In football, the big guys up front rarely get any attention unless they do something wrong. Sure you might hear about a QB or running back treating the offensive line to a steak dinner for their hard work once in a while, but that is about it. The offensive line is such an integral part of football though; how many games have been lost simply because the offensive line could not move the ball, or protect the QB? I will admit that I may be biased, but I do think the offensive line is the most important unit on the football field in both the Canadian and American version of the sport.
A lot of training advice gets shared about the flashier positions. I guess it’s cooler to watch a receiver do a crazy athletic hurdle jump series, or a DB sprint a 4.4s 40 yard dash, than the “grind it out” athleticism required to be successful on the front line. With this in mind I would like to outline some of my favorite exercises for preparing young and experienced offensive linemen. Just like the position, many of the drills and exercises that I utilize are not flashy, but they are effective and definitely something that linemen can benefit from.
Deep Squat, Back Squat, Front Squat, Goblet Squat… EVERY squat
You guessed it; the squat is at the top of the list. Why? Because of the amount of hip, ankle, and upper back mobility that is needed to perform a good squat. Also when performed correctly and progressively, squats offer athletes the ability to get brutally strong. The key here is not the type of squat that you are performing, but rather mastering the squat movement pattern in general. For instance a back squat is not better than a front or goblet squat, it is just different. Athletes need to perform the style of squat that they have the appropriate range of motion and strength to complete correctly.
Bench Press… With a Swiss Bar
The bench press is a great movement to master for the offensive lineman. The pushing strength that bench press develops will greatly enhance the punching power that can be generated on the field. However, the shoulders of offensive linemen are often beat up, or sore which is why I prefer the Swiss bar variation of bench press. The Swiss bar has handles in the neutral position that put the shoulder at a less stressful angle during the bench press movement. If a Swiss bar is not accessible, a similar effect can be achieved doing a dumbbell bench press with a neutral grip. For an added challenge, add a pair of Thick grips to your dumbbells or bench press bar.
Finally, I love the battling ropes for developing offensive linemen’s conditioning, specific posture, and upper body endurance. I train my athletes to use the battling ropes in short sets, between 5-15 seconds while having them stand in a pass set posture. These can be performed as intervals, such as 5 seconds on and 10 seconds off, repeat, for as many times as you deem necessary. By having the athlete stand in their pass set stance, they increase their ability to control their limbs in a posture specific to their sport and this is a win win in my books.
There you have it, some quick and easy additions for any young offensive line training plan. Make sure to pick training experience specific exercises, for example, do not start out with heavy back squats or bench presses, choose dumbbell or Kettlebell variations first.
If you liked this check out my other Offensive Line article on Stack: 3 Essential Training Tactics for Offensive Linemen.