Texans Fitness Corner

Texans strength and conditioning coach Dan Riley is one of the most experienced coaches in his field. Riley spent the past 19 seasons in the same capacity with the Washington Redskins, serving as an integral part of three Super Bowl champions, four NFC champions and five NFC East champions during his tenure. Prior to his stint with the Redskins, Riley spent five years at Penn State and four seasons at Army.

Riley has authored four books on weight training, penned a fitness column for *The Washington Post and currently writes a monthly column for Scholastic Coach. This marks his first column for HoustonTexans.com. Riley will periodically provide Texans fans with fitness tips and answer e-mail inquiries.*

The fitness formula for a well-conditioned athlete and the average fitness enthusiast is a simple one. Remember, however, that there are no magic pills or potions. If you're looking for one, you will never reach your full physical potential.

There are many similarities between the conditioning program of the professional athlete and the average person, male or female. But one major difference is the intensity of exercise.

The serious athlete (or fitness enthusiast) must generate the best gains in the least amount of time. The effort exerted must be exceptionally high each time the athlete trains.

The average person can be more patient and willing to accept less than the highest fitness level. But a long-term commitment is more important than the exercise system you employ. Many people can be disciplined for one workout, one week, or even one month. The key for an athlete - the true professional - is a commitment for an entire career. And for the average person, it must be a commitment for your entire life.

Balance is the key to any conditioning program. You can train to become a world-class weightlifter and spend little time stretching or conditioning. You can over-emphasize cardiovascular work at the expense of muscular fitness.

The goal of our players will be to work efficiently. We want them to spend as little time as possible in each area to develop the highest level of fitness and skill. Early in my career we over-trained some of our athletes. We tried to find out "how much" exercise they could handle and it eventually caused them to fall short of maximum benefits.

Our philosophy now is to find out "how little" exercise our players need to stimulate the best gains and promote maximum recovery. The fitness profile of our players is made up of eight components. To reach their full potential our athletes must address each of these components individually. As a fitness enthusiast, you should also incorporate most of these components into your fitness program. Here are the eight components (in no particular order):

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1) Nutrition

2) Conditioning (aerobic/anaerobic)

3) Speed Development

4) Muscular Fitness

5) Specificity of Conditioning

6) Skill Acquisition

7) Flexibility

8) Rest

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The serious athlete, as well as the weekend warrior, should address each of the above. The average fitness enthusiast need not be concerned with speed development or skill acquisition.

If we can help you with any of your fitness questions, feel free to contact us at fitness@houstontexans.com. Go Texans!

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