T Nation

O-Lineman Off-Season Lifting


Hey guys I just need a little help and feedback. I am a college offensive lineman I weigh around 325 pounds. I have for the last couple years focused on my strength training because I am an interior lineman and usually have to deal with bigger defensive lineman and linebackers.

Our coaches now want us down to around 275 pounds for next season. So that means I have til next August to cut around 50 pounds. This is a big task that I am fully dedicated to completing, for the team and myself. I will be strictly adhering to Precision Nutrition for the next 9 months, and working on my diet as much as possible.

I will also continue my strength training with explosive olympic movements like snatches and cleans, and of course my bread and butter squats. My strength training is not my major concern, I am looking for the best way to cut the pounds off while still putting on lean functional muscle.

I was thinking of doing work on the treadmill early in the mornings after a plyometric warm up with a speed ladder. This would mainly be during the winter months when I am confined indoors and will not have an accessible field to work out on.

I am worried that as a lineman the long low tempo workouts will not help me with my goals of explosive movements and if they won't what can I do that will help me shed the weight effectively and will not have a negative affect on my strength or explosiveness.

Any suggestions are welcome, I am stuck right now and I need any motivation or ideas I can get from anyone. This is a huge goal that I am 100% dedicated to achieving and do not want to waste any time doing something that will not help me achieve it.

So please comment back if you have trained with someone that has had to do something like this, or any of the experts in these forums have a solution. Thanks for the help guys.


I've been in a similar situation as yours before. I would say on non-training days keep your carbs pretty low. On training days I would consume carbs a couple hours before lifting and some immediately after training. I'm sure you'll find something that works for you. You probably also realize that you'll have to lower your carb intake one way or another.

Concerning your training. I would stick with what your doing now. For conditioning, I would include hiit once or twice a week. I am currently using tabata method focusing on jump rope. Skipping rope doesn't cause as much metabolic damage as say front squats. I have also been walking with a loaded pack lately. This works great. You burn a bunch of calories and it's not very stressful so you can do it multiple times per week. I don't know if you have spring ball or not?

In the early summer I would dedicate a month to focus soley on fat loss. I know this post is kinda've random, but I hope some of what I have listed helps. Best of luck.


no man thats great, its going to be tough so any insight i can get is great. I was thinking of HIIT and thought it would be a great way to shed some weight, and also not sacrifice any strength. I am ordering the 84 pound weighted vest from elitefts.com to do a lot of my training. Thanks man.


HIIT cardio is a great idea! here is an example idea.

Weight vest and stadiums, walk do not run, short intervals, 2 mins on 1 min off etc...

End the session by taking hte vest on an doing two sessions running twice the amount of time that you walked.


With your goals of weight loss, nutrition is key and using JB's Precision Nutrition is a great idea. He sums it up and you will meet all of your nutritional needs as well. You might even want to take a peak at the Dave Tate Project Articles to get an idea of how to structure your food and workouts. He isnt a football player but he is a large strong man who dropped major weight while still staying strong. Something which you are wanting to do.

Since you are an O-Lineman, your aerobic base it pretty minimal. Dont try to run miles and miles, cuz in a game you probably wont run more than 15 yards at any given time. Anaerobic conditioning like HIIT would be great like previously mentioned. Since most plays allow 30 secs in between for huddles, you could use that as your rest interval. So you would almost be simulating a game situation.

Lift heavy and keep maximal strength up with basic lifts. Your footwork also needs to be maintained, so work on your pass sets and run blocks. Do some foam rolling and stretches to stay loose. You will be noticably faster losing 50 lbs so be ready for that. Take advantage of the many technologies available, you can really make great progress now with the information available. There is certainly more now than when I played college ball. Good luck.


can you suggest any good workouts besides the stadium stairs to do for the HIIT I am def taking maximus's advice on the interval time but I will be mainly indoors for the next three months but can get my hands on some equipment so any suggestions on what would be best to shed the weight and work my explosiveness maybe some kettle ball work? thanks for all your help guys.


Here's my advice:

1. Maintain / Improve explosive strength
2. Lose 50 lbs

The first thing you need to do is make a plan that considers how long you have to achieve those goals. You should use a 21 day cycle and repeat it two or three times, then change it up. 21 day cycles are preferable because they allow you adequate time to do various things and be able to recover from them, unlike 7 day cycles which are usually crammed with stuff. I think with a good diet you can easily lose alot of weight and still maintain your strength because of all the calories you will be expending.

