T Nation

Football Specific Lifting Program and Diet


Hey guys! I've been lurking on the site for a while and finally decided to sign up and hopefully get some valuable advice and some questions answered.

So I've been working out and lifting for around 6/7 years now. It wasn't until recently that I started to make my own workouts. I was usually given a workout/lifting manual and followed it. Recently I've been finding lifts online and putting my own stuff together. However I think I'm not lifting for my goals. I'm lifting more as a bodybuilder/power lifter. While I'm having fun with it I want to get a more specified lifting and diet program for me as an athlete.

I understand the basic concepts of diet for bodybuilders where there is bulking (calorie surplus) and cutting (calorie deficit). However I'm curious if this is the best way to go about as an athlete. I recently was sick and lost some weight otherwise I was happy with my weight (220-225 lb). So I don't really need to bulk unless you guys see it necessary. But I also don't want to lose any weight. Thoughts/suggestions on a diet for a football athlete?

As for lifting/workout program. I really have no idea how to structure a new plan. I usually go to the gym for 2 or 3 hours, take my time, hit the body part I'm working for the day and get out. I feel like I need to pick more explosive and full body lifts/movements to benefit me on the field (Outside Linebacker). Is there a good program out there that would fit my needs or that I could modify a bet to help me become a better athlete?

I'd also like to see if anyone could help me put together a running/conditioning program for the summer. I'd imagine having sprints, footwork, and plyos but again I have no idea what specifics or splits would work best.

I want a new lifting and conditioning program that is most beneficial for an outside linebacker. I also want a suggestion for diet seeing as I don't want to bulk or cut.

Any and all input is welcome! Glad to join the community!
Thanks much,




Lots of options including the one posted above. Here are two recent routines from Christian Thibadeau:

If you want to focus on building mass/strength: https://www.T-Nation.com/training/complete-power-look-program

If you want to focus on conditioning/strength: https://www.T-Nation.com/training/athlete-lean-athlete-strong


Typically when we train our athletes we pick 3-4 indicator exercises and we build our program around those. Most our skilled guys do bench, pull ups, box jump/vertical and the box squat. Most football players never do heavy shoulder work. If you are like most football players you might have injured shoulders. All my college and pro athletes I've trained, I've never got one that did not have some sort of shoulder injury before they came to me. So lifting the press heavy is not the best for football players, imo.

Back to the basic indicator lifts.

You can pick any exercises really but we pick these four for a reason. You need to increase all 4 of these exercises and if you do, then your abilities will better translate to the field. The Bench and box squat (this could be normal squat or deadlift too) develop your absolute strength very well, an athlete needs to be explosive so we pick some type of jump that translates to his or her skill set (if you are an athletic lb then the vertical, more of a thumper then broad jump) and the max rep chin up brings in the real world or relative body strength well.

If one or two of our indicator exercises go up then we know that we may become weaker in one area which would be build less optimal results. Say our strength goes up but our jump goes down then we are not developing our explosiveness very well and we need to reprogram so we don?t develop one to quickly. If just our strength goes up and not our jump then we set the risk of becoming slower, less athletic, even though we will be stronger we won't be able to run which in football is a wee bit important. I will say with proper training and progression this almost never happens. When a jump goes up it usually has some carry over to the squat and vice versa.

If these four indicator keeps improving then you got a solid program. you need to pick out your indicators carefully though. Make sure they fit together and dont do too many exercises or your program will be too hard to progress.

Now for a workout. I like some of the stuff in rampant badgers post. With some small tweaks you can adjust to fit your exercises.

The basic plan for the main lifts is:

Week 1 - 5x5 ? 70-73%
Week 2 - 4x5 ? 73-76%
Week 3 - 3x5 ? 76-79%
Week 4 - Rep Test (we're still debating on what number to use)
Week 5 - 5x3 ? 82-85%
Week 6 - 4x3 ? 85-88%
Week 7 - 5x2 ? 88-91%
Week 8 - 4x2 ? 91-94%

Bench Day
Bench - Follow plan
Bench pattern 3-5x10
Row supersetted 3-5x10
Row or traps 3-5x10
Biceps and Tricep Superset

Jump Day
Box Jumps -15-20 jumps performed explosivly and for height not to see how fast you can go
quad dominant 3-5x10 (single leg with added rom)
hamstring doming 3-5x10
ab 3-5x10

Squat Dat
Squat - Follow Plan
Quad Dominant (prefer single leg with added rom movemnt)
Hamstring Dominant 3-5x10
Weighted Abs 3-5x10

Pull Up for Reps
1) Pull Ups - 3-5 x max reps
2) Pull Movement 3-5x10
3) Pull-ups (Vertical Pull) 5x10 or 50 reps
4) Upper Back 3x15-20
5) Triceps
6) Biceps

Monday - Bench Day
Thursday - Sprint Work
Wednesday - Off
Thursday - Squat Day
Friday - Chin Up Day
Saturday - Conditioning or Strongman Day

This is not the exact program we use but its actually fairly close

You said you 2-3 hours that should be 1 1/2 hour max. get in, do the work hard and get out. You can add conditioning to your squat workout (prowler pushes) and sprint work on your day off.


