Regeneration: The Secret Behind Pro Football Players' Longevity

Athletes' Performance expert Roy Holmes shares secrets of how elite football players are able to sustain their performance and extend their careers.

Calf Foam Roll

Have you ever wondered how some great professional football players play past their so-called career average? You may think they have some secret formula for success that only millions of dollars can buy. I am here to inform you that a simple technique called regeneration—"regen" for short—is the key to their longevity.

By definition, regeneration is the act or process of regenerating or the state of being regenerated. What does this mean for athletes? They cannot give their max effort if their bodies do not have time to recover.

At Athletes' Performance, we train our athletes on average for three to four hours a day. We expect them to be at their best each day, which is asking a lot. (Check out AP's Combine Training.) However, we don't assume they will miraculously perform at peak levels, which is why regen is such a big part of our program.

We schedule regen workouts twice a week to give our athletes' bodies the opportunity to bounce back. In addition, we include some type of recovery during each daily training session. And it's not just about training either. Proper nutrition and sleep also facilitate better recovery. (Learn three performance-enhancing smoothie recipes.) The end result: Our athletes are positioned to perform at their peak and reap maximum gains from their training programs.

Here are some ways that we use regeneration techniques to help our athletes recover, improve their performance and help them feel better for the upcoming season.

Trigger Points: Pecs

During a training session the body is put under stress. This often produces trigger points, or what some call "knots." If you have a knot in your shoelace, you need to pinpoint the area and loosen the knot, not simply pull harder. That is how trigger point therapy works—in contrast to static stretching.

Starting Point

Lie on your stomach with a tennis ball under one of your pecs.


Adjust the position of the ball until you find a sore spot. Roll slowly over this area for 60 to 90 seconds.

You Should Feel

An eventual release, similar to a deep tissue massage.

Mobility: 90/90 Stretch

After your trigger point work is complete, your body will feel looser and less resistant to movement. This is the best time to improve mobility. I'm not talking about increasing the flexibility of one specific muscle. Mobility refers to the range of motion at a particular joint or area of the body.

Starting Point

Lie on left side with legs together, knees bent to 90 degrees and pad or towel between knees. Extend arms straight out in front of chest.


Rotate chest and right arm to the right and place shoulder, then back of hand on ground. Keep pressure on pad/towel throughout movement and do not rotate hips. Rotate back to starting position.

You Should Feel

A stretch through your torso and your upper back.

Sets/Reps: 2-3x6 each side

Foam Rolling: Desired Areas

If you are preparing a pizza, you must knead the dough and roll it before it can be stretched. It's the same with muscles. Our muscles are covered by tissue called fascia. Think of it as like a plastic bag over a chicken breast. If you were to massage the bag, you would have to dig pretty deep to affect the chicken.

Foam rollers are effective because you roll a muscle repeatedly under your body weight to break up adhesions. This enhances recovery and improves overall mobility. Find out how to foam roll here.

Flexibility: Hip Stretch

Flexibility is key for any athlete, but don't confuse it with mobility. Flexibility has more to do with the elasticity of a particular muscle group.

Starting Point

Lie on your back and wrap a rope or band around one foot.


Keeping opposite toes pointed up, slowly pull foot with rope across your body. Exhale and hold the stretch for 2 seconds.

Sets/Reps: 1x10 each leg

You Should Feel

A stretch in the outside of the thigh of your roped leg.

Coaches always say, "I need you to give me 110%, and when that is gone, I need you to give me more." If you do not take care of your body, the "more" they're talking about will never be possible. Your body is your business, and if your body can't bounce back from training, your business will not be successful.

Learn more about Athletes' Performance and the professional and elite athletes they support on STACK's Athletes' Performance page.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock