Fitness & Diet for an Offensive Lineman
Most hitting and physical contact in football happens on the line of scrimmage. There are three offensive line positions: the center, the two guards and the two tackles. Each position faces a different type of player on the defensive line, but linemen generally need to be large, strong and agile. Lineman need to eat to gain strength and mass, but train hard to keep solid muscle and foot speed.
The left offensive tackle is typically matched up with the opponent's best pass-rushing defensive lineman. Pass rushers in the NFL typically weigh around 260 pounds, and are extremely quick off the line. If the tackle is not strong enough or quick enough to block this player, his quarterback will absorb a devastating blind-side hit that may cause him to fumble the ball. Offensive linemen are hit at least once every play and must be in great shape to sustain this through a three-hour football game.
Linemen need to be large, but eating the wrong type of foods to gain that body shape will slow you down and cause health problems. Ron McKeefery, strength coach for the University of South Florida football team, had his offensive linemen improve their diet to make them faster off the line and increase their mobility, according to Alan Dell at the "Herald-Tribune" website. Previously the players had a tendency to eat a lot of fried foods. Educating the players on diet was critical to making them better players. The starting offensive linemen lost over 40 pounds combined and more than 10 percent of body fat.
Offensive linemen, especially at the college and professional level, experience difficulty when trying to stay above 300 pounds, the typical size for many linemen at the elite level. According to former Penn State lineman A. Q . Shipley, the diet necessary to keep his weight up included eating six eggs for breakfast, over 8 ounces of meat for lunch and nearly 20 ounces of meat for dinner, along with plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Shipley says that linemen need to take in close to 5,000 calories a day to keep up with the workouts and training.
If you're an offensive lineman, keep your strength up by lifting weights. If you're trying to lift heavy loads, ask one or more teammates to spot you. When run-blocking, you need not only strength, but agility to get out of your stance quickly, according to the website Hawg Tuff. Practice this with your fellow offensive linemen by getting into your stance. The coach needs to play the part of quarterback in this drill, getting behind the center. When he calls out the snap count, explode out of your stance and quickly move five yards forward.
As with run-blocking, you need to get out of your stance quickly. Hawg Tuff explains that an effective pass blocking drill has you working against a defensive lineman. The defender initially tries to rush past you to one side only. When you're ready for a bigger challenge, give the defender the freedom to fake inside and go outside or vice versa. This gives you practice at pass-blocking, and gives your teammate practice on his pass-rushing technique at the same time.
Wade Harle began writing professionally in 2011 and holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Iowa State University. His work on sports and other topics has been published on various websites.