How to Do the Heisman Exercise for Championship-Level Cardio and Agility

How to Do the Heisman Exercise for Championship-Level Cardio and Agility

Even if you’re not a football fan, you have a lot to gain from the Heisman exercise. Named for how it (soft of) mimics the ball carrier atop college football’s Heisman Trophy, this lateral jump develops strength, speed, agility, and cardiovascular fitness.

“The Heisman is a full-body plyometric movement and a great conditioning exercise that revs up the heart rate, increasing the metabolism and burning fat,” says Tony Carvajal, C.S.C.S., a trainer in Miami. Here’s how to do it right.

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Heisman Exercise: Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Stand with your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, chest up, and arms at your sides.
  • Spring off of your left foot to your right, landing softly on your right foot and raising your left knee above hip level as you pump your right arm forward.
  • Immediately spring to your left, reversing the motion of your arms and legs.
  • Continue alternating sides, never letting both feet touch the floor at the same time.


Benefits of the Heisman Exercise

  • Strengthens the legs, core, hips, and glutes.
  • Increases heart and breathing rate to improve cardiovascular fitness.
  • Hones reaction time and agility.
  • Improves your ability to generate power.
  • Requires no equipment and minimal space.


More Exercises Like the Heisman


Double Heisman


  •  Add a stutter step between each high knee of the Heisman exercise to shuffle from left to right.
  • Think: Step, step, step, high knee. Step, step, step, high knee. Both feet will never be on the floor at the same time.


Heisman lunge


  •  Holding a medicine ball out in front of your chest, step your right foot into a reverse lunge and rotate your torso to the left.
  • Push through your left foot to stand up and raise your right knee toward your chest as you rotate your torso toward your right knee.
  • Immediately descend into the next rep and repeat for the prescribed number of reps. Then switch sides, performing equal reps on both.


Skier jump


  •  Keeping your feet together and swinging your arms at your sides (like you’re holding onto ski poles) jump from side to side.
  • Land with your knees slightly bent to minimize impact.


Skater jump

skater jumps

  •  Picture the Heisman exercise only with larger jumps. Once you plant your jumping leg, cross your opposite ankle behind it.
  • Then maybe tap the floor near your planted foot with your opposite hand before immediately launching into the next rep.


K. Aleisha Fetters is an experienced nutrition and fitness writer and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. She has written for print and online publications including TIME, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Runner’s World, SELF, SHAPE, U.S. News & World Report, Weight Watchers, Men’s Fitness, Yahoo! Health, Furthermore by Equinox, Cosmopolitan, Daily Burn, and Girls Gone Strong. Follow her on Twitter.