Experts Explain How to Get a Body like an NFL Football Player

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If you’ve ever seen an NFL player out of uniform, you know it’s not just the shoulder pads adding bulk to their frame.

Football players are incredibly well-built. They have a desirable, strong physique with a broad back, wide shoulders, and sturdy legs.

You don’t need to be a professional NFL player to attain this body type.

But whether you’re a complete beginner or someone who’s been training for years, it will take a lot of hard work, discipline, and dedication.

So how can you get a body like a football player?

To get a body like a football player, you’ll need to follow a muscle-building routine, improve your conditioning, and develop more strength and power. Focus on building big glutes and traps to complete the look.

You should also clean up your diet and eat an adequate amount of protein — about 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day — to achieve the right body composition.

It’s not easy, but you can achieve a body like a football player by having the right tools in place to help you succeed.


What Are the Hallmarks of the Football Player Physique?

Football players are known for their broad shoulders, thick and muscular legs, and overall well-built bodies.

You can tell that football players train hard to obtain and maintain their physiques.

This is also true for anybody who has a similar body type even if they don’t play the sport.

However, there’s a reason why football players have brawny shoulders and strong legs: their build helps them excel on the field.

Football is a physically demanding sport full of sprinting and explosive movements.

Strong legs and glutes are required to help football players accelerate during the game.

The upper body plays a large role in sprinting as well. This is why football players also have well-developed backs, traps, and shoulders.

People with a football player’s physique have fantastic overall fitness and agility as well as a well-functioning cardiovascular system. 


9 Training Tips for a Football Player Body

It takes a lot of hard work and training to develop a football player body, but it’s not as difficult as you might assume.

Playing football will help with your training, but it’s not necessary if you don’t enjoy it.

Instead, you should work on growing and developing the muscles that are most prominent in football players.

To do that, you can follow the nine tips below. The first two in particular are highly recommended by experts.

1. Develop Your Glutes

Your glutes are the largest and one of the most important muscles in your body.

There’s a connection between the speed and performance of athletes and the size of their glutes, as this study from the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows.

The research reveals that elite sprinters’ glutes are 45% bigger than the glutes of sub-elite sprinters.

Researchers also discovered that glute size contributes to variabilities of up to 44% in sprint times. Therefore, bigger glutes can result in better athletic performance.

There’s a ton of sprinting involved in football, so training your glutes to achieve a football player physique is imperative.

According to personal trainer Josh Lafond, strengthening your glutes can help stabilize your pelvis and spine, which will help when you’re playing football—if you choose to play, of course.

Josh recommends doing hip thrusts to improve your glute strength. To perform a hip thrust, follow the steps below:

  • Sit on the ground with a flat bench behind you
  • Lay a barbell across your body just below your hips, using a barbell pad for comfort if you need to
  • Lean your shoulders against the bench, making sure they’re above your hips
  • Drive your hips upward to lift the bar
  • Once your upper body forms a straight line and your legs are at a 90-degree angle, squeeze your glutes and pause at the top before returning to the starting position
  • Perform three sets of 10 reps

2. Grow Your Traps

Kate Meier, a personal trainer with garagegymreviews.com, points out that “most football players have big trap muscles and thicker necks than the average person.”

They utilize their large trap muscles by clutching the ball, tackling other players, sprinting, and engaging in other intense movements during the game.

If you want to get a body like a football player, you’ll want to train your traps. Doing so will also help strengthen your back and broaden your shoulders.

The rowing machine is incredible for growing your traps. In fact, many of the exercises involved in trying to get a rower’s body are fantastic for this.

Shrugs, overhead movements, and lateral movements are also fantastic for strengthening the traps and developing a muscular back.

Here are a few exercises you can try:

  • Upright rows
  • Rack pulls
  • Face pulls
  • Dumbbell lateral raises
  • Dumbbell military presses
  • Dumbbell snatches
  • Pullup shrugs and other pullup variations
  • Dumbbell jump shrugs
  • Barbell behind-the-neck shrugs
  • Any other shrug exercises you enjoy and that you find effective

3. Increase Your Leg Strength

Lunges, single-leg deadlifts, and squats are excellent for increasing leg strength. You may also want to consider step-ups and box jumps.