You can always add more shoulder work as you go. Keep it more in the bodybuilding capacity (Lateral Raises 3-5 x 10 reps) though or do a shoulder shocker at the end of either upper body workouts.

You can add bodyweight, barbell complexes and dumbbell complexes at the end of all workouts if you are not going to do conditioning and sprint workout. If you are getting closer to your season which you are, sprint and conditioning work should be done.

This is merely a template, if you want to do shoulder press then do shoulder press. Some people might think i am in idiot for saying don't do it heavy but i have my reasons. I actually think its a much better exercise than bench press but reasons like
a) most football players have shoulder problems so we don't overhead press heavy ever
b) they don't know how to overhead press correctly (most pro athletes are always more strong and powerful than actually technically proficient in an exercise and we get better results from no overhead heavy work template than any other template we have used)
c) like it or not the bench matters in football.



Thank you all three for the ideas and input!

I looked at all three programs that were posted. I loved your post zapata1. Thank you! It was why do the things I should do and that's what I was looking for.

As for specifics and tailoring it to my own program. Our program right now uses Bench, Squat, and Hang Clean for testing. While I like those I've been doing them for well over a year and a half. Changing things up maybe beneficial. You recommended bench, pull ups, box jump, box squat. These all sound great but will I ever be able to deadlift, regular squat, back/lats, etc. I'm used to trying to hit every body part once a week and so this maybe fine and this is why i'm here asking for help.

As for the time limit. I'm in there so long because I love to be in the weightroom working out. I never feel like i'm doing enough so I do more. This is probably a mistake on my part but if I have extra time what should I use it for related to training? Footwork? Technique? I guess i'm saying i'm willing to devote more than an hour and a half and if I can only lift for an hour and a half what can i do for another hour?

For sprints and conditioning I do have a program I was given however I'm not sure if it's the greatest. I do have a Linebacker Skilled Pattern Running i'd like to incorporate once a week. As for anything else I was hoping to find a program online similar to the lifting programs.

Also for the example program you posted zapata1, I have a few questions regarding the lifts. I'm not sure what bench pattern is and is that supersetted with any type of row? As for the jump day and squat, what does it mean by quad dominant and hamstring dominant? What kind of pulls ups are they, wide grip, narrow? Pronated or supinated? Then choose any type of pull movement and then pull ups (vertical pull)? Not quite sure what the difference is from normal pull ups. Also what would be ideal rest times?

What should i be thinking of for diet? Surplus of calories? Deficit? I found the Texans program online and it talks some on there about diet (60% carb, max 25% fat, rest protein). But that's about it.

The workouts seem so short and don't seem like I will be that tired or fatigued after them but it could be from my slow pace now that I think this. I think i'm going to try and make a excel sheet once I get a few more questions answered and run it by here to see what you guys think.

Thanks again! I appreciate the help!


Deadlift can be added to lower body max effort (squat day). Do them right after squat and do a couple of work sets of 3-5 reps.

Regular Squat isnâ??t really necessary when doing a proper depth box squat. There is a huge turnover in weights with the box squat and its much safer than traditional squats. This is not an opinion that might be too popular with some people.

As for back and lats. You can add more rows and shrugs to both upper body days. Try to go vertical pull(lats) with the chin up days and rows and shrugs on bench day. Again with the 3-5x10. Presses like a powerlifter and back like a bodybuilder.

My guys our given a "mirror day" if they so choose. They come in and hit arms, lats, upper chest. All the muscles they want to look good. Even athletes train for look. This is usually done on saturday and they choose whatever they want to hit and do there own thing. So if you don't like something or feel something lagging come in and do it. Keep this quick and simple.

If you want to get an extra hour in the gym. Yes do agility drills, stretching, practice on the field. You donâ??t get fast in the weight room you have to actually play the sport!

I canâ??t tell you a certain sprint work without seeing certain weaknesses. The workout given is probably generic but its probably all right. Most of my sprint work is technique based, I am a firm believer that if you want to be fast in your sport you have to play your sport more often, after fixing some technical issues,

Bench patter is just any bench you want. Could be close grip bench, incline, decline. Could even be 225 for max reps for 2 sets or 6/6/6 bench press.

