The MMA Workout Dashon Goldson Uses to Push His Body to the Limit

Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Dashon Goldson powers through an MMA-style workout to get 'fighting' fit' for the gridiron.

Dashon Goldson has been jumping rope for five straight minutes—just the start of his non-traditional workout, led by a non-traditional trainer. While Goldson's opponents are honing their skills on fields or in weight rooms, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' free safety is preparing for the 2014 NFL season by throwing punches at a TV broadcaster.

Jay Glazer, a senior correspondent for Fox Sports, is also the co-founder of Unbreakable Performance Center in West Hollywood, a facility that specializes in MMA-style training. Rather than lifting weights through controlled exercises, Glazer makes Goldson train standing up, using his body weight to initiate takedown moves, grapple and throw punches.

Although the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Goldson has not been throwing kicks and punches on Sundays this season, he derived lots of benefits from getting "fightin' fit"—especially when chasing down lightning-fast wide receivers or tackling tight ends who outweigh him by 50 pounds.

"I found early on that you don't need to be the biggest or strongest player," Goldson says. "It's all about your technique and explosive power."

Each of Goldson's workouts starts with barefoot jump roping, which trains his feet and ankles. From there, his focus shifts up to his hips, where mobility drills help him move more fluidly and with less risk of injury.

Then the real work begins.

Goldson performs Simulated Double-Leg Takedowns and Pummeling, wrestling moves that make him a more effective tackler. Afterwards, he spars with Glazer before finishing with heavy bag punches and kicks to develop his upper-body and core strength, hand speed and coordination. Battling with a partner teaches Goldson to react to an opponent and use countermoves to get into position to defend a pass or make a tackle.

The training is intense and fast-paced. Glazer works Goldson harder than he ever has to work on the football field. "We are trying to get him to move his breaking point," Glazer says. "So when he's out there on the field, he's thinking, 'I'm not tired.'"

Goldson powers through every drill Glazer throws at him. If he's tired or frustrated, he doesn't show it. He says it's important not to let your opponents know when you're feeling gassed; otherwise you'll be at a disadvantage during coverage.

In MMA bouts and boxing matches, the best or most talented athlete doesn't always come out on top. Most often, the winner is the fighter who's less tired than his opponent. The same is true in football.

"I need to get in the best shape that I can to help my team win," Goldson says. "When guys are out there suffering in the fourth quarter, I'll be smiling and waiting for the next guy to come across the middle."

Learn why NFL players are turning to MMA training.

Goldson's MMA Workout


Dashon Goldson Jump Rope Warm-Up

Goldson starts his workouts with five minutes of continuous Jump Rope to build his body from the ground up. He says, "We jump rope to warm up and get the blood flowing. It builds the calves, and gets a little ankle mobility and strengthening in at the same time." Goldson jumps rope barefoot to increase his focus and footwork accuracy. "If you hit your toes with rope, it hurts," Glazer says. "Mentally, you're going to say, 'I don't want to hit my toes anymore.'"

  • Double Leg x 1 min.
  • Alternating Single-Leg x 1 min.
  • Double Leg x 1 min.
  • Alternating Single-Leg x 1 min.
  • Double Under x 1 min.

Simulated Double-Leg Takedowns

Dashon Goldson Simulated Double Leg Takedown

In MMA, this move is used to take an opponent down to the mat. Goldson performs it to improve his tackling. It teaches him how to get low and use his hips to drive up through opponents. Glazer says, "It's helped his explosiveness. Over the last couple of seasons, we don't need to tell you how hard he hits.


Dashon Goldson Pummeling

The safety position is characterized by one-on-one battles, at which Goldson excels. He has learned how to use his body to win matchups with classic Greco-Roman wrestling techniques. Grappling with Glazer body-to-body and hip-to-hip, Goldson practices getting low and using his leverage to get into a controlling position. "If he understands what wrestlers do, he can throw everyone around," adds Glazer.


Dashon Goldson Sparring

Big tackles make the highlight reels, but intricate hand-to-hand work allows Goldson to provide blanket coverage to block passes and prevent big plays. "If a receiver is going to put his hands on you, then your hands need to be quick to get them off of you," Goldson explains. He regularly spars with Glazer, throwing combinations of jabs, hooks and upper cuts to improve his hand speed, shoulder strength and hand-eye coordination. There's also a conditioning component, so Goldson can maintain his hand technique late in games.

Ready to Run

Glazer designed a hip opener routine that Goldson performs twice a day—once before his workout and again at night. It helps him move fluidly and explosively in every direction on the field so he can cover receivers throughout complex running routes.

Internal Rotation Side Leg Raise

Dashon Goldson Internal Rotation Side Leg Raise

How to: Standing on your left leg, place your left hand on a wall for support and rotate your right foot inward. Raise your right leg out to the side as high as possible. Slowly lower your leg to the starting position and repeat.
Sets/Reps: 1x5 each leg

Single-Leg Glute Stretch

Dashon Goldson Single-Leg Glute Stretch

How to: Standing on your left leg, drive your right knee up as high as possible toward your chest. Grasp your right knee with your right hand and pull your knee to your chest. Slowly lower your leg to the starting position and repeat.
Sets/Reps: 1x5 each leg

Sumo Squat

Dashon Goldson Sumo Squat

How to: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Squat down until your butt is a few inches from the ground. Place your elbows inside your knees and clasp your hands, driving your knees outward. Stand and repeat.
Sets/Reps: 1x5

Check out two more MMA-style pro workouts:

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock