While most Americans prepare to sink into comfortable couches, overeat, and watch the big game this Sunday with family and friends, there are two teams preparing to compete in the Super Bowl. DeflateGate press conferences aside, the players on the Patriots and Seahawks are getting ready for one of the biggest competitive nights of their lives. Last minute workouts and strategy sessions may make the difference between runner-up and Super Bowl champion. However, in order to make it to the big game, NFL players need to work hard to prepare for a grueling season, compete with some of the best athletes in the world, and ultimately prevail. Today, we salute five NFL players with exceptional workout discipline who have gone well beyond the call of duty to make their bodies a competitive advantage.
Here are 5 Super Bowl Workout Habits of Elite NFL Players
1. Jerry Rice, Wide Receiver
Rice is widely regarded as the best wide receiver in NFL history. He was a key member of three Super Bowl champion teams with the San Francisco 49ers and was selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times in 20 seasons in the NFL. Rice became a legend for his record-setting career on the football field. Off the field, often training alone, he followed a disciplined and intense workout regimen that kept him at the top of his game for such a long period of time. During the off-season, when many athletes rest, Rice had a six-day-a-week routine that he created to keep himself in shape. His typical regimen consisted of morning runs that included sprinting up the steepest parts of hills, and afternoon weight training sessions that were so tough that when his teammates joined him, they would often get sick from the intensity. Oh, and this doesn’t include actual team practices in which he was known for staying longer and hustling harder than anyone else.
2. Rod Woodson, Cornerback and Safety
Woodson was a dangerous defensive player for 17 years in the NFL. He won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, and holds the NFL record for most interceptions returned for touchdowns. Like Rice, Woodson didn’t take time off from staying in shape. Woodson said that during his career, he “maintained a foundation of working out throughout the whole offseason; either riding a bike, jogging on the treadmill or jogging around the neighborhood. I kept a foundation there, so once I wanted to get back into high-core training, I already had a baseline set.” Woodson had a big sweet tooth during his playing days: “I loved ice cream, I loved chips and I loved candy,” he said. Despite his not-so-perfect eating habits, his strenuous workouts kept him in great shape and enabled him to be one of the fastest players in the league.
3. C. J. Spiller, Running Back
Clifford "C. J." Spiller is a 27-year-old running back and return specialist for the Buffalo Bills, who’s coming off an injury-plagued year. Despite this, Spiller is considered one of the fittest players in the NFL due to his speed and jumping ability. He eats healthy, runs hills, pulls sleds, and practices mixed martial arts to improve his conditioning. Bottom line for Spiller: “I do a lot of exercising,” he said. Spiller gets away from chilly Buffalo during the off-season and trains in California. He said, “When I’m in California training, they have the sand dunes and we do a lot of workouts there as well. Even when I do take a little mini-vacation, I’ll wake up early and go run on the beach.”
4. Jared Allen, Defensive End
Allen is a stud defensive end for the Chicago Bears, better known for his years devastating offenses as a Minnesota Viking. Allen is a five-time Pro Bowl honoree with over 130 sacks in his career. At 6’ 6” and 270 pounds, he keeps his power a top priority. Allen focuses on weightlifting during the off-season. His leg squat, power clean and deadlift regimens go into the 300-plus pound ranges. His all-time squat record is 605 pounds. Wow. “I think the most important part of the game for any football player is leg strength. All your explosion comes from your legs,” Allen said.
5. Steve Weatherford, Punter
The punter is perhaps the least respected player on a football squad; however, Weatherford is noted for his epic physique. He is a member of the New York Giants and made critical punts in their 2012 Super Bowl victory, which led Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport to contend that Weatherford should have been the MVP of the game. Weatherford said much of his determination comes from what he calls “little man” syndrome. Weatherford said, “As a kid, I was always very athletic and very fast. I was always good at sports. I wasn’t big and I wasn’t strong. When I was 13, going into my freshman year, I decided that if I was going to be the short guy on the team, I’m going to work as hard as I can to get the most out of my body.” Weatherford stresses the importance of not relying on one’s talent alone. He said, “Ability will only get you so far. It’s all about football all the time. Even though I don’t play an athletic position, I still try to take that same mindset of: If it’s not going to help me get better at what I want to get better at, then I’m not going to do it. I work really hard at my craft, but I also work hard in the weight room, and I’m very disciplined with my diet as well.”
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