Look Like a Football Player

“I wanna be strong as an elite lifter and be able to run forever!”

I’m going to take a wild guess that you’re  probably frustrated by your declining strength over your current training cycle (which, for most people, is about two weeks before  you get frustrated and move on to the next big program you read  about online) and don’t realize that it’s going to take some time for your body to adapt to the increased work load you’re imposing on it.

NFL players (or any professional athletes for that  matter) don’t just decide to try out for the big leagues the day they graduate from high school or college. There’s an extremely lengthy, almost life-long building-up process that allows them to knock heads with the biggest and the best.

Allow me to use myself as an example, so you can get an idea of  what more than five years of college football is like, in terms of training load.

January — March: Morning conditioning, usually a series of grueling circuits done over the course of an hour. Most people  puked and got run into the ground. This goes on three days/week.  You also lift four days a week.

Spring Ball: Practice begins at 6 AM and lasts for about  two hours. Conditioning performed after each practice.   Lifting three to four days/week.

Spring Ball to end of School: Lift four days/week, running three to four days/week.

Summer Sessions: Lift four days/week, run four days/week, 7 on 7  drills every day.

Pre-Season: Two to three practices/day. Lifting is minimal due  to heavy practice schedule.

In Season: This depends on the coaches and the school. We lifted  three days/week. Hard practices (hitting) on Tuesday and Wednesday,    Thursday was half-pads but you still ran a lot. Conditioning was hard on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sunday was usually a one-mile run  and some pool work. Every practice started with a 10-15 minute  dynamic warm-up.

Now, most people that played college ball obviously played in high school first. Many times, the running was more intense and  crazy in high school. Most football players also played another sport. So for about 10 years they have built up this incredible base of conditioning and work capacity. In other words, their bodies have adapted to it.

So my frustrated friend, my advice to you is to give yourself 10 years of the above if you want your body to react like a  pro athlete’s. Until then, choose ONE goal and go for it.  Serving two masters isn’t going to get you where you need to  be.

Now this doesn’t mean you can’t be in shape and be strong. But the trouble with wanting both is this:

What is strong? What is “in shape”?

I have very clear notions of what both of these mean to me. I  know exactly what I think it means to be strong. I know the exact numbers that, in my head, would define you as strong.  I know exactly what it means to me to be in shape. I know the exact “thing” that, for me, would define someone to be “in shape”.  But that’s just me. What is strong to you? What is in shape to you? And more important, what does being “strong AND in shape”  mean to you? My challenge to you is to find this out; how do you define strong and being in-shape.  Your answer will tell a lot about you and your training (and experience).

Define each of these with CLEAR numbers and performances. The  more specific, the better, none of this “I wanna be strong and  look jacked” crap. I know I’ve started to go off on a bit  of a tangent here, but you always have to know what you want and dedicate yourself to the task. Otherwise, you’re wasting your most valuable commodity: your time.

And last but not least, you better be willing to give blood to get what you want.

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  • Comment by Eric — October 12, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

    Excellent post Jim. I find in the s+c industry people try to keep up with the joneses just as much as they do with wealth. What’s the easiest way to get big, rich, smarter, etc. They dabble with one program for a month, then move onto the next internet sensation progam and the cycle continues. Thanks for posting this reality check, hopefully some will take away the key points.

  • Comment by Kevin Kuzia — October 12, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

    Thanks, Jim. I enjoyed this one. For one, people need to understand that strength/conditioning development is a process and can be a long one if you are really looking to be considered “high level”. A second thing that people should also take into account is their own age/training level. While people shouldn’t put any mental limits on their own potential, they also need to be smart enough to understand that a 35 year old guy with a job and family isn’t going to react to or recover from training the same as a 20 year old college football player. Again, not to use that as an excuse for not getting better, but just to set expectations properly.

    Great stuff.

  • Comment by Mike — October 12, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

    Most people that aspire to look like a Vernon Davis, don’t realize the years of work that are behind the physique. Form will always follow function.

    BTW, will the “SEX, (farm animals)” article be posted on the site, or did you just roll that one out in hard copy to peddle at the Farm Science Review?

  • Comment by Jim Wendler — October 16, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

    I never did anything at ASU – I went to Arizona. And yes I did do them at UA.

  • Pingback by Monday’s hero | CrossFit NYC — October 16, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

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