Try something like this:
Day 1- Olympic Lifts
Cleans, snatches, clean and jerks, various progressions (I like front squat press)
Day 2- Upper Body
Bench press, power drops / ceiling throws (medicine ball), Military press, Overhead throws (medicine ball), Pullover, skullcrushers...
Day 3- Lower Body
Squats, cleans, deadlifts, and leg press for more max strength stuff and then depth jumps and jump squats for explosiveness
Day 4- GPP / Conditioning
Sled pulls, sled push, tire flipping, push a car, sprints (10-30m), some medicine ball throws, sandbag throws (like a snatch throw), v-ups, swimming... pick a few
Day 5- Rest

And so on.. but try the 21 day split, it adds some flexibility so you can take a day of rest if needed (unexpectedly) or do GPP or olympic lifts twice one week, or whatever you want. If you want to get really detailed you can devise a scheme that would give you 42 or 63 day phases (2 or 3 21 day cycles) and have the first one focus on GPP / conditioning (still implement some power / strength stuff of course) and then the next phase focus on max strength, then power, power endurance... you get the picture.

That's my advice, so tell me what you think.


Just FYI there was a very interesting discussion in the elitefts q&a section on the use of anaerobic glycolytic training and how it is bad for football conditioning. Check out the questions to "The Thinker" and Mark McLaughlin. Defranco even chimes in at the end.
That is the question that started it all, but it appears in the middle of the discussion as it was edited.

I'll admit, much of the discussion went over my head so I'm not the person to ask any follow up questions. But it seems to me that doing intervals over ~15 seconds or so with incomplete recovery (heart rate stays in anaerobic zone - basically a "lactic environment") is good for losing weight, but not so good for football conditioning (at least in the opinion of these authors).


I'm guessing the reason they think it's bad is because of the incomplete recovery which doesn't allow atp / creatine stores to replenish thus less power output on the next rep. For football "conditioning" I don't really see the problem with this as long as the rest period mimics something similar to the tempo of your teams offense and the time between snaps.


Here is a page with most of the posts

My understanding of their logic is as follows:
1. There are three energy systems, short (ATP-PC), intermediate (anaerobic glycolysis) and long (aerobic)
2. Ideally football players will use ATP-PC during the play and the aerobic system to recover.
3. It is important to have a strong aerobic system in order to recover fully between each play. If it is not strong enough, then there will be more anaerobic glycolysis used.
4. This is bad as it will cause fatigue over the course of a long drive/in the 4th quarter etc due to incomplete recovery. Essentailly what you said in your post, but in the game.
5. Thus the energy systems that should be stressed are ATP-PC (get stronger/faster etc.) and the aerobic (increase recovery ability between short intense bouts of activity).
6. Mitochondria are a key part of the aerobic system and doing to much anaerobic glycolysis work can actually kill them off within your cells (hypoxia) thus reducing the ability of the aerobic system to recover between plays.
7. Working the aerobic system doesn't necessarily mean long slow runs (which are bad for power/strength etc.) but making sure the intensity of any intervals/tempo runs/whatever is at the right level (not too high).
8. A key difference between say a sprinter and a football player is that the sprinter doesn't have to worry about recovery (they don't have to run another race 30 seconds later or do 20-50 'races' in one day), thus they can do a lot of anaerobic glycolysis training.

Here is another good post on the topic

Anyway, as I said, I don't really have the knowlege to comment intelligently on this. All I can really do is rehash what others have said (as I have done here to the best of my ability). I found the discussion very interesting though and it is probably worth it for any football player to read, even if they don't agree with it.


I don't see how you can train the atp / creatine and aerobic energy systems and somehow skip the intermediate energy system between it? I think we can both agree that there needs to be "power training" that involves increasing power and acceleration off the line (atp-pc) and then conditioning that mimics the needs of an o-lineman during a game (regardless of what energy system that happens to be).

For an o-lineman I think the power and conditioning training would be similar, except that the conditioning would be higher volume so it would actually be more like power endurance.


I'm pretty sure there is somewhat of a carryover when people are training different energy systems. Afterall, it is rare to be using strictly one energy system at any given time. But, I would imagine that the key would be to manipulate work and recovery time of the intervals so that the heart rate stays in the aerobic range. Basically, you wouldn't want the player's legs to be burning/feel like jello at the end of the session.

