All workout programs need to be focused on the goal of the athlete and from there develop core exercises around which to structure the program. Here The Wizard will focus specifically on the weight training portion of a football weight lifting program. The main exercises that will give the majority of high school football athletes the largest bang for their buck are the Bench Press, Squat, & Hex (Trap) Bar Deadlift.
A key to remember when focusing on weightlifting is that the athlete is focusing on skill development as their main goal not muscle development. Muscular adaptation is just a means to an ends. As a muscle is exposed to various stressors it will change/adapt anatomically in order to more efficiently and effectively handle those stressors. But the goal here is not to anatomically change the muscle for change sake, but rather to more effeciently and effectively meet the goal at hand.
Bench Press -
The bench press is the primary upper body exercise in a majority of weightlifting programs and for good reason. The primary mover in the bench press is the Pectoral Muscle aka the Chest with a secondary focus on the shoulders. Because of the focus on the chest and shoulders, as well as also having a somewhat lessor focus on a variety of other muscles the whole way down to the gluteus maximus aka the butt the bench press like the other exercises included here is thought of as a full body exercise. The primary area of concern with this lift and all lifts included here are athlete safety. Each exercise should be used with a spotter and care should be taken to ensure proper form is being used. In addition, the athlete should listen to their body for signs of overuse and/or improper form, the first areas to feel these effects will typically be the shoulders and elbow areas, though due to the complex involvement of many groups any specific aches or pains should be addressed.
Below for the Bench Press and later for the other lifts are included Strength Charts for each of the lifts. The typical football player should focus solely or almost solely on these three core lifts until they have attained at least an intermediate level on the said lift.
Slightly funny, yet instructional video on how to properly bench press -
The squat is essentially the bench for the lower body. Everyone who is anyone that performs a lower body weightroom workout will have the squat as the stable of their workout. The primary mover of the squat is the quadriceps aka the muscles in the upper part of the front of your leg. With a secondary focus on the gluteus maximus again aka your butt. Like the bench press this lift works more than just those 2 muscle groups including the stabilizing muscles in your spine, your hamstrings, etc. With the squat the biggest areas of overuse or poor form will typically be noticed in the lower back or knee joints.
Unlike the bench which starts at a lockout position of straight arms and finishes by touching the chest, the squat starts at a lockout position of straight legs and the athlete determines the final spot of depth. The Wizard recommends 90 degrees for athlete or even slightly higher if an adult with proper strength training background is not available. Significant damage can occur to the back without proper form or by the athlete and or spotter not having correct form when performing the lift.
Slightly funny, yet instructional video on how to properly squat -
Hex bar Deadlift
The hex bar deadlift is the read headed step child of the family. First you will need to find a hex bar which in many gyms will not be the easiest thing to find, if they have one at all. Secondly, you will need to explain time to anyone seeing you do this exercise why you are using a hex bar instead of a traditional barbell. With that being said, the hex bar deadlift is probably the easiest and safest and most effective of the three lifts mentioned and in The Wizard's opinion, of all lifts. The primary mover of the deadlift is gluteus maximus with a secondary focus on the hamstrings and again also working on various other muscles including those of the spine.
The reason for using a hex bar rather than the traditional barbell is that by using the hex bar your center of gravity is in line with the weights and therefore reducing the stress on your back. With the traditional barbell deadlift the athlete has to push their center of gravity in front of them in order to complete the lift and therefore stressing the lower back.
Education video on the hex bar deadlift
And there you have it, the basic lifts that should be used to begin to build your football weightlifting program around. Stay tuned for further installments.