Push, Play


By John Parker
Photos by Mike Nowak

Despite getting a late start on the season, NFL stars are poised once again to inspire the tailgating masses with superhuman displays of athleticism and determination.

The abridged preason (a months-long players strike ended July 25) meant even more intense workouts during training camp. To make up for lost time, the guys in charge of preparing the Chargers to win games pushed players through rigorous strength
and conditioning exercises combined with functional,game-time movements intended to pay big dividends when our hometown heroes hit the field on any given Sunday.

“Our philosophy here is that you get strong from the middle out,” says Chargers head strength and conditioning coach, Jeff Hurd. “If we build a good base-core, legs-that power will generate out their hands.”

The Bolts supplement weight room routines with exercises that promote agility and stamina, enabling the explosive movements required to leap and catch passes or juke through a rushing defensive line.

“I try to keep my training as dynamic as possible,” says Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who took up boxing during the offseason to improve his hand-eye coordination and make himself lighter on his feet.

“I do a lot of box jumps, going up stairs, jump ropes, single leg jumps (and other plyometrics)... because in football, you’re rarely going to be in a balanced position all the time,” Jackson says. “Everything’s usually on one leg or the other.”

Put your best leg forward this fall by adopting some of these NFL workout strategies. Even if you don’t make the Super Bowl, you can still feel super while training like a Charger.

Set... ready... Go! Go! Go!

Catch Me If You Can

To develop the speed and coordination essential for a Pro Bowl receiver, Vincent Jackson performs Crossfit workouts. Combining power and Olympic lifts with full-body exercises, Crossfit conditions athletes to adapt to high-intensity training. “High-tempo, high-repetition exercise results in a very dynamic and challenging workout,” Jackson says.

TDs Through DVDs

Cornerback Marcus Gilchrist makes the popular P90X home fitness DVD collection his offseason protocol.

“It works not only endurance and conditioning, but the core work, the arm work, stuff like that,” Gilchrist says.

Following the instructor on P90X is like having a personal trainer on-call whenever you turn on the TV. The program’s serious workouts incorporate strength, flexibility and cardiovascular exercises.

No Need to Weight

For safety Steven Gregory, there is nothing more vital than leg work.

“A lot of sprints, a lot of change of direction type movements-cone drills and things that (require) a quick, sudden change of movement,” Gregory says. “You don’t necessarily need weight. You can do things on stairs and things like lunges. Just get out there and do movement.”

Critical Mass

Heaviest dumbbell in the Chargers’ weight room: 200 lbs.
Weight of tires the Chargers flip on the field during training: 450 lbs.
Weight of Chargers defensive tackle Antonio Garay: 320 lbs.
Weight (in addition to body weight) required to achieve the core-and-leg-toning benefit of squats, when executed with proper form: 0 lbs.

-Source: Chargers head strength and conditioning coach, Jeff Hurd