Nutrition & Strength Training for an Offensive Lineman

Philadelphia Eagles offensive guard Evan Mathis of Scottsdale, Arizona, focuses on offseason strength training at his facility in Scottsdale.
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An offensive lineman has the most physical role on the football field. His job in the trenches is to block defensive players to help his team run an effective offense. To achieve this goal, offensive linemen need to be big and strong. Offensive linemen in the NFL weigh between 290 and 350 pounds. Although this is certainly an advantage to their performance, it can also pose several health risks. For an offensive lineman to attain the required muscle mass while remaining athletic and healthy requires proper nutrition and a carefully planned strength-training routine.


To get big, you need to eat big. This not only means eating more food in general, but also getting your calories from healthy, nutrient-dense sources to fuel performance. Leslie Bonci, sports dietitian for the Pittsburgh Steelers, recommends eating every four hours and splitting your plate into thirds -- one third protein, one third carbs and one third fruits and vegetables. Don't skip breakfast and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Higher calorie, healthy foods such as meat, eggs, potatoes, nuts and seeds and dairy products, along with fruits and vegetables, should make up the bulk of your diet.

Health Concerns

You need to balance your food intake correctly, as overeating can be extremely detrimental to performance and health. According to a study at Ohio State University, offensive lineman are the most likely players to be obese. A 2011 New York Times article also found that retired linemen have a much higher mortality rate than the general public. Although you do need a higher calorie intake to gain muscle, you shouldn't get fat either. Adjust your calorie intake accordingly -- if you're not getting bigger and stronger, eat a little more, and if you're getting fat, cut your calorie intake slightly. If you're injured, you'll also need fewer calories, as you won't be burning them off, says Nancy Clark, author of "The Sports Nutrition Guidebook."

Starting Strength Work

Strength training can begin at around age 13 and is vital to the development of an offensive lineman. Before beginning any strength routine, consult with your team coaches and your doctor, and if you have not lifted weights before, ask an experienced trainer to help you. Start with mastering body-weight exercises such as squats, lunges, pushups and chinups, before moving on to free weights.

Strength Training Program

Perform a full body workout two to three times per week. Patrick Ivey, author of "Complete Conditioning for Football," recommends basing your sessions around the powerlifts -- squats, deadlifts and bench presses. Start your sessions with squats or deadlifts, for five sets of five repetitions. Next, perform one upper body pushing exercise, such as bench presses, shoulder presses or dips, and one upper body pulling exercise such as chinups or rows of four sets of six to eight each. Accessory work for your arms, core and other smaller body parts can be included at the end if you feel the need for it.

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