A Dynamic Warm-Up followed by Sled Runs, extensive core training, Tire Flips and timed sprints on the Real Runner machine: Patrick Chung’s movement prep and core warm-up might be harder than your entire workout.
Chung: "If you can run forever, you can play forever."
“When we’re done with that, we’ll go through an extensive lift of eight to 10 exercises,” Chung says. “A lot of Olympic lifts: Power Cleans, Hang Snatch, some Single-Leg Squats. We’re doing something explosive every day.”
And that, in essence, is why the New England Patriots safety is at the pinnacle of his game in just his third NFL season.
In case you didn't notice, the common thread in his warm-up and the foundation of each and every Chung training session is core work. “A strong core is what keeps your speed up, keeps you running faster for a longer time,” he says. “Your core, glutes and all the small muscles that you don’t normally focus on make a huge difference when it comes to fast-twitch movements.
“My motto is, ‘If you can run forever, you can play forever,’” he proclaims.
Performing exercises in circuit fashion also adds a conditioning element, elevating his heart rate, so Chung is better able to handle the workload of heavy lifts such as Cleans, Snatches and other power movements.
Try the following Chung-approved circuit three times through, with limited rest between sets. [Chung often works the speed bag as active rest between circuits.]
Rotational Rope Row
- Standing on bench, grasp ropes affixed to top of Power Rack
- Lean forward, rotate upper body to right and lower toward ground while maintaining body control
- Rotate upper body, lowering until back is just above ground and arms are extended overhead
- Engage core and upper body to explosively pull body up to start position
- Perform to opposite side; repeat
Reps: 6-8 each side
Chung: “It’s hard just to hold yourself up. Start on the ground first and advance to the bench. Adding the bench makes it harder, because your body is at more of an angle and you’re going down lower. It’s pretty much all core and upper body power to pull yourself back up to start position.”
Benefits: “This helps with tackling, taking on blocks, shedding blocks and having that body control to stay at the edge.”
Real Runner Sprints
- Assume position on Real Runner machine
- Sprint full speed for specified time
Duration: 10-15 seconds
Chung: “The Real Runner hurts, man [laughs], especially when the resistance is turned up. We’ll go 10 to 15 seconds. I just run until he says stop. I’m not worried about the time; if you worry about the time, then you’re waiting for it to be over and it feels like it’ll never stop.”
Benefits: “That’s for running form, hitting your full stride: knees all the way up, legs all the way back. You’re under resistance the whole time, which is going to make you more explosive.”
- Assume athletic position with back flat, chest up and hips back
- Squat and position hands slightly wider than shoulder width underneath tire
- Explode up by fully extending hips, knees and ankles while forcefully shrugging with straight arms
- Pull tire up, keeping it close to body
- Drop under tire with bent knees and catch it in front of shoulders
- Powerfully extend hips, knees, ankles and arms to press tire forward and flip it onto ground
- Repeat for specified reps
Chung: “This just kills your legs. Your core has to be tight to be able to explode up with power. It’s painful work but it helps a lot.”
Benefits: “This helps with explosion and endurance. It gets your quads, hamstrings and all the smaller muscles in your legs.”
Hanging Core Stability Holds
- Hanging from chin-up bar or gymnastics rings, lift legs until parallel with floor
- Hold for specified time
Duration: 12 seconds
Chung: “You lift your legs and put your body in a position where your core is tight, your abs are flexed, and you’re just keeping everything tight. It’s all body strength and body control.”
Benefits: “You have to have body control to be able to stop on a dime. You’re using your abs and all the small core muscles to explode out of your break, fight off the receiver, and go up and get the ball.”
Photos: Dave Arnold // Dave Arnold Photography