It’s the off season, but that’s coming to an end soon, as summer camp gets underway for most high schools. That being said, the time to up your game is in the off season, not as you’re trying to grasp the playbook and prep for this week’s game. Shaving seconds, adding pounds, and perfecting your routes? Well, that’s what April, May, and June are for….
If you’re hitting the weight room to boost explosive power and pack some needed beef on your frame, you may have the luxury the school weight room or a personal training facility. If not, here are 3 dumbbell exercises that will make a big difference in your game this coming season.
A key dumbbell advantage is that since you’re using your limbs independently, asymmetrical strength is minimized, since one side can’t compensate for weakness in the other, as can happen when using a bar. That may not sound like a big deal, but research has shown that it’s one of the primary ways to reduce injury, including pulled hamstrings.
First, banish excuses from your mind. Those are for the weak. Find a way, not an excuse! If you’re not, that guy who will playing ahead of you is!
Look on Craigslist for some adjustable dumbbells. They have several advantages over a dumbbell series:
- They take up less space. Just the thing if you’re putting them in your bedroom or the corner of your rec room or garage.
- The combined total weight is about 150-180 lbs, as opposed to nearly a ton!
- You’ll save big money. For about what you’ll spend on 2 or 3 traditional dumbbells, you can find a complete, selectorized dumbbell series from 5-90lbs
- You can completely transform your body with just these two hunks of iron.
Dumbbell Dead Squats
Here are two of the best overall weight training movements, deadlifts and squats, combined into one exercise. These will build explosiveness and power in your lower body and back while strengthening those trapezius muscles at the base of your neck. You’ll also help build grip strength. Not a bad combo. For maximum effect and minimum injury, keep your ass down and lift with your hips. Your knee angle and hip angle should decrease at the same rate, and the same time. Do not straighten your legs first, then your hips.
You’ll see a big difference in exploding off the line, getting off the jam, and blocking from this exercise. You’ll add weight in your lower body, shifting your center of mass downward. That’s a big stability benefit for running backs, tight ends, and linemen. The lower your center of mass, the harder it is to knock you off your feet.
These are stellar for overall shoulder development, and building the deltoid, trapezius and tricep muscle groups. You’ll also see gains in your serratus, those rib-looking muscles you see when you press your arms overhead. Not only will you gain strength and mass, the added meat in your shoulder area helps keep you injury free.
Why do you want to do overhead presses? Besides making you look more athletic (great for summers at the beach!), they’ll help you come out on top when going up for a pass, either as receiver or DB. They help you deliver powerful stiff arms when carrying the ball too, something that builds your yards per carry or YAC stat, and always looks great on Hudl.
Bent Over Rows
Here’s another fantastic, all-around power move that hits your entire back, rear deltoids, traps, forearms and biecps. It delivers the power you need to wrap up and hold on when tackling. They will help you do better in any movement that requires pulling, and pack the muscle mass on your upper body to better resist injury.
Bulgarian Dumbbell Squat
Football is all about explosive power and most of that comes from down low. Staying injury free is a bonus too. Here’s one that helps on both counts, and throws in balance enhancement for good measure. Studies of professional soccer and rugby players have recently discovered that one of the key factors in pulled hamstrings is a lower body strength imbalance. Basically, one leg is stronger than the other.
If you think about how most athletes historically train, it makes sense. One of their training staples is the barbell squat. Since you’re using both legs simultaneously and a single bar for resistance, it’s easy for the stronger leg to compensate for the weaker one. No chance of that happening with these guys!
The Bulgarian squat kicks the heck out of your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and if you shrug it up at the end, hits the traps well, too. Do that.
You’ll also have to activate your core muscle to keep stable, too. Anything you can do to engage the core is a good thing, but this one’s claim to fame is building balance and lower body strength.
Bulgarians resemble a lunge / squat combo, but your trailing foot is placed up on a bench, and you go straight down, instead of forward as with a lunge. Do 12-15 on each side.
Okay, this one’s not technically a dumbbell exercise, but what the heck? It’s too good to leave out. Unlike bench presses, weighted pushups deliver core development, something that’s impossible when your back’s supported by a bench. Other than that, weighted pushups bring the same advantages of bench presses, including overall development of the pecs, deltoids, and triceps.
It’s easy to change muscle emphasis by changing hand position. Moving your hands closer together emphasizes the triceps more and a wider hand placement is more chest intensive. Putting your feet up on a stable platform 8 or so inches off the ground trains your upper chest more intensely. Variations of this classic are almost endless.
Use a weighted vest or chain draped over your back to add resistance. The chain has an advantage of delivering variable resistance, since more of it comes off the floor the farther up you go. It also lets you move it around, so you can have it draped over your lower back to more heavily stress your core muscles, or over your neck to move emphasis up to your chest and neck area.
If you don’t have a training facility, grab some selectorized dumbbells and hit these exercises hard before the football season starts this fall. They’re the hot ticket to up your power and your game this year. Remember, it’s the off season work that really separates you from the pack, and gets you noticed for the right reasons. Good luck.