9 Exercises to Perform Better on the Field


AFI - Pullups


Another “king” exercise, Pull-Ups not only work your lats and back muscles, they also develop your shoulders, core and grip strength—all helpful attributes for a great football player.

How to

  • Hang from a pull-up bar with your palms facing away from you, hands positioned slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull your chest up to the bar, then lower yourself to the starting position.
  • Repeat.

Sets/Reps: 3-4xMax.

Push-Up/Row Combo

AFI - Pushup-row - 2pic


This is a great push/pull combination that works the chest, back, shoulders, abs and hips all in one! Working the core while performing pushing and pulling makes this a great combo to develop functional strength for hand-to-hand combat. And having a solid core makes for better sprinting!

How to

  • Start in push-up position with your hands gripping dumbbells under each shoulder and your feet approximately hip-width apart.
  • Perform a Push-Up; when you return to the starting position, row the dumbbell with your right arm, then row on your left side. That’s one rep.
  • Keep a solid plank position and do not let your butt or hips sway as you move.
  • Repeat for specified reps.

Sets/Reps: 3-4×4-6

DB Push Press

AFI - DB Push-press


It’s a great shoulder developer. In contrast to a Seated Press, this move engages the whole body with rapid hip and knee extension in an explosive fashion, just like you would on the field.

How to

  • Hold a pair of dumbbells at shoulder height just outside your shoulders.
  • Bend your hips and knees to lower into a quarter-squat position, then forcefully extend your hips, knees and ankles to propel the dumbbells up.
  • Finish the movement by extending your arms overhead, keeping your torso tight and head position neutral.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells back to start position and repeat for specified reps.

Sets/Reps: 3-4×6-8

Rolling Shrugs

AFI - Standing DB shrug - 2Why?

They increase scapular stability, engages a number of neck muscles, and develops the traps—all good stuff to help protect your head!

How to

  • Hold dumbbells at your sides with your arms straight.
  • Shrug your shoulders up, rolling them back and forward.

Sets/Reps: 2-3×6-8

Standing Cable Chops

AFI - Standing cable chops


A great standing combat exercise that develops explosive pushing strength, balance, and hip stability. The move also engages the core.

How to

  • Assume a wide stance with a cable machine to your right.
  • Hold the rope attachment in front of your chest with your arms extended.
  • Rotate your upper body to the right as far as your range of motion allows.
  • Keep your arms directly in front of your chest—do not move your lower body.
  • Reverse the movement and rotate your upper body toward the left as far as you can, pulling the rope attachment as you move.
  • Keep your arms directly in front of your chest and do not move your lower body.
  • Continue rotating your torso in each direction for specified reps.

Sets/Reps: 3-4×6-8 reps.

What? No Bench Press? Although it remains in the Combine, the Bench Press is rated 24th among standing combat exercises, according to Dr. Matt Rhea, whose research entails program development and transfer exercises for football athletes. You’re better off performing a pressing motion in a standing position. Or if you must lie down, try the Dumbbell Press on a Swiss Ball. It will increase your core and shoulder stability while addressing left-to-right imbalances. These types of exercises are tougher, so the weights you hit won’t look as impressive; but remember: the tougher exercises will make you a better athlete and allow you to shine on the field, where it matters.


[1] Baechle, T.R. & Earle, R.W..(2000). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Pages: 1 2 3

Tammy Kovaluk, MSc, CSCS, is the owner of RISE Sport Performance Training (Tucson, Arizona). Originally from Canada, she has over 15 years of experience working with athletes in a wide range of sports. She specializes in high school and collegiate