Muscle Sport Magazine

How Do NFL Players Keep in Shape During the Offseason?

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Have you ever stopped to wonder how long the offseason for NFL lasts? Think about it, if the Superbowl is in February and the next season doesn’t start till the following September, well that’s seven months! Sure, it’s a good time for trading and signings, but how on earth do these world-class athletes manage to stay in shape during that time? Well, we thought we’d look into it….

Preseason for fine-tuning fitness

OK, let’s work our way backwards from the start of the season to see how the finished product is formed, step by step. Now, tapering into the season proper, you’ve got preseason. This is the time that players fine tune their fitness for the battle.


By rehearsing the exact dynamic movements they’re actually going to need throughout the season itself –whether it’s the quarterback working those delts under pressure or the defense getting those traps primed—they’re all preparing their bodies for the stresses and strains ahead and getting them game-ready. It’s actually a time for building mental fitness too, particularly for rookies, who have to find their feet (or tear their Achilles, in the case of poor Patriots’ defensive tackle Isaiah Wynn!)

Training camp

Of course, before preseason, there’s a kind of pre-preseason in the form of training camp. Now this is where the boys are really beaten into shape. After months of a relatively restful time, the big guys are often too big and the little guys too small: the defense typically needs to shed a few pounds and the agile athletes often need to bulk up a little.

You’ve all seen Hard Knocks, right? If you’ve never watched the show, you should check it out, if only for an episode or two, for the powerful training inspiration. Picture the recruit training scenes from Full Metal Jacketand combine them with the training montages from Rockyand you have a pretty good idea of how it works. In other words, it’s a hardcore period of about a week (longer for rookies) where the fitness is pretty much shouted into the players by terrifying coaches! In addition to a lot of general work and scrimmages to get that solid fitness base in place ready for the upcoming season, there are plenty of drills and weight sessions. There’s also a fair amount of intellectual fitness work, reviewing old games and understanding what went wrong and what went right. 


In the months between the end of the last season and training camp, it’s time to maintain those fitness levels. Peaking at exactly the right time isn’t as crucial for football players as for, say, a sprinter or a gymnast. However, they obviously need to maintain strength and endurance when they’re not playing games every week. A classic cross training package involving weights sessions to maintain power, some calisthenics, perhaps a little swimming works well for a lot of players. Then, there are some really crazy training methods out there too that keep the mind and body guessing. For instance, Odell Beckham Jr. (wide receiver for the New York Giants) decided to take a leaf out of the strongman book by pulling a truck. Of course, there are also the voluntary offseason workout programs too for a more conventional approach!

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