Conditioning for the Big Man on the Field

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Being a former 310-lb. All-Big Ten and NFL lineman myself, I know the importance of being a well-conditioned athlete. I also know that between practices, games and lifting, our knees can really take a beating. Although Gassers, Suicides, 100-Yard Sprints and the treadmill are classic conditioning methods, big boys may have to find other ways to keep up their cardio endurance.

Here are a few ways to keep your mammoth body in shape while preventing wear and tear on your knees.

Jump Rope
This is one of my favorite methods of conditioning, because it not only works your conditioning level, but also makes you a better athlete. This old-school method improves coordination and footwork, is generally low-impact, and will leave you with a giant puddle of sweat.

I recommend starting at 10 intervals of 30 seconds with a 30-second recovery. After you master the standard two-legged jump, try the Skier [moving feet side to side], Bell Hop [moving feet front to back] or Scissor Jumps [switching feet from front to back].

Rowing Machine or Versa Climber
The rowing machine and versa climber can be great ways to get a full-body cardio workout. Found in most commercial gyms, they will not only be easy on your joints, but also leave you gasping for air.

Studies show that high-intensity interval training is the best method of improving cardio endurance. Try 10 intervals of one minute to start, with a 45-second recovery. Once you build up your endurance on the rowing machine or climber, try 15-20 intervals of 30 seconds.

Cell Block Challenges
After my football career ended, I realized I needed to stay in shape and not pound on my knees. I came up with a workout that I call "Cell Blocks." NFL linemen use these during the off-season to stay in shape and keep their knees healthy.

Cell Block #1:
Jump Rope – 100
Burpees – 25
Jump Rope – 100
Squat Jumps – 50
Jump Rope – 100
Jumping Jacks – 100
Jump Rope – 100
Mountain Climbers – 100

You can find the official Cell Block Workout #1 here. My best time is 6:06.

Cell Block #2:
Rowing Machine* – 30 sec.
Jump Rope – 30 sec.

*Mountain climber, treadmill or stairmaster can substitute for rowing machine.

Repeat for 10-15 rounds.

You can find the official Cell Block Workout #2 here.

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