How to Exercise Like an NFL Pro
4. Build Muscle
You don't need to lift as much weight as a football player to build muscle. At the peak of his NFL career, Torrie Griffin, a former defensive lineman for the Tennessee Titans and a certified personal trainer, was bench-pressing about 485 pounds. A more realistic goal if you're not a pro is probably in the range of 150 to 175 pounds, Griffin says.
Go for one to three sets of six to 15 reps each. Don't overdo it.
"When you get through with a set, know that you've got maybe two to three reps left in you," says Barry Rubin, head strength and conditioning coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. If you train too hard, it can take a week or more for your body to recover, he says.
Rubin recommends gradually adding weight and reps each week for 3 weeks until you reach your limit. Then back off with lighter weights and lower reps during the fourth week to give your body a chance to recover.
Building lean muscle doesn't happen only in the gym. It also happens on your plate. "You can lift all the weights in the world, but if you're not putting the right fuel in your body, that muscle mass is not going to come," Gabriele says.
To build lean muscle, get most of your calories from lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and good carbs like brown rice and whole-grain bread.
5. Boost Endurance
You don't need to do as much sprinting, squatting, tackling, and throwing as an NFL player. But everyone can stand to improve their endurance, and one of the best ways to do it is with interval training.
Gabriele recommends pedaling hard on the bike for 30-second sprints, followed by a slower pace for a minute. Do three sprint sets to start, and then work your way up to more. If you don't like the bike, run sprints on the treadmill.
6. Get Lean
To burn fat, you need to do cardio.
Alternate aerobics with strength training moves that work several muscle groups at once, like squatting with barbells, Griffin says.
Rubin uses medicine-ball drills for conditioning, where players throw the ball against a wall for 200 reps or more. "It's great for core training and total body conditioning," he says.
7. Watch Your Form
A qualified trainer can give you a safe plan and show how to do each move right.
Gabriele sees a lot of mistakes in people working out at typical gyms. "I know many of them are not aware that their poor exercise technique will eventually lead to injury," he says.
Have your trainer watch you while you lift to make sure you're using the proper techniques.
Work within your limits. "A lot of people think that you have to push it to the limit every time,” Rubin says. "I disagree with that. That's how you end up getting hurt."