Off-Season Workouts: NFL vs. College Volume
Heath Evans, Auburn Tiger alumnus and New Orleans Saints fullback, will provide STACK readers and web visitors with an exclusive look at his preseason workouts. Check back each week for new posts from Evans.
Traditional NFL summer workouts are what I'm used to: organized, workmanlike and strenuous. But the current NFL lockout has put players in a bind. How do we properly prepare for the coming season outside of our usual regimen of personal workouts, voluntary team workouts and 'Organized Team Activities' [a strictly-defined term in the contract between the league and the NFL Players Association]? Some teams have been more proactive than others about working out together, but in the end, each player is on his own to ensure he is prepared.
After one month of organized workouts with my Saints teammates, which were led by our QB Drew Brees and well-documented by the media, I decided to move my family to Auburn, Ala. for the rest of the off-season. My goals were both personal and professional: spend time with my wife's family and work out with Auburn University head strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall to keep myself in peak shape as I prepare for my 11th NFL season—and my second season following major knee reconstruction in week seven of the 2009 season.
Two things jump to mind as I evaluate the decision: first, Yox is a beast—maybe the best in the business! Second, NFL volume vs. college volume is an important factor for me. NFL summer workouts are almost all on a four-day-a-week schedule. Players work out at the team facility with team strength coaches Monday through Thursday or Tuesday through Friday, with lifting, running, stretching, agility and speed workouts all incorporated. The workouts are tough, but they are also designed for professionals: each athlete is responsible for pushing himself without a lot of "rah-rah" yelling and screaming. College workouts are typically designed for younger athletes, with more leadership and motivation from the coaches and team leaders. They also operate on a five-day-a-week schedule, with only weekends for rest and recovery. The college workouts are, frankly, more intense and more competitive. The pro workouts are more workmanlike and, ironically, more collegial.
I am fully invested in the workouts: Yox knows that I am not going to pick and choose what I want to do. The Auburn guys know this, too, and I hope it is a great example to them. But what this means for me as an NFL veteran [okay, an old guy who is blessed to still be playing the game for a living] is that I need to be much more methodical about what I do outside of the workouts.
At the end of the day, it is vital for me to focus on my rest/recovery plan and diet. I am not 20 years old with boundless energy and quick recovery. As a guy who is past 30 and has beat his body into submission over the years, I need to be sure that I am specific about calories [minimum of 6,000 each day with 300-350 grams of protein], hydration [at least a gallon of water a day], multivitamins, protein powders [from Garden of Life and BSN], and even rest [at least eight hours a night and—let the "old guy" jokes begin—60- to 90-minute naps during the day].
I clearly benefit from competing with younger athletes each day, and my attention to detail in the aspects above will result in my going into year 11 in better shape and more prepared than I have been in years.
I think I have also been able to add value to the Auburn team—particularly this year. In 2009, we won the Saints' first Super Bowl and spent 2010 having that "Champion's Target" on our backs. Spending this off-season with the Tigers hopefully allows me to impart some wisdom about what they will face as they embark on their next season with a 2011 BCS Championship trophy on the shelf!
Super Bowl champion Heath Evans is a 10-year veteran fullback with the New Orleans Saints. For more information on Evans and the Heath Evans Foundation, visit heathevans.org.