Sprinters Throwing Fastballs and Football Players Running Marathons

This week I was talking with one of our football players and he was discussing how the coach would start practice everyday with a mile run. What? Lets take a kid who just sat for 6 hours in a classroom, and have him run a mile. When in football do you ever run a mile? The average play lasts about 6 seconds. Yes, general cardiovascular endurance is good, but that is something that should be developed in the post/off-season, not when they are in the middle of their season.

That conversation prompted me to share this blog I did back in 2009:

Sprinters Throwing Fastballs and Football Players Running Marathons

If you want to be a better football player you train like a football player. You train for strength, power, and the ability to develop max power for 8-10 seconds with 30-45 seconds rest. If you are a marathon runner you build up enough endurance to run 26+ miles. So, why doesn’t everyone train that way? I recently saw a football player at a gym running on a treadmill for a good 30-45 minutes straight at the same pace. Sure, it is better than doing nothing, but is it going to make him a better football player? No. He would get more benefit from running 10-15 30-yard sprints with a 30 second to a minute break in between. The same thing applies with a sprinter. Why would you run for multiple miles when in your race you are only running 100meters? You should train to best simulate a game like situation. What happens if you train like a marathon runner instead of a sprinter? Along with building endurance and a much more leaner build you are going to recruit slow twitch muscle fibers instead of fast twitch muscle fibers. As a sprinter it is crucial to have more fast twitch muscle fibers throughout your body then slow twitch muscle fibers. So, train the way you play. If you need to build endurance and run a marathon, run long distances. If you are a football player, lift heavy for power, and complete sprints, not triathlons.


The same thing goes with bodybuilders and power lifters. How your body looks depends on how you lift. I often say, a bodybuilder looks like he can bench 500pounds but a power lifter can press that 500 pounds with ease. A bodybuilder cares how they look; a power lifter cares how much they lift. If you want to look like a bodybuilder you must lift like a bodybuilder. You must complete isolation movements and relatively high reps (8-12) to get the definition. If you lift constantly with ONLY compound movements and low reps (3-6) you are going to look and perform like a power lifter. That is not to say that bodybuilder cannot perform compound movements such as dead lifts, squats and bench press. However, to get the symmetry the judges are looking for isolation movements must be completed. On the other hand, why should power lifters spend their time doing biceps curls? Their time would be better spent working on the big three, squat, dead lift, and bench press. They also of course should perform other exercises to supplement the big three such as rack pulls and close grip bench press. However, their time should not be spent performing 1,001 reps of biceps curls.

So, leave with this. If you want to be a good sprinter, train like a sprinter. If you want to be a good football player, train like a football player. If you want to be a bodybuilder, train like a bodybuilder. If you want to be a power lifter, train like a power lifter. Don’t forget that. A lot of people want to be a football player but want to look like a bodybuilder. You can’t train for explosive power and have the symmetry of a bodybuilder. At the same time you can’t train isolation movements all the time and have the speed, strength, and power of a football player. Train for what you want to be!

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About Spurling Training Systems

At Spurling Training Systems, our focus is on providing a superior athletic conditioning experience. The combination of expert training, time spent understanding your specific goals and customized program development is what makes Spurling Training Systems a unique and effective training experience for athletes of all ages, levels and abilities. Doug is the founder and owner of Spurling Training Systems. He graduated from University of New England with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Exercise Science. He has several years of experience as both a personal trainer for general fitness and a strength and conditioning coach for athletes. His certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) include Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT).
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