Leonard Fournette is freaky fast.
Last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars running back totaled the two fastest speeds recorded by any NFL ballcarrier.
The fastest speed, 22.05 mph, was achieved on a 90-yard rushing touchdown in week 5, while the second-fast speed, 21.76 mph, came during a 75-yard rushing touchdown in week 6.
After Fournette, the next fastest ballcarriers were Martavis Bryant, Marquise Goodwin and Tyreek Hill.
At 228 pounds, Fournette outweighs them by 18, 48, and 43 pounds, respectively. Like I said—he’s a freak.
When you ask Fournette how he built his blazing speed, the conversation always comes back to track. At St. Augustine High School (New Orleans, Louisiana), Fournette competed in both football and track. Football was always his favorite and his track practices were often punishingly difficult, but he knew the benefit the latter extended to the former.
“I recommend track for all football players, man. No lie, it’s one of the hardest sports I’ve played. It tests you mentally. There were days where I didn’t feel like going to track practice, but I knew it made me a better football player, so I fought through it and kept going,” Fournette recently told STACK. “(You really work on your) takeoff, which makes you faster. I remember in practice, on Mondays, we used to run three 600s. And we had to make each in 1:05. That tested you as an athlete, trying to make it in that time. It was rough.”
Track offers massive benefit to football players, as the sport can help you find a faster running form, build a better burst, run faster with less effort, and achieve a supreme level of conditioning. The fact that it falls in the Spring also makes it a great complement to football, as it still allows players the Winter and Summer to focus on the weight room, if they so choose. For linemen who feel like their body type might not be a fit for the track, field throwing events, such as the Shot Put, can offer great benefit.
This offseason, Fournette looked to take his speed to another level by targeting small yet important muscles in his lower body. To do this, Fournette integrated more band work into his routine. For example, Band Clamshells are now a critical part of his program. The move targets the oft-neglected gluteus medius muscle, which is critically important in stabilizing the hips. More stable hips allow your lower body to produce more power, and strong gluteus medius muscles can help prevent the sort of nagging knee and lower-back injuries that often slow folks down.
“I did a lot of band work (this offseason.) To work on my hamstrings and my glutes, just to get those little parts of my body you really don’t focus on a lot. I really focused on that,” Fournette says. “Band Squats, Band Clams, (having a band around my waist and) Running in Place. There’s a lot I was doing.”
Propelling Fournette’s massive body around at high speed torches a tremendous amount of calories. The running back typically starts his training days with a bowl of oatmeal (with brown sugar), a heaping portion of egg whites, and some turkey sausage or turkey bacon. He’s also made an effort to include plenty of veggies, such as broccoli and spinach, with both lunch and dinner. But Fournette also has to sneak in plenty of protein between meals to keep his body in tip-top shape. That’s where his partnership with MET-Rx has been a big boost.
Long a fan of the company’s Big 100 protein bars, Fournette has also taken to the new MET-Rx Cookie Bites made with whey protein. A serving contains 200 calories, 12 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, helping the beastly back stay filled up and fueled up throughout the day. “The Cookie Bites take it to the next level. They’re more convenient, since I’m an athlete and always on the run with meetings and walkthroughs, and I’ve kinda made them a part of my daily routine. My family is also trying to get in shape and work out more, my uncles and my mother, so I ship them to them, too. I try to spread what helps me get my body in order with my family,” Fournette says.
While Fournette missed weeks 2 and 3 with an injury, he’s raring to get back in the fold for a hungry Jaguars team.
Photo Credit: Logan Bowles/Getty Images