American Football International

How strength training has changed in a few generations

Bell bottoms, disco and eight-tracks. The 1970s were an interesting time not only for America but in athletic training as well.

There’s no doubt players are bigger and stronger today than they were 40 years ago – just look at this chart of NFL draftee player weights by position via Pro Football Reference. The athletes are not only stronger today but strategically stronger than they were back then.

As football players looked to get bigger in the 1970s, strength training programs borrowed the strategies used in body building, Olympic lifting and track and field. Initially, the idea was to get big and strong with less of a focus on flexibility and what a player actually does during a game.

Link to original article in USA Football.

Since then, trainers started focusing on movements and skills specific to the sport. In football, where you’re not always standing with two feet on the floor, the way you train had to change. Football strength training has gotten more integrated – pulling elements from physical therapy, sports psychology and multiple performance areas.

At St.Vincent Sports Performance, every warm-up is focused on four skills – mobility, stability, flexibility and pliability. Football isn’t a linear sport, so players don’t just need to be strong in a straight line but be able to move that power across different planes and angles. Training should mimic the game as much as possible so it’s important to train muscles in the way they’ll be used on the field.

Here’s five ways our approach to training has changed:

During the last four decades, training has changed for the better, and we can’t wait to see how it continues to improve over the next forty years.

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