What Muscles Should a Defensive Lineman Workout?


There is an old adage in sports that the best offense is a good defense. Well, in the sport of American football, the linemen form a very important part of that defense. If you're a lineman, you must spend time in the gym strengthening muscles like your pectoralis major, rectus abdominis and hamstrings. Training these muscles is vital to increasing your defensive performance on the gridiron, including the speed and power of your tackles.

Upper Body

  • Football is a very rugged sport, and as a defensive lineman, you are required to do a lot of pushing and pulling to get past the offensive line and to the quarterback. To increase your pushing strength, you must train your pectoralis major and triceps muscles. The bench press is the king of all exercises to work these muscle groups simultaneously. You should perform the bench press using either a barbell or dumbbells and do the exercise at a variety of angles, including incline, flat and decline.


  • As in all sports, having a strong core is integral for maximizing your performance come game day. If you weight train, chances are you are already doing crunches and situps for your rectus abdominis, oblique and hip flexor muscles. But your core comprises other muscles you may not be aware of. These muscles include the spinal erectors and the quadratus lumborum. To strengthen the former, perform the hyperextension exercise holding a weight against your chest. This exercise requires access to a hyperextension bench. You position your thighs on the bench, hold the weight across your chest and lean forward at the torso as much as possible. Then, you extend your hips and spine as you lean back up to the starting position. As for the quadratus lumborum muscle, you should do the side bend holding a dumbbell in each hand. When you perform crunches and situps, hold a weight over your chest to add more resistance to these exercises and further challenge your core muscles to adapt and become stronger.

Lower Body

  • The lower half of your body is just as important as the upper half and core when it comes to being a defensive lineman. If you don't have strong and explosive legs, the offensive line will have no problem knocking you on your backside and zooming by you. So you must train your legs just just as hard as you do the rest of your body. The muscles you need to focus on are the quadriceps femoris and hamstrings. Back squats and deadlifts should make up the meat of your leg workouts. You can do several variations of these exercises, including front squats and straight-leg deadlifts to further work your quadriceps femoris and hamstrings.

Workout Tips

  • You can train your entire body during a single workout or split your routine up into upper-body, core and lower-body workouts. Perform three or four exercises per workout and do three sets of eight to 12 reps for your upper and lower body. As for your core, utilize a higher rep range of between 15 and 30 reps.

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