An NFL Linebacker Vs. Your Grandmother

We are all humans. Sure, we all have our individual differences, but at our core, we are very much the same. Your Grandmother and an NFL linebacker are very different in a lot of ways. They are also very similar. Their exercise programs are going to look very different on the surface. However, if have a closer look and really have a look at what a human being needs to do to perform better in their sport or at life, they are going to be very much the same.

Let’s take a step away for a second.


Let’s say this linebacker takes Grandma to a nice restaurant. They sit down at the table and a menu comes out. This dinner includes four courses:







Both the linebacker and grandma are going to follow the same protocol and order off the same menu. The linebacker may order a 48 oz porterhouse and Grandma a 6oz filet – but they are both having entrees. More specifically in this example, they are both having steaks. While the Linebacker could probably eat more than the average person, Grandma is likely to eat a little less.



Grandma                                            Average Adult                                                LB



6 oz Filet                                             20 oz NY Strip                       48 oz Porterhouse




Are you with me so far?


Believe it or not, exercise programs should be designed in a very similar fashion. Everyone should be ordering off of the same menu. Everyone is going to have an appetizer, a salad, and entrée, and a dessert. A “Workout Menu” will look something like this:




Dynamic Warm-up





Every exercise program should spend some time in each of these sections. Some will spend more time in certain sections than in others depending on the individual’s goals and needs.


You may be thinking by now, “So you’re telling me Grandma needs to be lifting weights like a football player? Are you crazy?!”


Well, yes, to an extent. Something like power or strength does not come with a one-size-fits-all approach. What is considered power work (performing movements with speed) for Grandma may be far too regressed for the average adult. On the other hand, what may be considered power work for an NFL Linebacker may be far too advanced for the average adult. The key is to find out where along the spectrum we fit.


Whenever starting an exercise program, a few questions need to be answered through some sort of self-assessment or an assessment from a professional:


  1. What are the goals of the exercise program?
  2. What demands do the sport/life place on the exerciser.
  3. Does the exerciser present any movement restrictions and/or pain?



Let’s get back to Grandma and the linebacker and see how we are going to order off of the “Strength” menu. For the purpose of this exercise, we are going to only focus on the first two questions we now know need to be asked and answered.




Strength Goals: Build full body strength to improve speed, get better at fighting off blocks, and making tackles.


Sport Demands: Really big guys trying to knock him down, really fast guys trying to run away from him, high impact collisions, hundreds of high velocity, high impact ground reaction forces, etc.



Strength Exercise example: Heavy Barbell Front Squats





Strength Goals: To build full body strength to live a happy, healthy, and pain free life.


Life Demands: Risk of falling and not being able to get up, carrying groceries, sitting and standing without help.


Strength Exercise example: Sit and stand to a bench/box.



Both examples have programs that include strength exercises. Both programs include a variation of a squat. The difference between the exercises we decided to select depends on the individual, the goals, and the demands placed on them in their life or sport.


Let’s go back to our dinner. On one end of the spectrum we had Grandma with her 6oz Filet. On the other end, we had the big bad linebacker taking down a 48oz Porterhouse. You and I were hanging out somewhere between the two with a 20 oz. Strip. I like to look at exercise selection along the same spectrum. Let’s look at some examples for each section of our “Workout Menu”.



Grandma                                                   You                                                        LB





6 oz Filet                                           20 oz NY Strip                      48 oz Porterhouse 







Self Massage                                      Self Massage                                                Self Massage



Get up and down from ground       Hip Mobility             Advanced Hip Mobilizations









Brisk Walk                                          Jump Rope            Skipping/Bounding/Sprinting






Light Medicine Ball Toss                Medicine Ball Slam                              Hurdle Jumps







Wall Push-up                                          Push-up                                       Bench Press







DB Carry                                       Bike Sprint Intervals                 Heavy Sled Sprints






Whether you are an 80-year old woman or an elite professional athlete, human movement is human movement. We are all human beings (I hope) therefore we are all eating at at the same restaurant. We all are ordering off of the same menu. We all are in need of a well-rounded meal. The difference between the food we decide order will come down to what we like, what we want, and what we need.

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