How to Train Like a Football Player

How to Train Like a Football Player

November 5th was American Football Day. This year, the regular football season runs from September 5th to December 29th. Your favorite players have been training hard, and whether you’re a die-hard fan or you watch only for the half-time show in February, it’s easy to appreciate the feats of athleticism that take place in every game. 

Football players need an impressive amount of strength, cardiovascular endurance, stamina, speed, and agility. If you want the physique and athleticism of a football pro, you’ll need to train like one!  

Here are 5 exercises that will work your muscles hard and test your physical limits. 

5 Workouts That Test Your Limits 

Exercise 1 – Sled Push/Pull 

The most recognizable exercise we see football players do in training is the sled tackle. You may not need to be tackling anyone, but the principle of the movement is to learn how to dig deep and use your legs to drive your body forward. A Prowler Sled can be loaded up with weights to intensify your workout and focus your energy without the impact of a tackle. 

Alternatively, you can pull the sled with a rope attachment, much like you would pull on a rope in tug-of-war. This flips the focus from your lower body to your upper body and helps you develop a killer grip-strength. For catching a football, rock climbing, scaling a ladder, or opening a jar, having a solid grip is an indicator of good, overall strength.

Exercise 2 – Rows 

The Golden Rule of Equation Solving, and what should be the golden rule for exercise: What you do to one side, you must do to the other. Many people will focus only on ab workouts thinking that’s how they’ll get a shredded six-pack. Your back muscles, however, are very much a part of your core strength and stability. Having a strong back enables you to perform other exercises more safely and with more strength and power. 

Rows are pretty versatile and can be done with a rowing machine for cardio, or with a barbell or TRX cables for strength building. For total-body fitness, make sure to focus on all the muscles in your body instead of just the ones that receive a lot of hype (like abs, biceps, and glutes). Football athletes don’t want to have any weak points so they can take a fall or a tackle and get back up to go again. Your weekly training regimen should aim for the same comprehensiveness.

Exercise 3 – Agility Ladders 

Put your speed and agility to the test with agility ladders and do a lot of great things for your ankle strength as well. This is another easily recognizable drill. You may have seen it in training sessions for football, soccer, rugby, and other sports that require quick and precise maneuvering.  

An agility ladder is a flat ladder with evenly spaced rungs. You essentially use it to mark the space on the ground where you will step in, out, and around the lines as quickly and as accurately as possible.

To zero in on the agility component, you’ll need to make a point of targeting your ability to stop, start, and change direction with a high response time. This can make for an interesting and focused workout if you have someone calling out direction changes and various instructions to keep you literally “on your toes.”

Exercise 4 – suicide Sprints 

If you can do a pull-up with added weight, doing a pull-up without it is a whole lot easier, right? Athletes practice under the same principle. In training, they put their bodies through the toughest conditions so that game day feels like child’s play.  

One of their most important assets is their cardiovascular and respiratory endurance. The ability to run up and down that field with the added weight of all the padding and gear, takes a lot of serious conditioning! 

Suicide Sprints involve sprinting to and from a series of spaced markers. The idea is to sprint to the first marker, touch it, and then sprint back to your starting point. You’ll immediately, sprint to touch the second marker, and then back again to your starting point. You continue doing this until you’ve run to and from all the markers. You can increase the difficulty by adding more markers or setting them farther apart. After giving this exercise a try, you’ll understand the reason for its grim naming. 

Exercise 5 – Walking Lunges 

Another great cardio exercise is walking lunges. With your legs doing most of the work, the work of this large muscle group will have you sweating in no time. This exercise hones-in on your quads and glutes and will teach them to endure prolonged use.  

To focus more on strengthening your leg muscles, you’ll need to progressively increase the amount of weight they need to move. You can do this by holding dumbbells or wearing a weighted vest as you go. 

