Watch any Monday Night Football match-up and it’s clear that the game requires serious speed, strength and agility—elements worth working on, no matter our game. Swap this routine in for your regular workout twice a week to see results. These 11 gridiron-inspired moves will burn calories, build strength and help you become a better athlete—no matter your sport!
Your coach: Johnny Johnson, a certified strength and conditioning specialist with Athletic Republic St. Louis—a training facility that’s hosted the Denver Broncos’ Montee Ball and Paris Lenon. Johnson has played professionally in the Indoor Football League and has coached a women’s league.
You’ll need: Three plastic cones, a stopwatch and about 15 yards of open space.
Your plan: “This workout incorporates a dynamic warmup to prime the muscles for activity; agility drills to improve reaction and quickness; and components of strength, power and anaerobic endurance training,” says Johnson. The first four moves are your dynamic warm-up, so do them one right after the other. Then the fifth move will start building agility. Once you start getting stronger, feel free to repeat moves to challenge yourself!
1. Hug it Out
Stand with your feet together, then step your right foot out in front of you. Pause and raise your left leg, grabbing it at the knee and hugging it up toward your chest. Release your left leg and step into a forward lunge. Step out of the lunge with your right leg, repeating the grab, hug, release and lunge motions on the opposite side. Repeat, alternating legs and moving forward in a straight line, for approximately 15 yards.
2. Cradle Robber
Stand on your left leg while you cradle your right leg, pulling up equally at the knee and ankle with your hands to create a rotational stretch in the hip. Release your right leg and step forward into a single-leg Romanian deadlift, leaning forward at the hips and swinging your left leg behind you with your left knee slightly bent. As you return to an upright position, swing your left leg through your standing position and up in front of you, grabbing hold of and cradling your knee and ankle. Repeat, alternating legs and moving forward in a straight line, for approximately 15 yards.
3. Side-to-Side Rock
Start with your feet in a wide stance, and lunge from side to side in a smooth rocking motion. As you push up out of the lunge, slide your left foot in to meet your right and immediately slide your right foot out into another wide stance, so that you are moving laterally (to the right) in a straight line. Continue for about 15 yards, then repeat, going back in the opposite direction.
4. Pro Run
Run in a straight line about 15 yards, reaching your knees up in front of you as high as possible. Alternate legs quickly and stay on the balls of your feet. Turn around and run back the other way, kicking your feet back behind you so that your ankles touch your butt.
5. Agility Drill
Set up three cones in a straight line, each five yards apart. Start at the second (center) cone and sprint to the first cone. Turn around and sprint back, past the second cone all the way to the third cone. Turn around and sprint back to the center cone. Do this four times, using a stopwatch to time each interval. Log your best time, then test yourself in five weeks to measure your improvement.
6. Superbowl Shuffle-Sprint
Using the same three-cone setup, start at the third (back) cone and shuffle laterally for five yards to the second cone, staying low to the ground and moving as quickly as you can. At the second cone, change direction into a full-on sprint for another five yards. Touch the first cone and then change direction, switching back over into a lateral shuffle for five yards. At the second cone, cross over again to a sprint. Repeat five to six times with no rest.
7. L-Cone Drill
Set up three cones in an L-shape, each five yards apart. Start at the “top” of the L and sprint to the “bottom,” reaching down to touch the cone. Turn around and sprint back to the top cone and circle around it as tightly as you can, then sprint all the way to the third cone at the end of the L. Circle this cone as tightly as you can, then sprint back around the L, outside the bottom cone and past the top cone to finish. Time this drill with a stopwatch; repeat four times and log your best time, then test yourself in five weeks to measure your improvement.
8. Push-Up to Touch
Start in plank position with a wide foot placement, just within reaching distance of a cone. Stabilize and engage your core, then reach out overhead with one arm to touch the top of the cone, all while keeping your body in a straight line and being sure not to let your hips or shoulders dip. Place your hand back on the ground, then repeat with the other arm. (To make this move more challenging, add a push-up between every reach.) Complete 5 to 8 reps with each arm, then finish by doing as many regular or modified push-ups as you can.
9. Squat Jump
Start in a squat position: Knees bent, butt down, back straight, and toes pointed slightly outward. Explode upward by jumping as high as you can, then absorb the impact by landing on the balls of your feet and going right back into your squat. Do 10 reps, making sure your knees are not buckling inward upon landing or push-off.
10. Wall Abs
Stand about 12 inches from a wall, facing away, with knees slightly bent. Extending your hips and spine, reach overhead with hands clasped into fists. Arch your back slightly and lean backward—lifting one leg out in front of you—to touch the wall. Try to control the movement as you slowly return to an upright position with both feet on the ground. Complete 10 to 15 reps, alternating legs.
11. Hamstring Stretch
Prop your foot up on a bench or another object about 2 feet high. Flex your foot and reach with your opposite hand across your shin. Pulse in and out of this stretch 5 to 10 times, trying to stretch a little bit farther each time. Repeat on opposite side.