Experiment with different types of exercises, too. For example, if you hate regular squats, try Bulgarian split squats or goblet squats.

You can perform either movement with a kettlebell or dumbbells and increase the weights as you get stronger.

Running is another great way to train your legs. Consider using the treadmill to warm up before your main workout.

If you hate the treadmill, there are a few things you can try to make treadmill workouts more appealing.


4. Strengthen Your Build With HIIT Workouts

Strengthening your overall build is necessary if you want to get a body like a football player. After all, playing football is a full-body workout.

High-intensity interval workouts are fantastic for cardio, weight loss, and muscle building.

You can attend a HIIT class or check out workout videos online. 

Many HIIT workouts are supplemented with strength training routines, which will help develop a strong upper and lower body, too.


5. Train with Compound Barbell Movements

Kate Meier says, “Basically when you look at a football player they look solid and sturdy which makes sense in a sport that involves people slamming into each other’s bodies.”

Kate recommends engaging and building immense strength on in classic compound movements such as rows, deadlifts, and squats.

These movements are effective because they work more than one muscle group at a time.

In addition to helping build a strong physique, they translate well to sport-specific movements such as those that are required on the football field.

Other exercises to try include the bench press, overhead press, and power clean.

If you’d like a break from the barbell, you can supplement your training with dumbbell movements.


6. Train Like a Strongman

Kate Meier recommends incorporating “heavy functional movements” into your routine. In short, this means training like a strongman.

To do that, you should do sandbag carries and farmer’s carries with odd objects.

Doing sled pushes and pulls will also work the large muscle groups that football players use during their training.


7. Work On Agility and Power

Football players have to run, tackle, sprint, and weave their way through a field of players.

This requires agile joints and explosive movements. Football players also use a lot of power when completing the 40-yard dash.

Bodyweight exercises are perfect for working on your agility and explosiveness.

Here are a few exercises that can help:

  • Lateral plyometric jumps
  • Side to side drills and lateral running
  • High knee drills and forward running
  • Plyometric agility drills
  • Shuffle runs
  • Drop box jumps
  • L drills

8. Develop Your Upper Body Through Sprinting

Sprinting engages various upper body muscles. People who want to get a sprinter’s body train their upper bodies just as much as their lower bodies. 

Football players do a lot of sprinting. In addition to helping grow their leg muscles, it helps them build a muscular upper body, too.

Here are a few tips to help get you started with sprinting:

  • Start slow—building endurance takes time
  • Warm up with five minutes of brisk walking, slow jogging, or dynamic stretches
  • Find a running track or a large, open area to do your sprints
  • Start with a 1:3 to 1:5 ratio of sprints to recovery—for example, sprint for 30 seconds, walk for 90 to 150 seconds, then sprint for 30 seconds and repeat the pattern for 20 minutes
  • Cool down for at least five minutes with a brisk walk
  • Consider using running apps to track your progress

9. Clean Up Your Diet

Football players don’t have much body fat. If you want to look like one, you need to follow a good diet that prevents you from gaining excess weight.

Following the workout tips above will help you shed excess body fat, but you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

Cutting out processed foods, reducing your alcohol consumption, and eliminating sugary drinks will help you maintain a lower weight.

You also need to eat enough to fuel your training. For this, you’ll need lots of protein. You should aim for 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.

Protein helps you feel fuller longer, which is beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight. It’s also necessary to build and maintain muscle mass.

When you work out, you create tiny micro-tears in the muscle fibers. Protein helps repair those tears and grow your muscles in the process.

It’s a good idea to have a protein shake before or after you hit the gym. This will give you extra fuel for your workout, and it provides exactly what your body needs to start healing after you train.


Wrapping Up

You don’t need to be a pro football player to get the body of one.

By training the right muscle groups and cleaning up your diet, you’ll be well on your way to looking like you could dominate the field.

As a result of your training, you’ll also be able to handle explosive and agile movements while looking good, too.

Make sure to train your whole body for explosive strength, follow a proper performance diet, and keep up with your training once you’ve achieved your desired body type.

Consistent training and healthy eating habits will help maintain your physique for months and years to come.

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Hope this helps!

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