For tips on getting your mentality into gear for your workout, read about how you can Approach Your Workout Like an Athlete at Practice. Or, hear from Matt Harrison, LA Fitness member and an elite athlete, on Episode 12 of our Podcast. He shares what changes he made to his lifestyle to go from ordinary to extraordinary. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

How to Like Running – Podcast Ep. 34

How to Like Running – Podcast Ep. 34

Welcome to the 34th episode of the Living Healthy podcast, presented by LA Fitness.

On this episode of the Living Healthy Podcast, we speak with Greg McMillan, Founder and Head Coach at McMillan Running and former National Trail Marathon Master’s Champion.

Having trained everyone from new runners to Olympians, Greg understands what it takes to run for the first time and what training looks like for those looking to up their game. Listen in to learn some things you may not know about running, to bust some misconceptions about its effects on your joints, and to hear a gross bug story from Andrew. 

How Are We Doing? 

This podcast should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Timecard Markers – How to Like Running – Podcast Ep. 34  



Introduction of Founder and Head Coach at McMillan Running, Greg McMillan, M.S 


What Makes You So Passionate About Running? 


What are Some Reasons to Add Running to Your Routine? 


The Shared Experience Among Runners 


What Would Help New Runners Get Started? 


Is it Difficult to Get into Running in Baby Steps? 


Is it Important to Find Out What Kind of Runner You Are? 


Do You Need Special Shoes for Distance Running? 


What is a Good Distance to Start with If You’re Training for a 5K? 


Stride and Cadence to Increase Pace in Long Distance Running 


Recommendations for Hydration Before and During a Run 


If You’re Not Well Hydrated, Should You Avoid Running? 


What are the Right Shoes for Sprinters? 


Are Intervals the Right Way to Train for Sprinting? 


What is a Good Starting Routine for Beginners? 


What Is Running’s Physical Toll on Your Body? 


Is Running Good for Losing Weight? 


What is Good or Bad Running Form? 


Can Music’s BPM Enhance Your Cadence? 


Should You Stretch Before or After Running? 


Myth Busting: Will Running Cause Your Skin to Sag Over Time? 


Actionable Advice 




Recommended Podcast Episodes 

What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Working Out?

What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Working Out?

As a protection mechanism, our brain often convinces us that we are capable of far less than we really are. This is a preservation instinct that is meant to protect your body from over-exertion and from burning through its precious fat-stores.

Our brain relies on its survival skills. It wants your body to expend as little energy as possible to save up for the day when your usual resources are not available. 

If you know that muscles require energy (calories) to sustain themselves, you may already see the picture we’re trying to paint. If your body no longer needs to lift, push, or drag the heavy things, your brain starts to consider your muscles as liabilities instead of assets. They are using more energy than what your activities call for.  

That is why, if you stop working out, your brain responds with “well, we don’t need these anymore!” 

Now, don’t panic. Your muscles won’t completely atrophy as though you’d never seen a day of exercise. In fact, drastic muscle atrophy is really a sign of severe malnutrition, disease, injury, or certain disorders. With less use, your muscles will simply decrease in mass. 

Let’s peer into the details of what really happens to your body when you stop working out. 

Your Cardiovascular Health Is Likely the First to be Affected

At around 2 weeks after stopping exercise, what your body gained from consistent exercise can already start to diminish.  

Several studies, some of which we discuss here, cite cardiovascular endurance and VO2 maximums (how much oxygen your body can process for energy) as the targets of change within the first 2 to 4 weeks of stopping exercise.  

In a study on the effect of training and detraining (a period of no exercise) on heart rate variability, a group of healthy young men completed 12 weeks of intensive training followed by several weeks of not working out.

