There was a clear objective this off-season at Ignition Athletic Performance Group: transform John Conner into the top blocking back in the NFL.
No reprogramming was required for this training mission, just building on the foundation Conner established last year at the Cincinnati-based training facility where he prepped for the NFL Combine.
The Terminator's preseason performance last year was a smash hit with head coach Rex Ryan and the New York Jets coaching staff, as documented on the HBO series Hard Knocks. Conner doled out crushing blocks, most notably as a special teams player on kick returns. Now he is hoping to assume a leading role in the Jets backfield. The fullback position is his for the taking at the start of this 2011 season.
"My main goal is being explosive," says Conner, a throwback-style fullback. "Football is an explosive sport, and the drills we're doing at Ignition help me become more explosive, which is perfect for the fullback position."
To develop his fast twitch muscles and enhance his explosiveness from a three-point stance—which Conner will assume in the Jets' backfield—Ignition performance director Clif Marshall employed Olympic and traditional ground-based strength lifts as the core exercises of Conner's off-season program.
Olympic lifts—Snatch and Power Clean—were at the top of the workout card each day for Conner, followed by ground-based lifts, including Squats and Trap Bar Deadlifts, which required Conner to generate enough force to explosively move the bar, mimicking the movement he executes when driving from his three-point stance.
"This will help John come out of his stance with more 'pop,'" Marshall says. "In addition, we incorporated Squats for speed and a progressive plyometric program that included resisted and assisted Broad Jumps for explosion." [Watch the videos below to see Connor Barwin, another Marshall client, perform some of the exercises.]
Many of these same exercises were part of Conner's Combine training program, with the same goal: developing power for explosive starts from a three-point stance—the movement a fullback makes coming out of the backfield. Rather than accelerating into top-end speed from his stance, Conner works up to the next level of his block, one of the many techniques he refines during on-field skill sessions.
Keep it locked on the STACK Blog for Part II, featuring Conner's boxing drills and blocking skill work. Find out more about Connection Apparel and their training gear on Facebook.
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