Welcome to Dan Riley's latest installment of Texans Fitness Corner. The response continues to be overwhelming. We will continue to post selected answers to your questions throughout the year. Join in by shooting over an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE:Before engaging in any new physical activity, always consult your physician.
All NFL teams have reported to summer camp. It feels strange not packing up the equipment and heading for some college campus to hold summer camp. I'd be having severe withdrawal pains if it wasn't for two of our local strength and conditioning coaches. Scott "Brick" Reeves is the head strength and conditioning coach at Rice University, and Scott Kellar is employed in the same capacity at the University of Houston.
Both coaches are eminently qualified and run outstanding programs. I've had the chance to observe many strength and conditioning programs. None are more organized or better coached than these two right here in Houston.
I've used them as a resource to learn and gather new ideas. They have been gracious with their time and have shared many thoughts with me. They are getting ready to start their two-a-day practices, which signal the official beginning of their season. I wanted to take this chance to publicly thank them and their assistants for allowing me to observe.
I am a big fan of the offensive linemen in the NFL. I have started to work out hard with the weights. How do I get as large as some of those guys on the offense?
-- Jay **
Offensive linemen vary in size and weight but most stand between 6'3" and 6'5" and average over 300 pounds in weight. These bigger than average humans inherit these physical traits at conception.
The ratio of muscle and fat can vary significantly. There aren't many really lean offensive linemen. Unfortunately there are some linemen that carry an abundance of fat. If you want to emulate offensive linemen I suggest you pattern yourself after the leaner linemen. Add as much muscle as you want or can, but it makes no sense to add one unnecessary fat cell.
Many years ago people believed you could change the body type and muscular makeup of an athlete by altering the set/rep combination. We had linemen lift heavy weights for just a few reps and told them they would develop "bulk." We didn't want our receivers and defensive backs to get "bulky." We had them lift lighter weights for more reps.
I realize now that the job description of an athlete dictates the physical makeup of the prototypical player. It's not just by chance that linemen are big people to begin with. We could ask an All Pro lineman and an All Pro wide receiver to switch positions on the field and both would fail miserably. There are specific physical tools an NFL lineman must possess. Good size is one of the requisites.
Now when someone asks, "How can I bulk up?" I tell them (excluding maturation) you've got two choices. You can add muscle and /or you can add fat. The choice is yours. To add fat you must overeat or become less active. To add muscle you must engage in some form of resistance exercise. How much muscle you add (naturally) is determined primarily by your genetic makeup.
Altering the set/rep combination and/or the equipment used will not alter your genetic potential. We use the same system for each of our players. Our wide receivers don't "turn into" offensive linemen and vice versa. Some players respond better than others. This is predetermined by their physical makeup.
The 132-pound competitive Olympic lifter doesn't have the same physical characteristics as the heavyweight or the super heavyweight lifter. Yet competitive weight lifters all use the same equipment and the same methodology. Height, body type, bone structure, muscle belly length, are all inherited characteristics.
You asked, "How can I get as large as some of those guys on offense?" I don't know if you have the genetic makeup to be as big as the average lineman. My advice is to train hard and make sure you are developing each major muscle group in your body. You should also develop good eating habits and get plenty of rest. How "large" you eventually get will be determined by your developing potential.
I am 35 years old and play flag football. I am looking to get in shape and increase my speed. Can you give me some suggestions?
-- Jay **
At 35 you should use some caution. My first bit of advice is to make sure you first get in shape to play flag football. Don't use the game itself to get in shape. That's how many weekend warriors get hurt. They aren't in good enough shape to play the game.
You must also get in shape to improve your speed. You'll never run your fastest until you actually practice running your fastest. You can't do this unless you get in good enough shape to practice running fast.
We all have a speed potential. It is similar to a car. You can take the car you drive out on a racetrack and see how fast it will run. You can drive it around the track lap after lap, and it will only go so fast.
Give your car to a mechanic and ask him to help you increase the speed of your car. He might change the tires, put different fuel in the car, adjust the carburetor, change the plugs, etc.
You bring the car back out on the track and it drives faster than before. You again continue to drive the car lap after lap but it won't go any faster. You take the car back to the mechanic and ask him to make the car run even faster. He'll state, "I've done everything I can do with what you have under the hood." Your mechanic would have to put a bigger engine in the car to make it run faster.
People are no different. We all have an ability to run at a given speed. Are you an average person with average speed and quickness, or are you a Porsche? Most of us are average and no matter what we try we'll always have average speed. At least with your car you can buy a bigger engine.
What can you do to reach your speed potential? If you live in the Houston area I'd suggest visiting Danny Arnold, owner of Professional Athletic Service. He has a facility in Stafford at 13000 Murphy Road, Suite 130, Telephone 281-240-0253. He specializes in speed and agility training. He trains high school, college, and professional athletes. I've visited his facility many times to observe his workouts. He knows how to "tweak your carburetor."
If you don't live in the Houston area you can refer to several books I've listed below. Human Kinetics is a publishing company with many instructional books and videos on a wide range of topics to include speed and explosiveness.
Sports Speed, Dintiman, George, Ward, Bob, Tellez, Tom, Human Kinetics, P.O. Box 5076, Champaign, IL 61825-5076, Telephone: 800-747-4457, www.humankinetics.com
Training for Speed, Agility, and Quickness, Brown, Lee, Ferrigno, Vance, Santana, Juan Carlos, Human Kinetics.