The participants all saw an increase in their VO2 max and in their heart’s overall power after the 12 weeks of vigorous exercise. Once they started the period of detraining, it took about 2 weeks to see a reduction in both of these areas. It took 8 weeks to completely undo the cardiovascular benefits they built from their 12 weeks of training.1 


Another study found similar results and cited a period of 2-4 weeks to start seeing the decline.2 One spark of hope from this study, however, comes from their comment on current research. This research tells us that the decline can be slowed, and the improvements retained for several months, if training is reduced instead of completely stopped! 2  

Your Strength Takes Longer to Diminish

We found some interesting insights in a study that compared the after-effects of stopping endurance training with the after-effects of stopping resistance training. The first 24 weeks of the study were spent training and another 24 weeks were spent detraining.  

The researchers found that the participants who strength trained maintained their improvements in strength and lean mass for a longer period of time after stopping exercise than those who endurance trained.3 

Another study determined that athletes could take up to 3 weeks off from strength training without suffering loss of strength.4 This is because muscle gain was quickly returned once they resumed strength training after the 3 weeks.

Stopping Exercise May Affect Your Brain

This is a less frequently researched topic, and there are limitations to current literature on the subject, but some of the findings are still worth looking into. One study monitored blood flow to certain parts of the brain in highly athletic older adults.

With the understanding that exercise has positive effects on the structure and function of the hippocampus (the part of the brain that handles emotion and memory), this study wanted to look into what would happen in this area of the brain if exercise was stopped.5 


While the study observed no change in cognitive function, it did find that “training-induced changes in hippocampal blood flow may be reversed with 10 days of exercise cessation.” 5  

What this suggests is that just 10 days after transitioning from an active lifestyle to a suddenly inactive one, you can lose the positive effects that exercise was having on your brain. 

Closing Thoughts

Keep in mind that all these studies focus on a group of people who may be of a different age, sex, fitness level, and on a different workout regimen than you are.

What the results ultimately demonstrate is that changes in physical fitness and body composition have been observed when the participants stopped exercising. The time frame in which it happened, and the extent of the change, was all relative to the specific group that was studied. 

There are also a variety of other potential changes not discussed here, like your percentage of body fat, your blood pressure, your cholesterol levels, and innumerable other pieces of data that can be studied and measured.  

In the end, to avoid losing all of your progress, what can be learned from all this research is this: 

  1. Your cardiovascular endurance and VO2 max can start to diminish at 2-4 weeks


  2. If it’s healthy and safe to do so, try not to stop exercising abruptly. Working out less, or in a different way, can help you maintain the progress you made.


  3. The effects of strength training are harder to lose than the effects of endurance training


  4. In some cases, the positive effects of exercise on the brain can be lost in as little as 10 days 

To learn more about the relationship between cholesterol and exercise, read our article on How to Manage Your Numbers Naturally. For workout tips to help you build your routine, see what our Pro Results® trainer, Kayla V., has to say about leg workouts that won’t disrupt other leg-intensive training. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today!


  1. Gamelin, F X, et al. “Effect of Training and Detraining on Heart Rate Variability in Healthy Young Men.” International Journal of Sports Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2007,

  2. Neufer, P. Darrell. “The Effect of Detraining and Reduced Training on the Physiological Adaptations to Aerobic Exercise Training.” SpringerLink, Springer International Publishing, 25 Nov. 2012,

  3. Lo, Michael S, et al. “Training and Detraining Effects of the Resistance vs. Endurance Program on Body Composition, Body Size, and Physical Performance in Young Men.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2011,

  4. Ogasawara, Riki & Yasuda, Tomohiro & Sakamaki-Sunaga, Mikako & Ozaki, Hayao & Abe, Takashi. (2011). Effects of periodic and continued resistance training on muscle CSA and strength in previously untrained men. Clinical physiology and functional imaging. 31. 399-404. 10.1111/j.1475-097X.2011.01031.x.

  5. Alfini, Alfonso J., et al. “Hippocampal and Cerebral Blood Flow after Exercise Cessation in Master Athletes.” Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 19 July 2016, 
Did I Overdo It? – Signs You Pushed Your Workout Too Hard

Did I Overdo It? – Signs You Pushed Your Workout Too Hard

To get stronger, you need to push your body to certain limits, but how can you know what those limits are? There’s no easy way to define it because everyone is different, and what you are capable of today may not be what you are capable of tomorrow. 

