Top Conditioning Exercises for Wide Receivers
Wide receivers need linear speed and lateral agility to separate from defensive backs, jumping ability to catch high passes, plus the strength and endurance to survive and thrive for the entire football season. A good conditioning program should touch on all of these points, with a variety of exercises to keep you in top shape.
Leg and Core Flexibility
Improving your leg and core flexibility helps your agility and straight-line speed. Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson does flexibility exercises such as walking knee tucks and Spider-man lunges. Do knee tucks by standing erect and lifting your knee to your chest while rising to the ball of your opposite foot. Grasp your knee, pull it toward your chest, lower your foot and then repeat with the opposite leg. Continue for about 10 yards. Perform the Spider-man lunge by taking a long, deep lunge forward in which you touch your right elbow to your left foot. Keep your front foot flat but rise onto the toe of your rear foot. Hold the stretch for three seconds, step forward with your back leg and repeat the stretch. Continue the pattern for 5 to 10 yards.
Improve Your Agility
The ability to change directions quickly can give a receiver a big advantage when running pass patterns. Atlanta Falcons star Roddy White performs a drill in which he sets up four cones in a diamond pattern -- with 6 to 8 yards between the side cones -- and places a fifth cone in the middle. Starting at the first cone, White runs straight to the middle cone, shuffles laterally to a side cone and then runs straight to the cone farthest from his starting point. He then cuts sharply and runs straight to the second side cone, shuffles laterally to the middle cone and runs straight back to the first cone. Perform the entire exercise as fast as possible.
Plyometric exercises can improve your explosive speed -- helping you get a quick break from the line of scrimmage and improving your vertical jump and stamina. Veteran Minnesota Vikings wideout Greg Jennings does box jumps, leaping onto a 30-inch box, landing on flat feet and then squatting. Non-NFL receivers should start with a smaller platform, around 20 inches, and work your way up to a challenging height that fatigues your muscles after three reps. Perform six sets of three reps each, with 60 to 90 seconds of rest between sets.
Wide receivers are rarely even close to being the largest players on a football field. Nevertheless, they require strength to catch the ball in traffic, hang on to the ball when they’re taking hits and to block for running plays. Certified strength and conditioning specialist John Cissik on the STACK website recommends upper-body exercises such as bench presses, military presses, cleans, snatches arm curls and triceps extensions to help wide receivers perform strength-based tasks on the field. Lower-body activities -- including squats, lunges, mountain climbers and calf raises -- primarily help receivers improve their speed and cutting ability, although strong legs also provide a stable base for blocking. Exercises that include core work -- Cissik recommends deadlifts and kettlebell swings, for example -- improve both speed and strength.
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