, try to still do Olympic lifts and work on that technique and remember to always work that mobility and full range of motion in this block.
  • Next block is the Strength block. You train less than what you did in the hypertrophy block but you do more heavy sets and longer rest between each set. This block is done to add more strength to the new found muscle mass that you put on during the hypertrophy phase. For rookies its best to use basic exercises and slowly add more weight week by week to get them stronger. For the veterans in the gym you might need to put in more advanced exercises and depending on how much time they have you can add more sessions with fewer exercises per session.
  • The last block is the Power block. Here you want to create POWER/EXPLOSIVENESS with your new strength. The stronger you get, the more power your can create. You can approach this from 2 angles. Either you go really light weights 0-30% of 1RM and to 3-5 explosive reps then rest 2-8min depending on what exercises. Or you can do something I call ”contrast training”. One example is really heavy quarter squats and right after do a broad jump. So you go from a heavy exercises to a light explosive exercise right away.

Depending on the length of you offseason you might have time to do several cycles of these blocks. So here are 2 examples from the different scenarios on how I would do it:

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1. The skinny wideout needs more mass and explosiveness and we have 6 months (26 weeks) of offseason. He has no injuries so we are good to go right after the season ends and after he has rested 1-2 weeks.

  • Hypertrophy 10 weeks
  • Strength 6 weeks
  • Power 4 weeks
  • Strength 3 weeks
  • Power 3 weeks

2. The big lineman that has very low strength.

  • Hypertrophy 4 weeks
  • Strength 6 weeks
  • Power 4 weeks
  • Strength 6 weeks
  • Power 3 weeks
  • Strength/Power 3 weeks

This is one way to make a offseason schedule for the two players with different needs. This is how I would do it.

Next up we will examine which exercises they would have. Should a big lineman have the same exercises as a small quick wide receiver? Some coaches give the same program to everyone but is that the right way to go?

Johan Stål
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