Energy Systems in Football

I found an interesting quote from Tom Mylanski about training football players and energy systems that I thought might interest you guys. He was talking about the Browns new S&C coach and a program that they had just completed. On one day he said that they were to run 3 300 yard shuttles as fast as they could which according to him was nuts because football players are alactic and aerobic athletes.

OK, that comment confused the heck out of me because I was always told that football players were anaerobic athletes. Can anyone explain this to me and tell me how it changes the way that football players should be trained?

“Football players are alactic and aerobic athletes” is correct. Charlie has been saying this for over a decade. There is NO anaerobic lactic component at all.

How does it change the way football players should be trained? Well, get rid of wind sprints or gassers. Limit the distance of the speed drills to under 35m for backs and 55m for players on the line (buy the Vancouver 2004 Seminar DVD and this will be explained in far more detail). :slight_smile:

For the aerobic component use Tempo workouts.

My general rule of thumb (which I am pretty sure I got from Charlie) is that for guys over 200 pounds, all the tempo distances get cut in half. Here is an example of a short tempo circuit for a football (American Football) player over 200 pounds in body weight:
(50+50+50 Tempo)+ 100m walk
(50+100+50 Tempo)+ 100m Walk
(50+50+50 Tempo)+ 100m Walk.

This may seem like nothing, but if you get a 290 pound player running the 50m in 8 seconds and the 100m in 16 seconds (which is fast and for beginners I would go around 10 seconds for the 50m and 20 sec for the 100m), the athlete will get a good workout. Afterwards I usually do ab work of some sort, either with MedBall or without. A good DVD for this is the GPP ESSENTIALS.


What is alactic energy? How are football players aerobic/alactic? Could you please explain the why to me a little bit more?


alactic = without lactic acid. In otherwords, it is high intensity work that is stopped before lactic acid is needed for the body to continue at the high intensity, or from 0-7 seconds of high intensity work. At any one time during a game, when does a player work over 7 seconds in a play?

Herb, thanks for all of the help.

What do you mean by the (50+50+50) stuff for tempo? I know what tempo is but I thought you just picked a distance (like 40 yards) run it at less than 75% (for no faster than about 7 seconds for me) and then take a short rest period (less than 30s right?) or you could do a little GPP in between reps or sets.

Thank for the reasoning on the why football players are alactic. It certianly makes sense. Do the sprints with full recovery address conditoning this system or do you need to control the rest intervals to get sufficent conditoining through this.

Could you give me the same explenation of why football players are areobic athletes as you did with alactic?

Thanks for all of the help man. I’m trying to figure out the best way to train football players in the offseason so that they are ready to go for training camp.

From coach H at

"Here are some averages per play based on our research that may help you

Average plays per game - 75
Average series per game - 15
Average plays per series - 5
Average time per play 4.8 seconds
Average time per play special teams 7.6 seconds
Average rest time between plays - no time outs
34.5 seconds
Average time between offensive and defensive series 6-7 minutes."

I believe the aerobic component is due to the rest intervals. It looks like football is in the 1:7 work:rest ratio.

4.8 sec play = alactic/ATP-CP
34.5 sec rest = aerobic metabolism

Lotsa rest means that you are relying on aerobic metabolism to regenerate substrate stores. A well developed aerobic system means that you will be able to replenish ATP-CP energy system throughtout the game without ever having to rely on the glycolytic energy pathway.


hope that made sense

How can a rest interval make an athelete aerboic? I thought that for the aerobic energy to kick on that an event had to have continous action for more than 2 minutes. So wouldn’t the anaerobic still be dominant in football? Also, how do tempo runs address the aerobic system? Wouldn’t a player who was doing tempo in 40 yard increments still be addressing his anaerboic system because the event would still be less than 7-8 seconds?

The aerobic system is going to improve recovery ability. You’re either going fast, or you’re not.