It's Monday afternoon in the middle of the NFL season. Antonio Gates is fresh off another All-Pro performance: seven catches, 100-plus receiving yards and two touchdowns. On this day, the San Diego Chargers tight end retreats to his in-season stronghold within the team's training facility.
Gates is more than a big-bodied finesse player. Chargers strength coach Jeff Hurd says, “A guy like Antonio, he’s more of a hybrid. He not only has to block, he has to run like a receiver.”
Mondays are not rest days in Charger-Land. In fact, the day is programmed for heavy lifting, which is a critical piece of Gates’ in-season training. The weight room is his fortress, a place Gates goes to recharge his batteries.
For Gates, the name of the game is consistency, and it extends from game day to the practice field and everything in between, including these always-important weight room sessions. He says, “Obviously, it’s a long season. It gets rough, and that’s why it’s important to maintain that consistency of going in the weight room and getting some lifting done.”
Hurd says that Monday lifts are an essential part of the recovery process for his football players. He likens the physical contact they endure on game days to “being in a train wreck.” Engaging in physical activity, such as weight training, when their bodies are in distress helps them "get rid of the swelling and bleeding that goes on inside their bodies from all of the contact. What we’ve found is it allows their bodies to perform better come Wednesday when we start practice."
Most of Gates’ heavy lifts—Squats and Power Shrugs, for example—are performed early in the week. Later in the week, his workouts progress to more functional movements, with a focus on explosiveness, speed and quickness. Hurd says, “We have to take care of his legs, but we also have to keep him explosive and powerful because of the blocking he has to do.”
Says Gates, “Everything I do is about quality reps. This was something that was learned once I got to the league, just because I was a basketball player. I wasn’t coming in with the same intensity in the weight room as most of these guys who come from college football programs.”
Watch Gates bring the intensity in this video, featuring the Monday in-season workout outlined above.
Photo: German Alegria
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