If you are looking to gain muscle, improve strength endurance or just stay game-ready after the season ends, try bodyweight training. Just ask Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown about its results.
STACK recently spent a day in Pittsburgh catching up with Brown, and we had the opportunity to see his favorite ways to stay in top shape during the off-season. Brown "swears off the weight room when not in season" to allow full muscle recovery. "Your bodyweight is what you're meant to be pushing around, not heavy weights," he says.
That doesn't mean Brown takes it easy. Instead of maxing out with dumbbells, the 2011 Pro Bowler combines Pilates, TRX training and swimming for full-body workouts to increase his strength, stamina and agility.
A three-year veteran of Pilates training, Brown incorporates the practice into his daily workouts. Although his instructor's program continually changes, the goals remains the same: maintain control; empower oblique core muscles; work on explosive power in the hips, glutes and calves to increase running speed; and create muscle balance through strengthening and alignment.
"It's way harder than it looks," says Brown. "It's no joke."
To become more aware of his alignment and to maintain correct body positioning, Brown works out in a room filled with mirrors. This also allows him to become attentive to the space, which is an often overlooked tool that's useful on the football field.
TRX is "everything you need," according to Brown. He has fine-tuned his TRX routine into a circuit training system—he maxes out for 30 seconds and rests for 10 seconds between sets.
With form and alignment always in mind, Brown does a series of Planks, Squats, Lunges and Push-Ups with a TRX Suspension Trainer to increase muscle tone and memory. Because he's not looking for quick results, he concentrates on safety in the movements, saying that he wants his training to increase the longevity of his career.
An avid swimmer, Brown mixes up his strokes when taking laps in the pool to build his cardio endurance and improve his running game. He says, "Sixty laps. A mile in water is three on land."
As with any exercise or workout plan, make sure you have proper supervision and correct body alignment. Although Brown's combo of Pilates, TRX and swimming may seem less dynamic and more controllable than other training methods, if done incorrectly, it can still lead to injury.
After spending time with Brown, we at STACK know that anything Brown endorses for fitness is not a walk in the park. "My favorite is the challenging exercises. I like what other people dislike. If it's easy, it's not fun," says Brown. "Easy is boring."
Check back in future weeks for more articles featuring Brown and his intense off-season workouts.