Back when I played high school football, there was nothing I dreaded more than conditioning drills at the end of practice. After three hours of practice in the hot and humid Oklahoma sun, all you wanted to do was take a cold shower and chug Gatorade. But my coaches had other plans. In their spare time they came up with sick and sadistic conditioning drills that they piled on top of regular practice. Designed to increase the endurance and the will of our team, these drills usually consisted of wind sprints and calisthenics. When it’s 102 degrees outside, these drills could be a gut buster. At the beginning of the season, when most players were still not in shape, vomiting was common. Thankfully, I was able to go four years without up-chucking, but there were moments when I came very close.
The funny thing about football conditioning drills is that while I dreaded the lead up to them, after we were done I felt a supreme sense of satisfaction. It felt good pushing my body further than I thought it could go. And the conditioning paid off. When it was game time, being in prime physical condition allowed me to go all out on each snap for the entire four quarters.
After my senior year of football, I never thought I would do another conditioning drill again. But a few months ago when I was at the gym boring myself to death on the elliptical machine, I was reminiscing about my football days, particularly those gut busting conditioning drills. I remembered how satisfied I felt afterward. I remembered how much aerobic and anaerobic endurance I had. Years of treadmills and elliptical machines has caused my endurance for high intensity workouts to deteriorate. Sure, I was in decent shape, but I wanted to take my performance to another level.
So I decided to start doing those old conditioning drills. Here’s a list of the football conditioning drills that I’ve included or will include in my workout routine.
Warning: If you played football in high school, you might be tempted to push yourself too hard when you first start out. Your mind remembers doing these drills when you were 17 years old. However, if you’re like me, your body is 10 years older, and it’s been 10 years since you’ve done anything like this. The first time I performed these conditioning drills as an adult, I barfed and was sore for the next week. Push yourself hard, just be aware that initially it’s going to hurt-bad.
The Gut Buster
I don’t remember the name for this drill, but it was a gut buster. This one was probably my favorite one to do in high school. The first time I tried it as an adult, I barfed. Hopefully, it will continue getting easier.
1. Go to an open field and set up two cones or other markers, about 40 yards apart.
2. Stand by one of the cones and start off by performing 10 squat jumps.
3. Immediately following the squat jumps, sprint as fast as you can to the other cone.
4. Upon reaching the cone, perform 10 sit-ups.
5. After the sit-ups, sprint back to the original cone and do 10 up-downs or burpees.
Continue to sprint back and forth between the cones, performing the following exercises:
6. Sprint followed by 10 push-ups.
7. Sprint followed by 10 mountain climbers.
8. Sprint followed by 10 butt kickers.
9. Sprint followed by 10 jumping jacks
10. Sprint followed by 10 push-ups
11. Sprint one forty-yard dash to finish the drill.
This one is simple. Mark off 40 yards and sprint it 50 times. Rest 1 to 2 minutes in-between each sprint.
Four Corners Drill
1. Grab four cones and form a 10 yd by 10 yd square.
2. Start at one cone, and backpedal to a parallel cone (you’re going to be making your way around the perimeter of the square).
3. When you reach that cone, move directly into a shuffle to the next cone. Your feet shouldn’t cross or touch during the shuffle.
4. Upon reaching the third cone, move into the Karaoke drill.
5. When you reach the fourth cone, sprint has fast as you can to the last one (you are now back where you started).
Do 5 sets. Rest 1 minute in-between sets.
You can include different movements to mix things up and make it more challenging. Some suggestions:
- Bear Crawl
- High Knees
- Butt Kicks
100 Burpee Challenge
10 sets of 10 burpees. A minute rest between each set.
40, 60, 80, 100s
1. Start on one goal line and mark off 40 yards and sprint the distance 6 times.
2. Mark off 60 yards and sprint the distance 4 times.
3. Mark off 80 yards and sprint the distance 2 times.
4. On the last set, run 100 yards from goal line to goal line, 1 time.
Rest 1 minute between sprints.
If you’ve never done some exercises mentioned in the post, or need a refresher on proper form, here are some how-to videos to take a look at:
High Knees and Bear Crawl