Perhaps the distinction lies in your "power endurance" comment. I guess there is a difference between outputing high amounts of power a short time repeatedly (i.e. 5 seconds of output followed by 30 seconds of rest repeated several times) and outputting high amounts of power for an extended period of time (like a 400m runner) and thus each type of performance may require different training techniques.

Please understand, that I was merely posting information that I felt could add to the discussion on this thread. I don't really know enough to add anything meaningfull to what was said on the elite site, nor to debate the accuracy of their statements. My guess would be that most linemen are at a state where most any conditioning would be benificial.

I just found the information interesting and possibly lead to some good discussion because:
1. it went against what I believed and what is commonly said here
2. it came from a respected source
3. it seems logical to me

Kind of reminds me of Chad's new training ideas and the debate they have stirred up.

Regarding the forum topic, does anyone else think that having a set weight goal for the entire line seems pretty dumb? Now the main goal for the OP for the summer is going to have to be to lose weight rather than focusing on getting stronger and more powerful. Furthermore, 275 seems really light for an o-lineman these days. The trend seems to be larger players, and I would think that would be for a reason.

Wouldn't it be better for:
1. coaches to make individual goals for each player
2. have the goals be performanced based like strength to weight ratio, 20 yard sprint speed etc.
3. If there was going to be a target weight, make it based on the individual player. A 6'7" lineman would have a very different ideal weight than a 6'2" lineman. What about a player who is already 300 but has a fairly low bodyfat level (relatively speaking)? It makes no sense for them to drop weight.

The OP could have trained hard in the offseason and come back stronger and faster and in good condition while still being over 300. Now the best case is that he'll be faster and have good conditioning (almost certainly) but not stronger (unless he is really weak now - i.e. a total beginer to strength training) and he'll get pushed around by the bigger linemen he faces next year.


I agree with this definately: the weight itself shouldn't really be an issue. The goals should be based on performance not weight. The training info I posted above is a pretty good example of training focused on performance. Anyways, our o-lineman needs to update us!


Hey guys, thanks for all the information it has been helpful. Responding to the weight limit, this season we had a very big offensive line weights from left to right were 300,330,320,325,285 but the issue is we are switching to a zone offensive scheme. This calls for a faster more athletic offensive line. The weight limit will most likely not be strictly inforced but more of an incentive. I am very excited about this goal personally.

We are all pretty strong especially in the interior. We lost one lineman to graduation and have lots of potential next yr. The mold I feel like we are all trying to fit is that of the Denver Broncos, all smaller (relative to the average offensive lineman in the NFL) and much more athletic. We aren't going to be required to run defensive lineman over as much as we are going to have to run by them and cut them off, giving our running back the choice of a cutback.

I have a fairly strong strenght base, my numbers before the season started were squat-500 bench-315 deadlift-600 powerclean-250 and snatch-175. The olympic lifts are newer to me and I am just getting into them. I will be working with a strength coach at my school and plan on doing most of my HIIT by myself. I am willing to do whatever I need to to lose this weight.

I already mentioned I will be using PN for my diet and I will be adhering 90%. My biggest worry is sacrificing my strength for speed which you guys are definetly helping me with. I see that you guys are debating how to train to work my ATP-PC, Anerobics, and Aerobics. Can I do this just by how i structure my training intervals with my HIIT or is there another way?

I read a good article on VO2 Max and how to improve on that, do you know what that is and will that help me with my goal at all? Thanks for all your help and input. I am going to be starting in the next two weeks so I am working on fine tuning my diet and workout plan so I can hit it hard and turn myself into a machine and All American next season.


Sounds good, I want to see specifically what your plan looks like though as far as lifting and whatever else you're doing... or do you just do whatever your strength coach tells you to do?


A good resource is the q and a section of the elite site.
There are some really good trainers that answer questions there. I'd recommend asking them if you have questions.


I havent worked with this strength trainer yet so I am not exactly sure what we will be doing. My last trainer was amazing, he is down at the citadel now as a strength coach. I am gunna talk with him and see what his ideas are and then adjust it as I have to for an offensive lineman.

I am about to start next week. I will keep a training log on here and an eating diary on PrecisionNutrition.com I will need as much support as possible. This is going to be a tough 9 months.