How To Train To Be As Strong As NFL Offensive Lineman Without Having To Be As Big One


Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Pure power and strength. That’s the goal when an NFL offensive lineman hits the gym and the type of weight training that they do is focused on those two traits. But if you’re performing a bodybuilding routine, then how the hell can this help you? The answer is very simple and you probably are already implementing these movements without even acknowledging the connection.

Take the flat bench press, for instance. Yeah, we all do it and so do the lineman. As a matter of fact, how many reps they can bang out with 225 pounds on the barbell is one of the main factors that they are judged by as prospects during the NFL Scouting Combine every February.

How fast a 300-plus pound player runs the 40-yard dash doesn’t mean shit to front office personnel, but benching is the litmus test on how they are going to fare in the trenches. It is a ‘push’ movement, so that can translate – at least in a preparation sense – of how hard and long an O-lineman can hold off his defensive counterpart.

We saw first-hand at the recent NFL Draft in Chicago just how important this position is to address by teams. Two of the first 10 players chosen were offensive lineman and the New York Giants factored into both. They were rumored to be very high on guard Brandon Scherff, but the Washington Redskins beat them to the punch with the fifth overall selection. The G-Men tabbed Ereck Flowers four spots later and the Miami product is expected to become an immediate starter alongside Justin Pugh, who was a first rounder himself two years ago.

The best advice that Pugh can give his new teammate is to train his ass off to ease the transition from the college ranks to the pro level. “It’s like night and day,” said Pugh. “You’re playing against guys that have been in the same system for 10 years and in college, that’s maybe two years. And you’re (also) not going up against guys like DeMarcus Ware in college.’

Now that the NFL is in its offseason, this is the perfect time for the players to get their bodies prepared for two-a-days in the sweltering training camp heat, preseason, 16 regular season and – hopefully – playoff games.

Pugh is a workout warrior year round and spends two-and-a-half-to-three hours in the gym each session. Here is an example of his five-day weekly routine, with just a sampling of the exercises listed:



Hang Cleans


Bench Press 



Chain Squats

Hang Cleans

“We also use a Tendo machine on this day, which measures the lift,” added Pugh. “And we’re always looking for a .7, .8 or higher.”


Chain Bench Press

“Our strength and conditioning coach will mix things up,” the 2013 PFWA All-Rookie Team member comments. “Maybe do some high pulls, power shrugs, incline bench press and some dumbbells movements.”

But at the end of the day, Pugh knows that there are two exercises he needs to perform over and over again to help his game, and they are hang cleans and the bench press. And as far as his max goes, he can handle 385 in both.

Never satisfied, Pugh admits, “I have to get better in my bench press this offseason.”

And now he has a new linemate to train with to help get him there.

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