You don't need to be a professional athlete to train like one. These seven tips from former players and pro trainers will help to keep you in top shape.
1. Do Plyometrics
To train like an NFL pro, “you’ve got to do plyometrics,” says Rob Livingstone, a Massachusetts strength and conditioning coach who has trained many pro athletes.
Plyometrics involves doing lots of jumping and explosive moves. You're "training the body to become better conditioned," Livingstone says.
2. Increase Your Speed
Run 10-yard sprints, says Vince Gabriele, owner of Gabriele Fitness and Performance in New Jersey.
Gabriele, who has personally trained NFL players, says short sprints with full recoveries are a safe and effective way to improve speed.
Start out with six sprints, and let your body recover for a minute between each sprint. Keep changing your starting position -- standing with your feet wide, lying on your stomach, kneeling -- to improve your reactive ability and upper-body strength.
NFL pros also lift weights to increase their speed. By lifting your maximum weight in short bursts, you'll not only build muscle, you'll also improve your power.
3. Stretch the Right Way
You need flexibility, as well as strength. But don't do it the old-fashioned way.
Your high school gym teacher probably told you to hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. That's called a static stretch. But now, experts don't recommend doing static stretches before you're warmed up, for safety's sake.
Research shows that active stretches, such as lunges or squats, are better for improving range of motion. These quick movements that stretch muscles are also called dynamic stretches. Cincinnati Bengals safety Chris Crocker starts his workouts with a series of dynamic stretches.
Save the static stretches for after your workout, when your muscles are warmed up.
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.