NFL Von Miller Linebacker Workout for Speed & Explosiveness

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: June 21, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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As the heart of the defense, linebackers are expected to be reactive.

And being one requires two things: speed and strength.

To train like a linebacker, you should follow workout routines that promote functional movement of the upper body, lower body, and core. It also involves doing conditioning and agility drills regularly.

If you want to achieve maximum agility and explosiveness, here’s a linebacker workout you can add to your training regimen.

Linebacker Training: Von Miller's High-Intensity Football Workout

von miller running outdoors

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, known for his exceptional NFL performance, combines rigorous gym training with strategic mental preparation.

His standout speed, evident in a 4.49-second 40-yard dash at 6’3 and 250 pounds, results from intense daily workouts during the offseason.

As a performance coach, I've witnessed similar commitment in clients, leading to notable athletic improvements.

Miller's training includes injury prevention for key areas like knees and shoulders and mental techniques like visualization.

His success is also supported by a diet rich in protein, carbs, and proper hydration, essential for any aspiring linebacker.

Instructions

We've put together the NFL star's off-season workout plan for the average gym-goer and the pattern he follows.

This off-season conditioning workout is meant to be done as a circuit. You can take 30-second rests between exercises if needed, but you can also skip it like Miller.

Before we even get to it, remember to start with warm-up workouts. According to WebMD, warm ups can help prevent the likelihood of an injury, among other benefits [1].

Let's get to it.

Dumbbell Squats

dumbbell squat

Pattern: 3 sets per workout | 10 reps per set

How To

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes slightly facing out.
  2. Hold the dumbbells at your sides.
  3. Squat down low until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  4. Exhale and return to the starting position, pushing off your heels.

Why Do It

This exercise targets multiple lower body muscles, including hamstrings, quads, glutes, and lower back.

As a health and performance coach, I advise starting with manageable weights and progressing to heavier ones as your strength increases.

Such functional workouts are crucial for athletes like Miller, enhancing field performance and maintaining power and speed in dynamic situations.

Dumbbell Flat Bench Press

Dumbbell Flat Bench Press

Pattern: 3 sets per workout | 8 reps each set

How To

  1. Lie down on a flat bench and hold a dumbbell in each of your hands.
  2. Rest them on your thighs with your palms facing each other.
  3. Begin by holding the dumbbells in front of you shoulder-width apart.
  4. Rotate your wrists forward so that your palms are facing away from you.
  5. Lower the weight down to the side of your chest, forming a 90-degree angle with your arms.
  6. Push one dumbbell up, then lock your arm at the top of the motion.
  7. Hold for a second before bringing it down again.

Why Do It

This exercise targets your pecs, triceps, and deltoids.

From my coaching experience, I've found that this exercise is essential for athletes, especially football players, to develop the upper body strength needed for intense physical confrontations on the field.

This helps Miller with pushing motions, which is crucial for when he needs to shove his way past an offensive lineman.

"Linebacker is a lot more detail-oriented, and you have to know a lot more than a defensive end necessarily would on any given play."

- Justin Cole, Retired American Football Linebacker

Incline Dumbbell Rows

Incline Dumbbell Row

Pattern: 3 sets per workout | 12 reps each set

How To

  1. Set the incline of a bench to a 30 or 45-degree angle.
  2. Lie down with your chest flat on the bench.
  3. Holding a dumbbell in each of your hands, push your shoulder blades back and row the weights to your side.
  4. Pause briefly at the top of the movement before returning to the starting position.

Why Do It

This exercise will work your middle back muscles and your biceps, shoulders, forearms, and lats.

Many of my clients have benefited from this exercise, noting improvements in their back strength and posture, which is crucial for athletes in contact sports.

Dumbbell Lateral Raises with Dropsets

Dumbbell Lateral Raises

Pattern: 3 reps - 30 pounds,  4 reps - 25 pounds, 5 reps - 20 pounds, 6 reps - 30 pounds

How To

  1. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
  3. Raise your arms out to your sides until they get to shoulder level.
  4. Hold the lift momentarily, then lower your arms.
  5. Repeat with lighter weight, following the recommended reps for each.
  6. Make sure you don’t bend your elbows or swing the weights violently.

Why Do It

This exercise stabilizes your shoulders and works your deltoids. Also, gradually decreasing the weight and increasing the reps can help build muscle growth.

Upper body strength is crucial for linebackers who often push against heavier players to get to running backs and quarterbacks.

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift With Cable To Row

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift To Row

Pattern: 6 sets per workout | 8 reps each leg

How To

  1. Stand straight with your left hand on the cable.
  2. Slowly bend down and lift your left leg behind you.
  3. When the weight gets below your knee, move back up into the initial position.
  4. As you stand back up, bring your left elbow back and pull your left arm in toward your chest to row.
  5. Do the same movements if you’re using a dumbbell, but hold it in the hand you’d be holding the cable.

Why Do It

This exercise builds lower body muscle. In my coaching practice, I've used this exercise to help clients correct strength imbalances and enhance their stability, which is particularly beneficial for dynamic sports like football.

Medicine Ball Russian Twist

Medicine Ball Russian Twist

Pattern: 3 sets per workout | 15-20 twists each round

How To

  1. Assume a sit-up pose and concentrate your weight on your hips.
  2. Lean back so that your torso is at a 45-degree angle with the floor.
  3. Hold a medicine ball, a dumbbell, or a weight plate straight in front of you.
  4. Twist your upper body from side to side as far as you can.

Why Do It

This exercise, suitable for solo or partner workouts, fortifies the core, abs, lower back, and obliques, essential for football players' tackling abilities.

My experience as a performance coach confirms that strong obliques improve flexibility and rotational power, key for linebackers' swift directional shifts on the field.

Partner exercises count each pass as a rep, introducing a dynamic aspect to the training.

Cardio Interval Exercise

working out machines inside a gym

Pattern: 20-25 seconds on a Cybex Arc Trainer* set at Level 70

How To:

  1. Set the machine at a level you’re comfortable with and go as hard as you can for the recommended time.
  2. If you want to lower the intensity, you can lengthen the duration of the exercise to make the workout more challenging.

Why Do It

Intense cardio training efficiently burns calories and is crucial for linebackers needing quick power bursts, like Miller.

In my coaching experience, focusing on cardio significantly enhances players' game performance.

If an arc trainer isn't available, a stationary bike or elliptical machine works well.

Additionally, integrating recovery strategies such as sufficient sleep and rest days is essential for muscle repair and peak performance, particularly in demanding roles like linebackers.


References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/benefits-of-warmup-exercises
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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