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Anchor Strength: Holding the Line Against Bull Rushes

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Anchor Strength: Holding the Line Against Bull Rushes

Anchor strength is a critical asset for any football player, especially those in the trenches. Defensive linemen and offensive linemen alike need to withstand powerful bull rushes from their opponents. Building anchor strength requires a combination of core exercises, leg strength, and mastering a proper stance. This article dives deep into the techniques and training methods to help players hold the line.

Core Exercises

A strong core provides the foundational stability needed to anchor against heavy rushes. Here are some essential core exercises:

Planks and Variations

The plank is a staple for core strength. Variations like side planks and plank-to-push-ups add complexity and help build endurance in the core muscles.

PlankHold a push-up position with a straight body for 30+ seconds
Side PlankSupport the body on one forearm, holding a side bridge
Plank-to-Push-UpTransition from elbow plank to high plank and back down

Russian Twists

This exercise targets the obliques, crucial for stability during lateral movements and engagements.

  • Instructions: Sit on the floor, lean back slightly, and lift your feet off the ground. Hold a weight or medicine ball and twist your torso from side to side.

Dead Bugs

Dead bugs focus on maintaining core tension and coordination, crucial for sustaining a strong anchor.

  • Instructions: Lie on your back with your arms extended to the ceiling and legs in a tabletop position. Lower one arm and the opposite leg while keeping your back flat on the floor. Return to the start and repeat on the other side.

Leg Strength

Powerful legs are non-negotiable for holding ground. Building leg strength involves compound movements and explosive exercises.


The squat is paramount for quad, glute, and hamstring development.

  • Types of Squats:
    • Back Squat: Traditional squat with a barbell on your traps.
    • Front Squat: Barbell rests on your deltoids, promoting a more upright torso.
    • Goblet Squat: Holding a kettlebell or dumbbell, ideal for beginners.
Back SquatBarbell positioned on back shoulders, descend to parallel or below
Front SquatBarbell on front shoulders, keep chest up, descend to parallel
Goblet SquatHold a weight in front, squat down to parallel or below, upright


Deadlifts build overall strength, especially in the posterior chain (back, glutes, hamstrings).

  • Instructions: With feet hip-width apart and hands gripping the bar outside your knees, maintain a flat back while lifting the bar to hips and standing up.

Lunge Variations

Lunges develop unilateral leg strength, important for balance and power.

Proper Stance

Stance is crucial for providing a solid base against any level of rush.

Offensive Line Stance

  • Feet Position: Shoulder-width apart, staggered with one foot slightly back.
  • Hips and Core: Hinge at the hips, engage the core.
  • Hands: Hands ready to punch or grip.

Defensive Line Stance

  • Feet Position: Balanced stance, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  • Body Alignment: Hips low, shoulders over knees.
  • Hands: Ready to strike and engage the blocker.

Putting It All Together

Developing anchor strength is about integrating core stability, leg power, and stance mastery. A well-rounded training program should incorporate:

  • Regular core workouts (3-4 times per week)
  • Leg-strengthening exercises (squats, deadlifts, lunges) 2-3 times per week
  • Technique drills focusing on proper stance and engagement.

By combining these elements, players can build the robust anchor strength needed to dominate their position and hold the line against even the fiercest bull rushes.

Feel free to reach out with any questions or further tips on this topic. Train hard, stay strong, and hold the line!