There are some tell-tale signs that your workout is no longer benefiting your body. The farther you push past your limits, the longer your recovery will be, and the longer you’ll need to wait before you can train again. 

Contrary to popular belief, muscle soreness is not required for muscle gain, and you don’t need to feel like a zombie to benefit from your gym session. So, let’s talk about the signs so you can better understand your limits and get the most out of your workouts.  

Pain or Discomfort While Working Out

Because they occur in the moment, these pain signals are easy to identify and are the more obvious warnings of over-exertion. Just a few examples include: 

  • Pain in your side during cardio; also known as a side-stitch 
  • Any sharp, shooting, or stabbing pains  
  • Pain while stretching, especially if your muscles are not warm 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Muscle tingling or numbness  
  • Dizziness or feeling faint 
  • Chest Pain or Pressure 
  • Nausea or vomiting 

The more dangerous potential for injury is when we do not feel anything, so we continue to exercise. So, if you experience any of the above symptoms, or any other concerning pain or discomfort, that’s a good sign you should take a break or stop. 

Pain or Discomfort After Working Out

If you didn’t feel anything while working out, and then felt like a train-wreck in the days to follow, this is your body communicating its limits, just differently. 

Take, for example, a person experiencing a sudden adrenaline rush. In fight-or-flight mode, the body is capable of incredible things. Only once the body has settled from the rush does a person finally begin to notice various aches, pains, and even more extreme damage like bone breaks or severed limbs.  

It’s possible that while you’re in the zone, pumping iron to the right song, you may not notice that you’re pushing your body just a little too far. 

What You Can Do

Sometimes, you need to be your own critic. Try to carefully monitor the following things as you work out:

  1. Your Form. Look in the mirror and double check what you know about the correct form for the exercise you’re doing. If you don’t know the correct form, ask a professional or do your research to prevent injury.

  2. Are your muscles starting to tremble? This is a sign they’re getting close to reaching their maximum level of exertion. While a little bit of that can be okay, try not to push much further past this point.


  3. Is your body unwilling to cooperate? If you just did a few great sets of weighted squats, and now your body refuses to squat without any added weight, that’s it. It’s time to call it. If your muscles feel ready to give out, you’ve probably already gone too far. 

Closing Thoughts 

Overdoing your workout doesn’t just mean going full beast-mode and overworking your body. If you’re fighting sickness, or your body is sleep-deprived and exhausted, you may be better off staying home and resting. It’s possible that while your body is trying to manage other ailments, you won’t get much out of your workout anyway. It’s the safer choice to take a break and come back when you’re feeling better.  

Always pay attention to the signs and learn your body’s limitations so you can hit the gym with confidence and energy instead of with dread. 

For some workout nutrition tips, read out article on Pre- and Post-Workout Foods, or our article on What BCAA’s Can Do for Your Workout. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Living an Active Lifestyle – For Adults with Cerebral Palsy

Living an Active Lifestyle – For Adults with Cerebral Palsy

Living an Active Lifestyle With CP

October 6th is World Cerebral Palsy Day

There is no better time than now to talk about this disorder that affects approximately 764,000 children and adults in the U.S.1

Not only will we fill you in on what it is, we’ll also share some great workout information (like how to calculate your target heart rate for cardio) that individuals who are and who are not affected by CP can apply to their routine.  

What is Cerebral Palsy?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines Cerebral Palsy as “a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.”2  There are varying degrees of severity and some variants of the disorder itself. The CDC classifies them in 4 ways: 

A person with Spastic Cerebral Palsy has muscle stiffness which may affect the legs, the legs and arms, one side of the body, or, in severe cases, the whole body. Movement appears rigid and can be labor intensive. 

A person with Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy has muscle tone that can fluctuate from being too tight and stiff, to too loose. Muscle movement is difficult to control which can make movements slower or faster than what is typical. 

