What are the Best Cardio Exercises for American Football Players?

Football is a game of tactics, speed, and strength. It’s a physical sport that requires quite a lot of attention to detail and strategy, which is what makes it so much fun to watch and indulge in. Unlike many sports, it’s not only focused on the skills of the athletes or their purely athletic abilities but instead looks to combine all of that with specific sets of tactics and analytics, a mix that has us all watching on Sundays. 

Having said that, even though physicality is only one part of football, it’s not an unimportant one – in fact, it’s the foundation on which players can build the rest of their game. In this article, we’re going to discuss cardio for football players – what are the best options, what kind of workouts should be done, and which ones are the most effective. 

So, if that sounds like something useful for you, then keep on reading. 

What are the Best Cardio Exercises for Football Players? 

As we’ve just said, football is a physical sport, but typically, people think of football players as strong and big and not so much as good at cardio. However, having endurance is the foundation for athletic performance, and the footballers who want to turn pro have to learn that lesson quickly. 

Typically, cardio can be divided into two groups: low-impact and high-impact. For football players, both kinds have their place and can be highly beneficial for improving both performance and recovery. Because of that, in the list below, you will see both kinds recommended with a short explanation of their exact benefit. 


Running is the basis of endurance – it’s the ultimate cardio exercise, the first one we learn to do as children, and likely the most effective one of all. Of course, not all runs are equal – you have slow, long runs, which are great for building endurance, and short, sprint-like workouts that help you build aerobic capacity and ensure you can perform at your best while working at max capacity. The great thing about running is that it can be done by everyone – on a track, out on the road, in the mountain, and even at home, if you’re willing to invest in a treadmill (possibly one of the cheaper models for home use). 

Additionally, it’s good to consider learning proper running techniques and getting yourself to do the right kind of workouts, something that the experts from Pace Passion can help you with. 

Jumping Rope 

Learning how to jump rope quickly is a great cardio exercise that helps you develop timing, agility, and a better jumping pattern. Sometimes, in the game of football, you’re required to jump at exactly the right time to catch the ball or to intercept a pass, and jumping rope is an exercise that can help you learn such patterns. Additionally, including jump rope in your workout regime will enable a football player to improve his vertical jump. 

Ladder Drills 

If you’ve trained in any kind of sports, you’ve likely done a ton of ladder drills. They’re a terrific way to train agility, coordination, footwork, and sprinting, and it’s also a way to include some extra cardio during your field sessions. There are a ton of different patterns you can do on the ladder, and all of them will challenge your body and endurance in various ways – it’s just a matter of choosing a few and doing them consistently. 


A training session on the bike is a terrific way to get some low-impact cardio in your training. Not only is that great for building endurance in the long run, but it’s also a must-do step for recovering better. Of course, you can choose to ride a bike on the street, but that’s honestly a bit risky, tricky, and slightly more challenging. That’s why most athletes opt for getting a bike ERG at home and just doing miles while watching TV or listening to music. 

Of course, much like running, you can take your bike session to the next level by altering speeds or making it an uphill ride, depending on your needs for that particular workout. And if you lack the space for a treadmill, it’s definitely a good option for an at-home cardio machine.

In Conclusion

Becoming a professional football player or simply getting better at the sport requires a lot of work and hours in the gym, on the field, and in the video room. And that means spending time lifting, learning movement patterns, tactics, and position-specific skills, and also gaining speed and endurance. Hopefully, this article has given you the information you need to start working on your cardio using various kinds of workouts – so that you’re never feeling bored and lacking motivation.

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