8 Exercises to Strengthen the Essential Muscle Groups

While much of the advances in strength and conditioning equipment have dramatically improved current athlete's strength, speed and agility, there are still basic bodyweight movement exercises that can improve an athlete's performance. Bigger and more expensive is not always better.

This article will focus on eight bodyweight resistance exercises that will train the essential muscles in the  body. No membership, travel or fancy equipment is needed for these exercises.


1. Push-Ups

An "oldie but a goodie." This exercise, when performed correctly - with the elbows close to the trunk and no arching of the lower back - is a great upper body and core strengthening exercise. To build increased muscles size, perform four to five sets of 15 reps. If power is desired, more weight than your body might be needed, so a weighted vest may be used to increase the intensity of the movement. To improve power, three to four sets of five to six reps is the target. There should be total fatigue at the fifth or sixth rep. If there is not, increased intensity/weight will be needed.

2. Matrix Multi-Angle Lunges

The matrix multi-angle lunge is a combination of three different lunges. This exercise will strengthen the leg muscles to help improve movements in all directions. First is a lunge to the front, then to the side and then lunge backwards as if you're turning to chase someone. Perform six lunges in each direction for three sets. If body weight is too easy, grab some dumbbells or use a weight vest.

3. Tricep Chair Dips

This exercise will strengthen the triceps, which are critical in football because they assist in blocking, throwing and many other fundamental skills. In this exercise, start with your hands on a chair, knees bent and feet on the ground. Gradually lower the body down toward the floor while bending the elbows. Then, while pushing into the chair, return back to the starting position. Attempt three sets of 10 reps.

Bodyweight exercises are an excellent way to safely and effectively strengthen your muscles. Many times, being able to control one's own body weight first before going to traditional weights is one of the most important foundational steps in a proper strength program.

Even though "well-adorned" workout facilities are full of equipment, do not forget the best original strength building equipment is your own body.

4. Single-Leg Squat

This drill will develop leg power to help improve speed on the field. Begin by standing on one leg in front of a sturdy chair then slowly lower the hips down to the seat of the chair. Gently touch the chair with the hips and then return back to the starting standing position. Attempt three sets of eight reps.

5. Side Ups

This exercise is a challenge for your hip muscles. This exercise targets the hip muscles that assist in lateral speed and agility. To perform this drill, lie on one side and separate the legs from each other (about a foot). Then, only using the lower forearm that is in contact with the ground for support, lift the hip off the ground and rise up as high as possible. Then return back down to the floor in a slow, rhythmic fashion. Furthermore, maintain the one-foot distance between the legs consistent throughout the entire movement. Perform three sets of 10 reps on each side.

6. Planking

It is all about the endurance and putting your muscles to the test. Planking is a famous exercise in which you lay horizontally on the floor with your forearms and toes being the only points that actually touch the floor. You should keep your body in parallel with the floor and after only a few seconds you the tension will swarm across your entire body. You can boost the effects by flexing your abdominal muscles and prolonging the time in this stance.

Before doing any of these exercises check with a medical professional if you are able to perform them all correctly. Some of these exercises can put a lot of strain on your joints, particularly knees and ankles. Exercise responsibly and don’t forget to take full, long breaths while working out.

7. Clock Lunge

Time for a challenge. Complete a traditional forward lunge, then take a big step to the right and lunge again. Finish off the semicircle with a backwards lunge, then return to standing. And all that’s one rep! Aim for 10 reps and then switch legs.

8. Speed Demon Sprinter Sit-up

Want to be a speed demon without getting off the floor? Lie on your back with the legs straight and arms by your side—elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Now sit up, bringing the left knee toward the right elbow. Lower the body and repeat on the other side.