And is that supersetted with any type of row?
I superset it with a non fatigue upper back or rear delt exercise. Some examples are Yâ??s,Tâ??s, Wâ??s Holds for 10-15 seconds with something like 5 to 10 lbs or band pull aparts. We always do non fatigue superset with nearly every exercise we do.

Examples of quad dominant moves would be step ups, lunges, split squat, front squat. Something hitting the quads.

Hamstring dominant is just a posterior chain exercises. We have had great results from static holds on our hamstrings.

As for the pull ups/chin up day. I like chin ups but any pull up variation is excellent, whatever you got there. Rest times would be something like 30-60 seconds on these.

Most athletes train so much they always eat surplus. I would never recommend a deficit.

Use the time for recovery, agility, sprint work, conditioning, school work, whatever. The workout should be damn hard if you choose the right weights and rest periods.

You can always add stuff to the workout as you see fit. I can't tell you what to do. Just don't go crazy with the modifications.


Here is what I put together based off what I've learned so far. Did I add too much in or being too ambitious in areas? Any tweaks or things I should change?

If anyone else has any recommendations or ideas let me know! Especially with a sprint/speed progression/workout.

Making a spreadsheet of the lift got me real excited to try something new and see what progress I make.

Can't thank you enough!


Not saying you shouldn't follow the advice given above, but if you google "college football workout" it will give you the training program from Nebraska in PDF. Who is more renowned in college football than Nebraska for their lifting program?


I am an Ohio State fan so I would say do not do the Nebraska Program just because I hate them.


Some great info in this thread.

I would also recommend some of deFrancos stuff available on the net. His podcasts are pretty good as well.



There is no one better than Defranco when it comes to athlete performance


Hey guys! On vacation right now but saw your responses. I looked into Defranco's stuff and it looked interesting but I'm not sure what exactly to incorporate into what I already have.

Does my program (posted above) look like a good start? Take some out? Add more?

Thanks for all the input!


The template is good. Its almost the same workouts that defranco writes about. West side for skinny bastards will follow the template more closely to my preference. I used the percentages and base template as a resource since it lays out the progression for months.

All this template is
Upper Body Max Effort
Lower Body Dynamic
Upper Body Dynamic/Repitition
Lower Body Max Effort


Yep looks good. As a small tweek do a different rep scheme on the sat quad and hamstring work like 3x20, 4x15 etc


Few more questions i've come across. Still unsure what exactly the difference between a pull up and pull up (vertical pull) is. I like doing wide grip pistol pull ups if those would work in that place.

As for diet I want a surplus of calories correct? This is what I have come up with from some previous equations and things I've found online.

BMR = 370 + (21.6 x LBM)Where LBM = [total weight (kg) x (100 - bodyfat %)]/100
BMR = 370 + (21.6 x LBM) LBM = 95 * 85 / 100 = 80.75
BMR = 2114.2
BMR w/ Activity Factor = 2114.2 x 1.7 = 3594.14
Add weight: 10% of TEE
Total TEE: 3,953 calories

Protein: 210 g (1g per pound)
Carbs: 630 g (3g per pound)
Fat: TEE (3953) - ((210 * 4) + (630*4)) / 9 = 66 g (The rest)

So my total BMR is 3594 but I want a surplus of calories so i add in 10% to get 3,953 calories per day. Then 1g of protein per lb of body weight and 3g of carbs per lb of body weight. Fats fill the rest of the calories?

Is this an alright way to go about things? As for what foods are "clean" and what foods are "dirty" is there a list or post that could help me start to structure a weekly diet so i can go grocery shopping this weekend?

Appreciate the help guys! Thank you very much!


Diet wise what works for me is basically a lot of milk, grilled chicken, and veggies. I don't count calories and I don't keep it super strict but it works perfectly fine for me. I just eat till I'm full and I plan my workouts so I have a full meal immediately afterwards. Obviously if you really want to count calories you can, but who wants to do that? You don't need a complicated diet to be a beast on the field, just be sure you eat a lot oh healthy foods. Also stay away from junk food and pop and alcohol but you already know that. Oh, and as a snack I prefer peanut butter. I'm hardly seen without a jar of it.

Training wise pretty much what everyone has said is spot on. Imo, your template has way too many sets in it. I think I counted 35 for your bench day. I get that you don't mind spending a lot of time in the gym because I'm the same way, but if you keep the intensity high it might be too much. We tend to stick around 20-25 sets.


I just thought I'd comment seeing as I also play football in case you were wondering what other players do. And I'm curious are you high school level or college? I play D3 so I was wondering.