Exercises For Defensive Backs.

This article is for the defensive back and other athletes that are looking for a workout program to improve quickness and agility.

This article addresses the following question:A teammate of mine recently showed me the workout for lineman that you recommended on this site. I am a defensive back and was curious if you could put together a workout for us too?

That's a great question and one which comes up often. In fact, this is a great time of year to concern yourself with training and improving since you are not in the midst of the competitive season. Training is just one component of the entire picture, but here's a program that I have found to be successful with defensive backs and even other athletes where quickness and agility are important.

Of course don't forget about the important of nutrition; consider your body like a bicycle. There are two tires that both need to work together. Nutrition is one tire and training is the other. If you have a flat tire on your bike, you can get from point A to point B, but not efficiently. If both are flat, in this case meaning both training and diet are poor, you'll really struggle to get the endpoint. The key is to have both working simultaneously for optimal performance.

Conditioning & Nutrition For Football.
The following is designed to address these issues and respond to questions that I thought may be of interest to football athletes and coaches alike ...
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Therefore, let's consider some training suggestions. As a defensive back you want strength and quickness, two things that many folks don't necessarily put together. Don't waste your time with single jointed movements (bicep curls, tricep pushdowns, leg extensions, etc).

Exercises For Strength & Quickness

Concentrate on multi-joint movements that really work a number of muscles simultaneously. I'm talking squats, deadlifts, dips, flat and incline bench press, standing military press, cleans, pullups, etc. You also want to incorporate some sport-specific moves and work in some functional training too.

For this period of workouts, break them up into 3-day splits; so aside from other cross-training type workouts, you essentially have three "rest" days from resistance training.

Since we're going primarily for strength and speed in this cycle, you want to keep the weight and reps moderate (around 6-10 or so). It's always important to focus on absolute perfect form to reduce the risk of injury. I also want you to focus on lifting the bar quickly, but lowering the bar slowly. For example, on a squat, use an explosive push to get the weight up, but lower under control. And no matter what the movement, your body is not a springboard so do not bounce the weight.


  • Medium Stance Squats (going as low as possible with perfect form) - 3 sets of 8 reps.

  • Walking Lunges With A Barbell On Your Back (or dumbbells in your hand if there's not room in your gym to be walking around with a barbell) - walk until you get 12 reps on each leg.

  • Single Leg Squats With Body Weight (if available, do these standing on hard foam or one of those stability discs) - 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg (these can be performed inside a squat rack if you need to hold onto something).
  • Finish the workout by running bleachers if available. Run up and down consistently for 5 minutes and rest a minute. Repeat this circuit 3 times or until your legs collapse like wet spaghetti noodles. Remember, though, your competitor is out there finishing his circuit.

  • No resistance training. Do light activity for active recovery.

  • Dips - 4 sets of 10 (using additional weight if necessary).

  • Pushups With Hands On Two Medicine Balls - 4 sets of 12.

  • Dumbbell Incline Press - 3 sets of 6.

  • Standing Military Press (or pushup military press if advanced-this is where you are in a handstand position, with a partner holding your feet or against a wall) - 3 sets of 8.

  • Finish the workout by running bleachers (if available). Run up and down consistently for 5 minutes and rest a minute. Repeat this circuit 3 times or until your legs collapse like wet spaghetti noodles. Remember, though, your competitor is out there finishing his circuit. If not available, repeat sprint workout from Monday.


  • Rest


  • Medium Stance Deadlifts (If possible, find a block that is low enough so when 45-pound plates are on either end of the barbell, the bar doesn't touch the box. Perform the deadlifts using this box. This will give you an additional range of motion where you would otherwise be limited.) - 3 sets of 6.

  • Close Grip Chinups (palms facing you) - 5 sets of 8 reps with bodyweight (using additional weight if necessary).

  • Barbell Rows With Overhand Grip - 3 sets of 8.

  • Follow a sprint workout outlined in a previous article.

Sat & Sun

  • Keep active these two days, just don't perform specific resistance training movements.

Basic Principles To Keep In Mind

This is a general program that can help build strength. There are obviously a million programs and exercises that work.

Second, the program (or any) should be changed every 3-4 weeks, depending on how your body is adapting.

Third, do not forget to stretch.

You cannot recover unless you eat properly. This workout will beat you up pretty good; make sure you are refueling your body properly.

Lastly, get enough sleep.

Put all of these together and you should see some nice improvements. Keep in mind that you should never sacrifice weight for form; if you can't lift the weight safely without jerking your body in every direction, you shouldn't be lifting that much weight. As always, check your ego at the door and impress your friends with your performance and ability on the field.