"The Arm Farm" in the Texans' weight room is not always barrel of fun. It's all about intensity when it comes to a Ray Wright workout.
Texans strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright revved up the team's workout program after he was promoted this offseason. His plan was to isolate muscle groups and simultaneously cause muscle confusion (ie: soreness). The football-specific program has been achieving Wright's desired results, with many players saying, "There's nothing like a Ray Wright workout."
I decided to see what the hype was all about and go through a workout the Wright way. On a typical weekday during the offseason, the players report to the weight room for a morning lifting session and then go to the practice fields for conditioning. They usually watch film and meet with their position coaches in the afternoon.
Friday is considered a light day for the players, and quarterback Dan Orlovsky was kind enough to take the time to lead me through a strength session. Orlovsky is lifting partners with Matt Schaub, which makes sense because they use roughly the same weights and equipment. I am pretty positive Orlovsky will appreciate Schaub much more on Monday after working with me.
Here is a user-friendly breakdown of the Texans' workout program:
Warm ups: For warm ups, Orlovsky had me put a thick elastic band around my ankles, get into a squatting position and take large steps forward and then backwards. This gets the gluts burning. I then did the same exercise while side-stepping to each side. More burning. After that, it was walking lunges while holding a weight and back lunges on a slide board.
Arms: The Texans have designated the biceps area the "Arm Farm" and it's a prime location for anyone wanting to give their guns some extra attention. Bicep curls are a standard lift, but it's more important for the players to have functional strength, especially the offensive linemen who need to be able to engage and hold their blocks. So chest press exercises and the bench press are key for them. Orlovsky and Schaub add rotator cuff moves to help strengthen their arms and prevent injuries. Back muscles are strengthened through lat pulldowns and overhead pulldowns.
Legs: All football players must have powerful legs and gluts, and they build their core leg muscles through squats, leg presses and calf raises. Squats are particularly important for linebackers, who explode from a squatting position. The players also isolate their hamstrings on a machine, which helps them protect their knees.
Abs: The Texans have four different series of ab workouts. Orlovsky took me through one named, "On the Grind" or OTG in weight room lingo. It included scissor kicks, modified crunches and curl ups with a twist.
It usually takes the players a little over an hour to complete their lifting session. What amazed me most is how specialized their weight machines are. There is a rotator cuff machine the length of a bed that works a very specific area. Also, some players are so strong that they can out-lift the machine, so they use just one arm at a time. Of course, the hardest part of it all is having Wright push you on every rep, but luckily he took mercy (or pity) on me.