In a recent Instagram post, Todd Durkin of Fitness Quest 10 showed off a new conditioning routine he’s using to train Drew Brees, Darren Sproles and Gerald McCoy for the upcoming season.
It looks like torture.
The workout is done on a Cybex SPARC, which at first glance looks like an elliptical machine. How hard could an elliptical workout be?
Well, the SPARC is like an elliptical on steroids.
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According to Durkin, the SPARC is a hybrid between an elliptical and a stair climber. You drive your legs down and backward—rather than moving them in a circular motion—which works your glutes and quads. Don’t try to do a 30-minute cardio session on it.
The SPARC is designed for high-intensity interval training. As you can see, the NFL stars performing in the video above are going absolutely all out. This could be problematic if done on a traditional elliptical.
“The elliptical is going to have more of a jarring force on the knee because it’s a forward and backward motion,” said Durkin. “If someone has knee issues, going fast on an elliptical is certainly going to be tough on the knees.”
Durkin explained the goal of the workout is to create as much peak power, or watts, as possible in the amount of time it is performed. Typically, interval workouts are composed of 3 sets of 5 to 10 seconds with 1 to 2 minutes of rest between sets.
I know, 5 to 10 seconds doesn’t sound like much. However, you must go all out. Do anything at your absolute max for a few seconds, and you’re sure to get fatigued. You can tell by the athletes’ expressions that they’re working their butts off, even though they’re in elite condition.
Working at the highest intensity for short durations builds anaerobic power. Basically, it trains the NFL guys to create and maintain greater power during a football play, which typically lasts five to seven seconds.
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In the workout shown, Durkin said McCoy broke the gym record for power output on the exercise with 2,300 watts. And he thinks Brees’s score of 1,900 watts egged him on.
“They get extremely competitive on it. Gerald just went beast mode,” Durkin said. “When Gerald saw Drew get 1,900 watts, as a defensive tackle, he’s like, ‘No way am I letting a quarterback beat me in a power exercise.’”
Durkin also uses the SPARC in circuits with his general fitness clients. A popular circuit includes 30 seconds on the SPARC, followed by a set of Bear Crawls and a core exercise.
Not all gyms have a SPARC, but you can still take advantage of this style of conditioning. A VersaClimber is a great substitute, as is a high-speed treadmill or stationary bike.