Tempos for Football Conditioning

What are the best ways to condition a football player? I know that Charlie has advocated tempo runs as a form of conditioning for footbal players but I don’t really understand why they would work. A football player goes hard for a few seconds then rests for 35 seconds. With that being said wouldn’t a football player want to use short sprints and agility drills to get in shape for the season to adress the proper energy system? But if this method was used wouldn’t it be too stressfull on the CNS, especially if used with lifting?

After all of that what do you guys think is the best way to get football players in shape and ready to play?

all tempo runs are, are semi sprints no more than 70-75% intensity…i play reciever…i usually do 100 yards…walk back…do some push ups, sit-ups. repeat

they raise ur training capacity…they work well to help ur body recover from more intense workouts…they arent meant to break the body down…short high intensity sprints and agility drills(much must be performed at 100%) will break down the body.

But get like a total amount of yardage you think would be appropriate for u…and run that distance…jus to get the blood flowin thruout the body

Dont for get that most team sports have a large general endurance element to them. Even thoough you are sprinting when your play is going on, you still have to last for the whole game. Also, tempo provides some cardio conditioning with out killing your speed and power. It also provides recovery for the body after a stressfull work out.

You need to lift/sprint/practice your position and do tempo to get in shape…

I used to think the same way Buckeye, but tempo runs will improve your performance by leaps and bounds. Your work capacity and recovery will be greatly improved.

With regards to the different positions in football, there is a huge difference between the volume of tempo for a lineman and the volume of tempo for a receiver. I’d guess maybe 1000m for a lineman and 2000m for a receiver. The heavier the player, the more taxing tempo is.

Tempo volume is based on volume of sprints. So a sprinter would do 35%/65% sprints/tempo, while a soccer player would do 20%/80%. I’mm guessing a football player would want to do something in between these ratios

Sprinting in the GPP counts as conditioning work, but you can’t sprint every day, so tempo runs fit nicely on off days.

Any other guidelines as to how often tempo runs could be used during a week in conjunction with strength training?

Do your tempo runs in between your high intensity sprinting/lifting days. They not only help build work capacity but will enhance recoevery as well. Just make sure to keep them at <75% so they are building you up and not tearing you down.

As far as how often, probably not more than 3 or 4 sessions a week. I think Charlie recommends as much as 6000m/week for top sprinters. Football players (esp big guys) probably need to look at smaller volumes.

I was thinking about 3-4 per week but I had my trainees (wife, daughter, and nephew) going up to 80% - too intense?

80% falls into that no mans land. Too slow for speed development, hard enough to interfere with recovery

I’m pretty ignorant to this type of training obviously. What sort of training would 80% work be good for?

76-94% of best time is too slow to be specific for speed and too high to recover from in 24 hours so those intensities are not used in CFTS

wow this is news to me. Say I am doing tempo runs for 2 sets of 5 reps of 100m and I run the 100m in 12.8 seconds each attempt at 75% would need to be run in 16 secs.

Ok, so everyone seems to think that tempos are the way to go for a football player to get ready for the season. I have a couple questions concerning their setup

1 - I was searching through the old posts and Football Coach had a program set up where he had his athletes doing pattern runs (which I understand is a form of metabolic conditoning) prior to his tempos. Is this a good idea, particuraly for football players, or is it too much?

2- Would it be ok to add in some GPP stuff (bodyweight, med ball tosses, strongman) on these days in between sprints or sets or even at the very end, like a finisher? If so, how would it be best to set this up?

3- So what is everyone’s feelings on the traditional conditoning runs (300 shuttles, 100 yards shuttles, 150yd shuttles, gassers, sprints etc.)? Do they have a place in programs or are they outdated?

thanks for all of the help guys.

  1. Yes, but it depends on how far away you are from the start of the season.

  2. Sprint and med balls on one day. Unless the med ball throws are for high rep and low intensity. Strongman should be on another day. Bodyweight and tempo on another day.

  3. Shuttles and gasers are ok for the occaisonal willpower workout for the younger athlete. Should be a small percentage of the training schedule. Probably could be eliminated all together.

Thomas, how far out from the season should these (pattern runs) be implemented?

Buck, several factors come into play here.

I cannot speak for Football Coach but I believe he refered to pattern runs for recievers and perhaps backs that caught the ball out of the backfield. Now,

  1. The patterns could be run now if you are unfamiliar with them or you are a slow learner or the offense is very complex with check offs and the like. Three times a week if you are not involved in any other sport activity. Learn the routes and the offense. Start off with 15 min worth and work up to an 45 min. Make sure someone is throwing a ball to you as well.

  2. If you know the patterns then you can begin to “refresh” your memory two times a week from late July till camp begins in mid-August. No more than three weeks. It’s imperative that someone is throwing you the ball at this time. A typical week would look like this:

S - Off
M - Speed
T - Patterns @ 70%
W - Tempo
Th - Speed
F - Off
S - Patterns @ 70%

This is generally speaking of course. We can make a training schedule for you with more information about yourself.

  1. When you get to camp its a crap shoot because I don’t know what your coach will have you do.

Thomas, I really like your sample week and I think I’ll be using that as a base this summer before fall camp, so thanks a lot for that. However, I do have a question. When you report to fall camp the first week or so the coaches always seem intent on making you as tired as possible (conditioning, gassers, shuttle runs, etc.), and I know that you stated that these kinds of runs have no place in a training program, but at some point you have to train for these runs in order to survive fall camp. So how would you go about doing this? Is tempo really so powerful as to be able to provide you with the ability to run the conditioning circuits they have you do? Or would it be better to maybe have one conditioning day in each week to prepare for camp specifically. Maybe…

Mon: Speed, Patterns, Weights
Tue: Tempo
Wed: Off
Thu: Speed, Patterns, Weights
Fri: Tempo
Sat: Conditioning Circuits, Weights
Sun: Off

Mr. C, I would try to stick with the template that I wrote of. You may want to have a couple of, what I call “willpower” runs once or twice before camp opens. I write this only because you want to experience what those runs feel like again. Your legs should be used to the accelerations and deccelerations from the pattern runs so joints and soft tissue should be fine. Most of these riduculous runs are never at 100% so you’ll be fine. I think if you stick to the template you’ll go into camp in great shape, however, those “suicide” runs or shuttles are only for a couple or three weeks. They are not neccessary to train for if you stick with the template. They only have to “gutted” out. The template prepares you for football not gassers.
In my experience, just finish the runs, you’ll be in great condition and take cold bath afterwards for up to 20 min. On game day, coaches will have the players in the game that can put points up or keep the opponents points off the scoreboard not who finishes on time in a gasser. Football coaches talk tough, but on game day they turn into kittens who’ll play anyone to get them a win.


In patterns do you mean pass patterns? And why at only 70%??

GenetikFreak, could be pass patterns or just whatever running movements you perform in the game.

Refering to pass patterns you usually don’t run them at 100% speed in a game. Probably around 85-90%. As you enter camp you’ll pick the speed up running these routes. From the middle of August until the first game you should running routes, catching balls and having defenders on you, at or slighty faster than game speed.

At 70% speed, this is fast enough just to rehearsh the movements of the game without the hard decelerations that beat up your joints and connective tissue and decrease your ability to recover.

Remember, most importantly, you want to have fresh legs going into season. I’ve seen far too many athletes who run themselves into the ground in June, July and August and are rehabbing overuse injuries before the third game of the season.

Football will give you plenty of acute injuries. Don’t create more by overtraining.