A person with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy has problems with coordination and balance. Quick or precise movements can be difficult to execute. 

Mixed Cerebral Palsy occurs when a person experiences symptoms that come from more than one type of Cerebral Palsy.

Is it Possible to Both Be Active and Have Cerebral Palsy? 

Physical activity is great for the body, the heart, and the mind. This is something most of us have learned and had ingrained in our memory since childhood. With so many obstacles to free movement, you might wonder how someone with CP can exercise. 

The American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine (AACPDM) reminds us that the recommended amount of weekly cardio for adults is 150 minutes.3 They go on to say that “there is no evidence to suggest that these requirements should be any different for people with cerebral palsy.”3   

How to Be Active When Living with Cerebral Palsy

The following tips are straight from the Fact Sheet provided by the AACPDM. You can view the full document here.  

Remember that some exercises may not be safe or possible if you are experiencing certain limitations, so be sure to consult your doctor so you understand the right options for you. 

Tip #1: Do Exercises That Build Strength and Endurance 

To build muscle, you’ll need to increase the resistance, or the weight your muscles have to move. To build endurance, you’ll need to increase the repetitions, or the number of times you complete a movement. The AACPDM recommends that you should: 

  • Aim for a maximum of 10 repetitions.  
  • Start with 1 set. With time, as it becomes easier, start to increase your sets. 
  • Take at least 1 day of rest between strength training a single muscle group. 3

Tip #2: Exercise Your Heart 

To exercise your heart, you’ll need to know what your maximum heart rate is and set a goal to exercise at 40 – 85% of that maximum. Your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. 

To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. 3 For example, if you are 20 years old, (220 – 20 = 200), your maximum heart rate is 200.  

Now that you have your maximum, you can calculate the heart rate you should aim for when you do cardio. All you have to do is multiply your maximum heart rate by 40% (0.40) and then do a new calculation and multiply by 85% (0.85) instead. Don’t forget to convert the percentage into a decimal by dividing it by 100.  

For example, if your maximum heart rate is 200, you would do the following calculation: 

200 x 0.40 = 80 beats per minute 

200 x 0.85 = 170 beats per minute 

Now you know that, to effectively exercise your heart, you need to get your heart rate between 80 and 170 beats per minute.  

The AACPDM recommends that you start at a rate of 40% and increase your target rate gradually. 3

Tip #3: Work on Improving Your Range of Motion 

Improving your range of motion simply means that you are improving your flexibility. The more flexible you are, the easier it is to do common daily activities like sitting, reaching, and bending. 

The AACPDM reminds us that yoga and stretching are not the only ways to improve flexibility. Using your full range of motion while doing your strength training exercises is also a way to improve the flexibility of your muscles. 3  

They also talk about how dynamic stretches help improve the muscle’s functionality and strength.3 Dynamic stretches get your body moving and warmed-up, so they are often done before you start working out.4


The Takeaways

Living an active lifestyle is not necessarily exclusive to people of a certain level of ability. Even though Cerebral Palsy affects motor function, exercise is still possible if you respect the limitations in your movement and adhere to the guidance of your doctor.  

However, depending on the exact nature of your condition, physical activity simply may not be for you. If this is the case, don’t lose hope! Talk to your doctor to find out what you can do to still care for your health without doing harm to your body. 

For more ideas on how to move more and sit less, read our post, 6 Ways to Decrease the Time You Spend Sitting. If you’re not looking to lose weight and instead, you’re looking to put on some healthy pounds, listen to our podcast on How to Gain Healthy Weight.

To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today!


  1. “Cerebral Palsy Information.” Cerebral Palsy Guidance, 2019, 
  2. “What Is Cerebral Palsy? | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019, 
  3. “Cerebral Palsy Information.” Cerebral Palsy Guidance, The American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, 
  4. “The Benefits of Dynamic Stretching and How to Get Started.” Healthline, 



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