Pre-Season Football Hypoxic Resistance Breathing Sprint Training

By Daniel Pierce

Marshawn Lynch wears Training Mask 2.0 during pre-game warmups on October 19, 2014. Video courtesy of FOX Sports.

American Football is arguably America's favorite past time these days. The physical prowess of the players on the field is truly a remarkable thing. There is no doubt football has progressed since the time when most pro players wore leather helmets and played both offense and defense without faceguards.

Linemen over 300lbs. are running sub 4.4s 40-meter dashes. One handed catches before hurdling men over 6 feet tall. Kickers being able to comfortably drop in field goals from over 50 yards. Running backs are able to squat 600lbs. and more for reps. These guys are some of the best physically conditioned athletes in the world and their training techniques are trickling down into the collegiate and even high school levels of the game.

As with any sport, pre-season training is of the utmost importance, especially in football. The amount of contact and shear physicality of the sport requires great recovery which means practice or strength and conditioning programs in-season are greatly toned down from their pre-season counterparts. However, putting in the work in the off-season will prepare you for the rigors of the game. Many professional football players employ resistance breathing and hypoxic protocols in their off-season to help accelerate this preparation. Here's one protocol to help increase sprint performance and recovery between downs.

FROM THE LAB TO THE FOOTBALL FIELD APPLICATION

Base on the research of Faiss 2013 this type of training would be well suited pre-season. This protocol can be employed 3X per week for up to 4 weeks within your strength and conditioning programming and may replace standard field based sprint sessions, but not necessarily sprint/stride intervals. Exceeding this time frame may actually hinder potential performance gains. *This is not intended to replace ladder, redirection, pattern, or position specific skill conditioning training.

Warm-up

  • 400-800m jog
  • 15 min of dynamic stretching and activation drills ( 2 sets 10 years each of knee pulls, quad pulls, lunges, lateral lunges, skipping, and carioca)

Working-Sets

  • 3 x 5m max effort sprints from a 3 point stance with 1 minutes rest between sets (Mask off)
  • 10 x 5m max effort sprints from a 3 point stance with 30 seconds rest between sets (Mask on)
  • 3 minute rest (1 minute Mask on:2 minutes Mask off)
  • 3 x 20m max effort sprints from a 3 point stance with 2 minutes rest between sets (Mask off)
  • 10 x 20m max effort sprints from a 3 point stance with 30 seconds rest between sets (Mask on)
  • 3 minute rest (1 minute Mask on:2 minutes Mask off)
  • 3 x 60m max effort sprints from a 2 point stance with 3 minutes rest between sets (Mask off)
  • 10 x 60m max effort sprints from a 2 point stance with 30 seconds rest between sets (Mask on)
  • 3 minute rest (1 minute Mask on:2 minutes Mask off)

Cool-down

  • 400-800m jog with a ball
  • Static stretch cool down if not performing other training (60s for hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, pririformis, calves, shoulders, chest, etc).

Brechue, William F, Jerry L Mayhew, and Fontaine C Piper. "Characteristics Of Sprint Performance In College Football Players." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 24, no. 5 (2010): 1169-1178.

Robbins, Daniel W. "Positional Physical Characteristics of Players Drafted Into the National Football League." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25, no. 10 (2011): 2661-2667.

Faiss, R., Girard, O., & Millet, G. P. (2013). Advancing hypoxic training in team sports: from intermittent hypoxic training to repeated sprint training in hypoxia. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 47(Suppl_1), i45-i50.

DISCLAIMER

Please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise or exercise program. When undertaking any exercise activity, there is a risk of injury. You should be healthy and familiar with the proper form, techniques, and preparation for the exercises you undertake and the equipment you use. Always use safe techniques and protective equipment when engaging in exercise. If you are unfamiliar with the proper and safe techniques and equipment for the exercises you intend to perform, please seek advice and assistance before performing them. If you are in poor health, or are handicap, ask for the opinion of your physician or health care provider and exercise only under qualified supervision. Discontinue exercising if you experience any light headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, or discomfort and consult your physician or other health care provider.