Traditionally, fullbacks don’t have much of a reputation for athleticism.
They’re often football’s blue-collar bruisers who are too slow to be running backs, too light to be offensive linemen, and too short to be tight ends. They toil away in relative anonymity, relying on grit and guts over explosiveness and agility. Rarely is the fullback the best athlete on the team. But Tommy Bohanon breaks the mold.
The 28-year-old NFL veteran is a fullback with a six-pack. A fullback who’s clocked a laser-timed 4.6 40-Yard Dash at nearly 250 pounds. A fullback who holds the NFL Combine record for Bench Press reps at his position. A fullback who can block clean nearly 450 pounds and who pulls off pool stunts that would make Aquaman blush:
Yes, Bohanon is a fullback, but he also happens to be one of the most freakish athletes in the NFL. I came across his eye-popping workouts on social media by way of Travis Mash of Mash Elite Performance. A former World Champion powerlifter, Mash is the head coach of Mash Mafia, the most successful weightlifting team in America. He’s also been Bohanon’s personal strength and conditioning coach since 2014. When Mash began retweeting videos of Bohanon’s offseason training earlier this year, I couldn’t help but take notice. Not only was Bohanon crushing outrageously heavy weights, but he was doing it fast. STACK recently caught up with Bohanon to get the inside scoop on his mind-blowing workouts.
Editor’s note: Interview has been edited for clarity.
STACK: When did you first start weight training?
TOMMY BOHANON: I started lifting at about 12 years old, then once I got into high school is when it really took off for me. That’s when I was usually waking up early to go to the weight room before school started and doing our football workouts as well. I’ve always had a great love for the weight room…The results you saw directly transferred from the weight room to the field. Being able to be one of the strongest guys in the weight room usually meant you were going to be pretty successful on the field, as well.
How’d you first start working with Travis?
Funny enough, I actually found Travis by word of mouth. My wife went to High Point University in North Carolina, which is about 20 minutes away from Wake Forest, where I went. I got done with my rookie year and she’s a year younger than me so I needed to find somebody to train with in North Carolina. So I asked one of our good friends that played basketball at High Point that was from the area, and Travis was the first guy that he brought up to me. He had nothing but good things to say about him. So I gave him that first week trial to see if it was something that I really wanted to do, and I instantly fell in love with Travis and his techniques and what he did. So it was kind of a match made in heaven to be honest.
What’s your current routine like?
Our main goal going into the offseason every year is to get as strong and as explosive as possible. Whether that be the Bench Press, the Clean—and we’ll do Cleans for a lot of different angles. We’ll do the Hang Clean. We’ll do the Hang Power Clean. We’ll do some combos and things like that. But it’s all meant to move the bar as fast as possible with as much weight as possible.
(Travis) always gives me guidelines for how fast the bar has to move, or else I have to drop weight. We do have the speed monitors on the end of the bar. It’s all about being as explosive as possible. He really likes to program the Depth Jumps, which is dropping off a box and jumping back up onto one…He’s one of those guys who really takes the time for each and every athlete to program specifically for that person. That’s what I like about Travis a lot.
What bar speed metrics are you looking to hit?
For the most part, with a Bench Press and a Squat, we usually try to stay towards 0.8 meters per second. For the Cleans and the Snatches and things like that, it’s 1.2 meters per second. We want to be more explosive. We’re trying to teach that triple (extension) explosion and get as much force as possible in that short amount of time. There are days where I max out on two or three reps on the Cleans, but it’s always at that speed. If I don’t hit that speed, I have to drop back down. No matter what we’re doing in the weight room, it’s always meant to be as fast and as explosive as possible…(And) I always superset my Squats with a plyometric so I’m getting that immediate result of trying to get up off the ground as fast as possible while I’m squatting.
Do you feel more explosive now than when you first entered the league?
Funny enough, when I went to the NFL Veteran’s Combine two years ago before I signed with the Jags, I improved in every single thing I tested on compared to my rookie year. So I mean, obviously what Travis does works. (And) I feel more explosive now than I did two years ago. I ran a 4.6 on the laser at 245 pounds. I was able to do a lot of different things that ultimately got me signed by the Jags after that combine.
You wear weightlifting shoes with a raised heel during a lot of your training. What’s the idea behind those?
I’m in the weight room trying to get stronger and better for my sport so I’m going to do everything I can to help me stay safe in the weight room. Those Olympic lifting shoes only help that. It helps you get into the different positions and things like that. Now I still do stuff barefoot and I still do stuff with regular running shoes on, but to be safe and to be as efficient as possible in the weight room to transfer over to the field, I’m going to use the equipment that’s specifically used for that lift.
What’s your diet like to support this training?
I try to stay pretty strict. In the morning, 6-8 eggs. I usually mix egg whites with whole eggs—three whole eggs and then three or four egg whites. And 3/4 cup of oatmeal with some fruit and yogurt and usually a cup of coffee. Then I go and run right after that, so that’s my first meal right before I run. I get my workout done and then I grab a protein shake which is usually about 45-50 grams of protein. Then probably about an hour later, whenever I eat lunch, is usually 6-8 ounces of a lean protein, usually grilled chicken or steak or something like that. About a cup-and-a-half of rice, white rice usually, and some type of vegetable.
Then I start my pre-workout routine before my lift. It’s usually some type of carb, a quick carb. Take some type of another caffeine, a cup of coffee or something like that. Then I’ll get my lift in so that I have those carbs so I can fuel myself for the whole workout. My post-workout shake is another 50 grams of protein. For dinner, it’s about 8-10 ounces of lean protein, which is again either chicken, steak or tuna. With about a cup-and-a-half of rice, as well, and some type of vegetable. That’s pretty consistent throughout the week. Then for a snack, I’ll usually grab some type of pretzels at night just to keep my body to where I’m still getting a few carbs right before I go to bed. And I usually drink about 1.5-2 gallons of water a day.
Are there any guys in the NFL you think rival you in strength and power?
There are so many guys who are great athletes across the NFL. So I’m not sure, to be honest. I would like to say I could walk into any weight room in the NFL and match people pound-for-pound to be the strongest, but I couldn’t tell you. I don’t see too many people lifting as much as I do.
You’re currently a free agent. What’s your mindset right now?
I’m gonna be ready for whatever team whenever they call. I’m in the best shape I’ve been in ever. So I’m definitely excited to see where I end up and what team calls first, because I’m going to go out there and workout and hopefully impress them enough to get the job and go out there and impress during training camp…I’m really happy with my results (this offseason) and I couldn’t do it without Travis. He’s helped me from my first off-season as an NFL player all the way until now. He’s been with me all along and I think that this year’s program is the best one he’s written for me.
How can young athletes get the most out of the weight room?
I always talk about setting a routine and being very consistent. Because if you’re not going to work hard and be consistent with what you want to do and what you want to achieve, then they’re not going to happen. I always tell people that if you work hard, you can do anything.
The Tommy Bohanon Foundation recently held their annual free youth football camp. What lessons did you share there?
I always do a speech at the beginning of the day and I try to harp on the importance of education for the kids. I tell them that no matter what they want to do in life, education really is the most important part of their lives right now. If they work hard in the class room, then other things will take care of themselves.
Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images