There are three companies you can contact to purchase equipment to improve speed and explosiveness.
MF Athletic Company
P.O. Box 8090
Cranston R.I. 02920-0090
Power Systems, Inc.
2933 Northwest Park Drive
Knoxville, TN 37912
215 West Capitol Street
Jackson, MS 39201
I'd suggest you perform some interval work to improve your anaerobic conditioning. Your goal should be to improve speed and also be capable of sustaining that speed throughout the course of a game.
There are many different interval routines you can use. At the beginning of the off-season our longest interval runs are 60 seconds in length. We gradually decrease the running times until our players are sprinting shorter distances and eventually incorporate change of direction into the workouts. I've included several workouts I use with our players. Initially I'd suggest performing these workouts at a less than maximum effort. As your fitness level improves your effort must increase. Remember, to run your fastest you must practice running your fastest.
Listed below is a brief description of each workout. We use Lafayette Sportimers to time each sprint. We monitor how fast they run each sprint and the length of each rest interval. If possible I suggest you do the same. I've included the running times as a guideline. Initially use common sense and your fitness level to determine your pace. Warm up before running.
Offensive Linemen = OL
Defensive Linemen = DL
Tight Ends = TE
Running Backs = RB
Linebackers = LB
Quarterbacks = QB
Defensive Backs = DB
Wide Receivers = WR
Equipment: Football field
OL/DL= 19-18 seconds
TE//RB/QB/LB = 17-16 seconds
WR/DB = 15-14 seconds
Rest Interval: 45 seconds
Number of reps: 10 - 12
Volume of work: 1110 yards to 1350 yards
During this workout you will run one set of 110-yard sprints. From a stance, sprint 110 yards. After crossing the finish line coast ten yards and turn around. The rest interval begins as soon as you cross the finish line. Rest 45 seconds and again sprint 110-yards. After crossing the finish line coast ten yards and turn around. Continue this procedure until you have completed 10 to 12 sprints. Cool down and stretch.
2 Sets of 40's **
Equipment used: Football field
OL/DL = 6.1 seconds
TE/RB/QB/LB = 5.5 seconds
WR/DB = 5.0 seconds
Rest between 40-yard sprints: 25 seconds
Number of sprints: 2 sets of 12
Rest between sets: 3 minutes
Volume of work: 960 yards
During this workout you will run two sets of 40-yard sprints. From a stance, sprint 40 yards, then coast 20 yards and turn around. The rest interval begins as soon as you cross the finish line. At the end of the rest interval again sprint 40 yards, and then coast 20 yards. Continue this procedure until you have completed 12 x 40-yard sprints. Rest three minutes and repeat the above protocol. Cool down and stretch.
Equipment used: Football field or gymnasium indoors
Exercise time: maximum speed
Rest between reps: 45 seconds
Number of reps: 12
Volume of work: 720 yards
During this workout you will perform two different movements. They include running forward and backpedaling, and the lateral shuffle.
From the goal line sprint forward five yards, touch the line with your foot and backpedal 5 yards, to the goal line. Immediately sprint forward ten yards, touch the line and backpedal 10 yards. To finish rep number one, sprint forward 15 yards, touch the line with your foot and backpedal 15 yards. You've just completed 60 yards of running forward and backward. Rest 45 seconds and begin rep number two.
Use the same protocol outlined above while performing the lateral shuffle (instead of running forward and backpedaling). While performing the lateral shuffle do not cross the feet. Eliminate bouncing up and down.
Repeat Reps 1 and 2 (6 times) until a total of 12 reps have been performed. Use caution not to roll an ankle. If you run the Upbacks indoors, use a wide sole sneaker (do not use running shoes). Cool down and stretch.
30-Yard Short Shuttle **
Equipment used: 20-yard running area.
Exercise time: Maximum effort
Rest between 30-yard sprints: 20 seconds
Rest between sets: 3 minutes
Number of reps: 2 sets of 12 reps
Volume of work: 720 yards
During this workout you will run 2 sets of 30-yard shuttles. From the 5-yard line, sprint 5 yards to the 10-yard line and touch the line with your foot. Immediately change direction and sprint 10 yards back to the goal line. Again change direction and sprint 15 yards through the 15-yard line, completing the 30-yard shuttle. Rest three minutes after completing your first set of 12 reps. Perform a second set of 12 reps and then cool down and stretch. Each sprint is an all out effort.
For any of these workouts, you can adjust the number of reps, the rest between sets, the recovery time between reps, and the actual running time, to accommodate your fitness level. Keep accurate records. Use the above guidelines as your goal. You will be in good running shape when you can finish the above workouts using the guidelines I provided.
Develop a good aerobic base before using the above workouts. You can begin these workouts about five weeks before your flag football season begins. Try running four days per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday). Two of the workouts are straight-line running (110's, 2 sets of 40's), and two of the workouts are change of direction (Upbacks, 30-yard short shuttle). On Monday and Thursday complete one of the straight-line workouts and on Tuesday and Friday run one of the change of direction workouts.
The closer you get to your competitive season begin practicing (at full speed) some of the skill patterns you'll use to play the game. For example, if you are a wide receiver begin running pass routes.
Use caution and best of luck. Go Texans!