Football Weight Training Program for the Preseason

The Trifecta Program- the best football weight training program for preseason athletes

I have been fortunate enough to train some of the NFL’s most elite players.  Some of the training we have done has been in preparation for training camp.  Most of our players tend to be lineman or players that weigh 250+.  Unfortunately, most lineman tend to gain weight in the off-season.  Additionally, if they don’t come in at the right weight at training camp, they get fined and have to do extra workouts until they make weight.  Surprisingly, weight is still more of a factor than body composition in the NFL.  Through trial and error, we’ve worked to develop the Trifecta Program.  The ideal football weight training program for our athletes that need to get in shape prior to the start of the season.  In this piece, we’ll review how the program was created, as well as a template you can use for your program.

Our first step is to get them on the right nutrition plan.  If we have enough time, we put them on our Accelerated Performance Nutrition Plan.  Research in behavior change shows it takes on average of 9 weeks to change a behavior, so we like to work with these guys for 9 weeks. Unfortunately, we don’t always get 9 weeks. If time is limited, we need to do things that get fast results.  In those cases we typically defere to our Metabolic Detoxification Plan and our Trifecta Training plan.  Trifecta Training has been the best football weight training program for athletes that need to get in shape quickly.  


Complex training is when you follow a heavy movement pattern followed by a similar lighter pattern, done as quickly as possible.  Training a heavy movement ramps up (potentiates) the nervous system. As such, athletes will be able to move at faster velocities with subsequent movement patterns.  Please note, the effect is lost if you rest too long. Furthermore, this particular training can be defined as the attainment of three important achievements or qualities.  Trifecta Training simultaneously develops power, strength and stamina; utilizing 3 complexes paired with an active recovery exercise.


This training technique utilizes the following exercise sequencing:

  1. Strength
  2. Strength-Speed
  3. Speed-Strength
  4. Active Recovery 


For strength exercises, the best choices will be variations compound movements. Squats, deadlifts, split-squats, over-head presses, bench presses, pull-up variations, rows, as well as chains and bands work very well here.  Reps should be 6 and under two-thirds of the time.  Additionally, on days 2 and 5 you will de-load with higher reps (7-8 is a good choice).  

In comparison, Strength-Speed exercises are exercises that involve moving high loads as fast as possible. Use high-impact plyometrics, heavy medicine balls, and Olympic lifts here.  When doing cleans or snatches from the hang or floor, keep the reps 5 and under.  With this in mind, Olympic-lift derivatives can be done for higher reps.  Typically, the reps will be between 4-9 on these exercises.  Two-thirds of the time the reps should be 7 and under.  On de-load days the reps should be 8-10.

Speed-Strength exercises involve moving lighter loads as fast as possible.  Examples are lighter Olympic lifts and low to moderate impact plyometrics.  Two-thirds of the time the reps should be 7 and under, with deload days at 8-10 reps.

Lastly, choose exercises that fall into the category of pre-hab, corrective, or exercises that involve smaller muscles to allow active recovery. All things considered, this will cut down on your rest needs and further the stamina effect.  


Choose 8-10 exercises.  2 other exercises can be chosen based on whatever goal you’re working on or additional lifts you wish to perform.  If you place these exercises early in the workout, these should be either strength or power exercises and should be agonist-antagonistic in their pairing, accordingly, when placed at the end of the workout, they will be more specific to correcting any muscle imbalances or working on specific stabilization.    


Arguably, rest periods should be 15-30 seconds between movements in each series.  There is an art to the rest.  You should rest long enough to catch your breath and get your heart rate down, but not long enough to lose the activation potentiation.  For instance, rest longer between series.  Two to three minutes is usually enough due to the active recovery exercise.  


The sets should be 3 per exercise.  As a matter of fact, you may be able to go 4 sets on the exercises that consist of only 2 pairings, or you can go 4 sets on only one series.  Total sets will be 30-34 sets, so this is high volume and high intensity (due to the heavy loads and high speeds).


All exercises should be done as quickly as you can control.  Thankfully, the strength exercises naturally have a slow eccentric due to the heaviness of the weight.  Yet the concentric should be as fast as possible. Additionally,  strength-speed and speed-strength exercises will be moved as quickly as possible with minimal time spent switching from eccentric to concentric.  Also important to note, active recovery exercises have appropriate tempos relative to the exercises chosen.  

Below is a chart which you can use to Plug-and-Play exercises for Trifecta Training. You can use this to create your own preseason football weight training program.

Football Weight Training Program


Trifecta training is not for everyone, as a consequence, at Higher Power Training, we profile athletes based on their training history and abilities.  Typically a client doing this program has to be a level 4.  For us that means they’ve been training for 4 or more years with progressively increasing loads.  Additionally they must be proficient in these exercises.  

Trifecta training should be used for athletes that are looking to peak their training in 3-6 weeks.  

Below is an example program used for a NFL Pro Bowler Defensive End!

Pro Bowl Defensive End Chart

Here are some videos of the individual exercises, as performed by one of our resident NFL athletes!

Barbell Clean-Grip High Pull:

Flat Barbell Chest Press with Chains:

Explosive Push-ups:

Standing Medicine Ball Chest Throw:

Dual Low Pulley High Pull:

Narrow Fat Grip Pull-Up:

Suspension Explosive Lat Rows:

Overhead MB Throw:

Overall, implementing the Trifecta football weight training program should be incredibly easy if you follow the protocol outlined in the Plug-N-Play template.  It can be used for any position player, at any age.

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