Chasing Greatness

Keys to Developing Football Players

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Keys to Developing Football Players

By: Jason Hadeed

The science of off-season training has evolved dramatically since the thought of even training for sport although some schools of thought have not. I am a big believer of creating bigger, faster, stronger, and more conditioned athletes but the approach I use is not the most accepted approach in the industry. If you had to define my style it would be high intensity training but as I like to call it, “the hybrid approach”. I feel that all lifts are important but how they are implemented can make or break the program. The bottomline is that we take each set to exhaustion and we move onto the next one. I move in a push-pull or pull-push fashion all the while systematically beating the piss out of our athletes. Now I know what some of you are thinking, you cannot do that all the time! Guess what? I do and we develop physically superior athletes, my job is to challenge my athletes so they develop. I often say football is an uncomfortable sport so I need to get you uncomfortable.


The upper body routines consist of about 8-12 exercises some of which we can go for 2 sets at times and the lower body consists of the same volume. When doing our upper body routine we switch up the order of exercises so the bench press is not always first. This blows a lot of people away that we could care less about how much we are putting up. Here is another brain buster, we will not 1 rep max our guys either! I like a push-pull or pull-push format with a lot of single jointed movements to isolate some of the smaller muscles. We will end the upper lift with one set of biceps and triceps which we call “Friday Night Lights”.


Now when I say core development I am not talking about a bunch of fancy moves or gimmicky crap! Our “core development” will focus on a variety of moves with an emphasis on front and side planks. Talking with several physical therapists there is a notion that the planks are best for developing a strong mid section (abs and low back). We will compliment the planks with rotational movements as well as standard crunches. My philosophy here is simple; a strong mid section is the center of strength in football, when HITTING this area needs to be strong to give impact but if not strong it will fold therefore now absorbing impact. Understand that we eventually have to absorb a hit but if we are stronger there then more of the forces will be displaced on our opponents.


Now we do not always do legs last sometimes we will start with them which our guys hate but we have to have variety and equality when training. Typically we will start with a leg press, lunges, or squat. We do not emphasize heavy loads but slow and controlled movements. We will often pair a leg press up with a Plyometric activity for a greater response.

Here is a typical lower body routine

Leg Press to plyo lunge (20 sec)
Leg curl
Back extension
Box jumps
Log lunges
Seated Calf
Standing calf
Relay or shuttle run to sled push for distance


Then at the end we have the FINISHERS! These can be farmer walks, sled pushes, relays; wall sits….you get the picture. We begin and end each workout with dynamic flexibility and ladder work plus at the end we have a neck routine as well. We call it training the nose to the toes, nothing is missed.

So what I am getting at is there is no one exercise that is more important than another. I always see these questions on message boards. Which exercise should I focus on and all these so called experts or personal trainers get on there and give their peace. I love this one person who said the incline press was the most important exercise for linemen because it mimics the angle of movement or the hammer jammer will develop explosion and is position specific. You cannot develop these skills in a weight room to begin with and second our job is to develop the strongest all around athlete. I don’t care if you believe or not, this works and works well. Keep trying to emphasize just some core lifts without balance or intensity and meet one of my athletes on the goal line in the 4th quarter, and after we are done scoring on you revisit my thoughts!

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About The Author:

Jason Hadeed is the president and founder of Elite Athlete Training Systems, Inc., a company dedicated to training high school, college, and professional athletes. As a former NFL and Olympic Strength Coach, he brings his high intensity training system not only to athletes but to the general population as well. Jason was rated as one of the top 100 trainers in America by Men’s Journal two years in a row, and rated one of Washington DC’s top trainers by Washingtonian Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Men’s Health and Shape magazines as well as popular websites such as and Jason also serves as the fitness consultant to best selling author Dr. Pamela Peeke. Jason holds a BS in Kinesiology, with certifications from NSPA and ACE.

To learn more about Coach Hadeed or to contact him go to his

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