With the Steelers and Bengals set to clash in the AFC Wild Card round, fans will get to see two of football’s elite wide receivers on a grand stage. Antonio Brown had one of the best seasons in NFL history, racking up 136 receptions for 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns. A. J. Green also had an amazing campaign, compiling 86 receptions for 1,297 yards and 10 touchdowns.
When you watch these two slice apart defenses, one question comes to mind: How the heck did they get so good? Well, there are two very different answers for two very different players. Both Brown and Green are unstoppable offensive weapons, but the training behind their success is far from similar.
AB’s Cutting-Edge Training
Antonio Brown isn’t going to overpower you. Standing 5-foot-10 and weighing 181 pounds, Brown builds his game more on speed, precision and agility than brute force. His training style caters to the strengths of his skill set.
Although he spends plenty of time in the weight room, Brown mixes in a variety of other disciplines to keep his body strong and healthy. He’s an avid swimmer during the off-season, using it as a low-impact form of cardio. “You’ve got to let your joints recover and just take a break from all the pounding that you endured over the season,” Brown says. A normal off-season cardio swim session for him is roughly 36 laps.
Brown also includes intense pilates and TRX routines in his training schedule. He believes these forms of full-body training are huge for injury prevention and shattering plateaus. ”For training, you have to trick your body and challenge it in all kinds of different ways,” Brown says. “Pilates is one of those little things that really helps me.”
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“[With TRX and Pilates], he works everything at once, which is what he really needs to do on the field,” says Brown’s trainer, Christine Ruby. “This way we create a natural muscle balance where he’ll have appropriate length and strength in each muscle on opposing forces. This is going to make a huge difference in his longevity. The sky’s the limit with these workouts.”
A. J. Green’s Old-School Workouts
The keys to A. J. Green’s success are his physical attributes. The rangy 6-foot-4, 207-pound receiver can win a jump ball against almost any cornerback. However, Green is relatively slim, so his goal entering this past off-season was to put on muscle, increase strength and build toughness.
Green joined former University of Georgia teammates Justin Houston (of the Kansas City Chiefs) and Akeem Dent (of the Houston Texans) to train at Rock Hard Fitness in Tucker, Georgia. Yelp reviewers describe Rock Hard as “old-school” and “hardcore”—the type of gym that focuses on performance and power over sleek aesthetics.
Led by Curtis Winters, owner of Rock Hard Fitness and a former bodybuilder-turned-trainer, the group performed workouts consisting of a steady diet of big lifts like Squats, Bench Presses and Deadlifts—in addition to old-school training moves like pushing pick-up trucks and running hills.
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Winters said, “I’m almost 60 years old. I’m a little old-school. We’ve gotten away from foundational training and basic training. I believe in training heavy. I believe in running hills. I believe you want to use progression to strengthen the joints, the tendons and the muscles so that once you go into the season, you’ll be able to hold up.”
It’s safe to say his old-school training paid off. Green was able to pack on muscle, and he didn’t miss a single game due to injury this season.
We’re looking forward to watching Brown and Green, each one backed by his own unique training regimen, collide in Paul Brown Stadium on Saturday night.