10 Best Exercises for Aussie Rules Players: Building Elite Performance

Australian Rules Football (AFL) demands a unique combination of strength, speed, agility, and endurance from its players. To excel in this high-intensity sport, athletes must undergo a comprehensive training regimen that targets the specific physical attributes required for success. Here are the 10 best exercises for Aussie Rules players, along with detailed instructions, muscle targets, recommended sets and reps, and the results you can expect from incorporating them into your training program.

1. Squats:

  • How to Perform: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, a barbell resting on your upper back. Lower your body by bending your hips and knees, keeping your chest up and your back straight. Descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then push through your heels to return to the starting position.
  • Muscle Targets: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
  • Sets/Reps: 4 sets of 6-8 reps.
  • Results: Enhanced leg strength for powerful sprinting, tackling, and jumping abilities.

2. Deadlifts:

  • How to Perform: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, a barbell in front of you. Bend at your hips and knees to lower your body and grasp the barbell with an overhand grip. Lift the bar by extending your hips and standing up straight.
  • Muscle Targets: Hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and grip strength.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
  • Results: Improved lower body strength and explosive power for tackles and ground contests.

3. Bench Press:

  • How to Perform: Lie on a bench with your feet flat on the floor. Grasp the barbell with a wide grip and lower it to your chest. Push the barbell back up until your arms are fully extended.
  • Muscle Targets: Chest, shoulders, and triceps.
  • Sets/Reps: 4 sets of 6-8 reps.
  • Results: Increased upper body strength for handballing, marking, and pushing through opponents.

4. Pull-Ups:

  • How to Perform: Hang from a pull-up bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull your body up until your chin is over the bar, then lower yourself back down.
  • Muscle Targets: Back, biceps, and shoulders.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
  • Results: Enhanced upper body strength for marking and tackling.

5. Lunges:

  • How to Perform: Stand with your feet together, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Step forward with one leg and lower your body until both knees are bent at 90-degree angles. Push back to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.
  • Muscle Targets: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, and hip stabilizers.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 10 reps per leg.
  • Results: Improved leg strength, balance, and agility.

6. Box Jumps:

  • How to Perform: Stand in front of a sturdy box or platform. Jump onto the box, landing softly with your knees slightly bent. Step down and repeat.
  • Muscle Targets: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, and explosive power.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
  • Results: Enhanced explosive power and jumping ability.

7. Core Exercises (Planks, Russian Twists, Leg Raises):

  • How to Perform:
    • Planks: Hold a push-up position with your elbows on the ground and your body in a straight line.
    • Russian Twists: Sit on the ground, lean back slightly, and twist your torso to touch the ground on each side.
    • Leg Raises: Lie on your back, lift your legs off the ground, and raise them toward the ceiling.
  • Muscle Targets: Core muscles including abs, obliques, and lower back.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 10-15 reps for each exercise.
  • Results: Improved core strength for stability and balance during tackles and contests.

8. Sprints:

  • How to Perform: Sprint at maximum effort over short distances (20-50 meters).
  • Muscle Targets: Entire lower body and cardiovascular system.
  • Sets/Reps: 6-8 sets of 20-50 meter sprints.
  • Results: Enhanced speed and aerobic fitness for breaking away from opponents.

9. Shuttle Runs:

  • How to Perform: Set up cones or markers in a straight line 20 meters apart. Sprint from one marker to the other, touch the ground, and sprint back.
  • Muscle Targets: Speed, agility, and cardiovascular fitness.
  • Sets/Reps: 5 sets of 10 shuttle runs.
  • Results: Improved agility and conditioning for rapid direction changes during play.

10. Medicine Ball Throws:

  • How to Perform: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a medicine ball at chest height. Explosively throw the ball against a wall or to a partner.
  • Muscle Targets: Rotational power, core strength, and upper body explosiveness.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 8-10 throws.
  • Results: Enhanced rotational strength for handballing, kicking, and quick direction changes.

Incorporating these 10 exercises into your training program will help you build the strength, power, agility, and endurance necessary to excel in Aussie Rules Football. Remember to maintain proper form, gradually increase the intensity, and stay consistent with your workouts to achieve the best results and dominate on the field.


What exercises are essential for Aussie Rules Football players?

Essential exercises for AFL players include squats, deadlifts, bench presses, pull-ups, lunges, core exercises, sprints, shuttle runs, box jumps, and medicine ball throws. These exercises help build strength, power, agility, and conditioning.

How can squats and deadlifts benefit AFL players?

Squats and deadlifts target the lower body muscles, including quads, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. They enhance leg strength for sprinting, tackling, and jumping.

Why are core exercises crucial for AFL players?

Core exercises, such as planks, Russian twists, and leg raises, improve core strength, stability, and balance. A strong core is essential for maintaining body control during tackles and contests.

What are the advantages of incorporating sprints into training?

Sprinting improves speed, explosiveness, and cardiovascular fitness. It helps players break away from opponents and cover ground quickly during matches.

How do shuttle runs enhance agility in AFL players?

Shuttle runs involve rapid direction changes, which are common in Aussie Rules. These drills improve agility, conditioning, and the ability to change direction quickly during play.

What role do medicine ball throws play in AFL training?

Medicine ball throws enhance rotational power, core strength, and upper body explosiveness. They are beneficial for skills like handballing, kicking, and quick direction changes.

How often should AFL players perform strength and conditioning exercises?

AFL players typically perform strength and conditioning exercises multiple times a week, with variations in intensity throughout the season. The off-season may involve more intensive strength training, while the in-season focuses on maintenance.

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