As the man in charge of one of the top NFL Combine prep programs in the country, Martin Rooney, director of the Parisi Speed School, knows the importance of improving speed and conditioning to bolster the athletic performance of elite football players. Check out this quick rundown of Rooney’s conditioning dos and don’ts.
Warm up before every training session. Start by running for 10 minutes to get your mind right and body loose. In that short jog, you won’t tear down muscle fiber or convert fast twitch muscle fibers to slow twitch.
Condition for what you’re actually going to do when you play. Run drills that are five to 20 yards long, complete them in five to six seconds and rest 30 seconds to recover between reps. Perform a max of 8 to 10 reps, then take some time off before the next set to replicate the time between drives.
A maximum of two to three anaerobic/conditioning sessions per week. You need those other days off to recover from the workout so you improve.
Run all year long to stay fit and work on your technique. Nobody thinks twice about lifting all year, so why should running be any different? If you don’t run all year, when you build more strength from the weight training, you won’t know how to access it when you try to run again, which can be dangerous. As an athlete, your window of time during the four years of high school is so small that you’ve got to be running all the time. It’s insanity not to.
Continue training once the season starts. Get in the weight room and run every week; just drop the amount because of practices and games. You have to keep training, because the most important time of the year to be great is the last game of the season, not the first practice of the summer.
Run five miles or more at a time to get in shape. You never run five miles slowly in a football game, and you’ll just end up wearing yourself down.
Perform the same drills or workouts for all positions or athletes. A 300-pound lineman does not have the same work capacity as a 180-pound defensive back. So train accordingly. If you don’t follow the principle of individualization, someone won’t get better.
Avoid recovery days. Recovery doesn’t mean you’re doing nothing; you’re actually doing the most important thing—adapting from the workout you did. If you don’t allow recovery to take place, you’ll negate some of the effects of your workout and wear yourself out.
Sprint hard every day. Again, you’ll wear down both your nervous and muscular systems. If there’s any decrement in performance, or you don’t feel ready to go on speed day, back off until you feel like it’s time to train hard again.
Hit a hard running session for an hour, then go hit the gym for an hour and a half right away. You won’t benefit from that, because your hormone levels and energy systems are getting torn down. Science across the board continually shows that your workout, not including the warm-up, should last for 50 minutes to an hour and 10 minutes at most.