Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thrive or Die

What happened to training like this in professional sports? I am not asking specifically on the Olympic lifts, but aggressive methods (sprints, jumps, agility, throwing, demanding conditioning, intense strength training) that maintain and enhance an athlete's athletic capabilities, structure, and internal chemistry.

Million dollar bodies? Don't push them?

They are just athletic bodies, yet mortal like the rest of us. For most human beings, after the age of 25 the body begins it's slow decline in function towards death. Ironically, the general population is being told that vigorous exercise is the key to maintaining and improving health and vitality against aging, yet I hear of many professional athletes not training as hard because of the 'wear and tear' of pro sport. I get it, but also, could this mindset be a liability?

I understand training must change and evolve as an athlete ages, but moving vigorously is still the name of the game for many sports, and the principle of reversibility still applies (especially with the slippery slope of aging). The body is not a machine and ultimately break down with use. The right use should build the body up, especially to meet the demands of the game... so goes the principle of specificity.

If any athlete is not prepared or willing to train aggressively, then they must accept it that they will likely be sidelined by injury, or be overcome by an up and coming young hot shot. The way I see it, career success and longevity is just as much about being careful as it is being aggressive.

How about some of the previous generation athletes? Are there still athletes like Jerry Rice, in pro sports? Anybody pushing the envelope? Or just pussyfooting?

Rice Works for Hours And Defies the Years

"It is 7 o'clock and the early-morning clouds have produced a hard, steady rain. Still, the thought of canceling the first half of the daily morning workout doesn't even enter the mind of Jerry Rice.

On this day, five people have chosen to work out with him, to get a taste of one of the most legendary and rigorous workout routines in professional sports, one that normally lasts from four to five hours...

... After running through the rain, Rice makes the five-minute drive in his Mercedes to Fitness 101, a health club about 20 minutes from Candlestick Park. It is Jane Fonda's dream, with just about every piece of exercise equipment imaginable. Rice doesn't waste time and attacks the weights.

And that's what he does -- attack. For about two and one-half hours, Rice works out just about every muscle group there is on the body. He goes through about 15 different exercises, everything from the bench to shoulder shrugs. There are few breaks. The only time he slows down is to laugh at the writer trying to keep up with him.

It is about 11 A.M., and four hours after the workout began, he is done. Well, almost. To end the day, he does the StairMaster for 45 minutes.

The workouts are the key to Rice's longevity and endurance. They are brutal because they are so long. And there is no question that they pay off. When he sprinted up the middle and outran the San Diego secondary for his first touchdown in Super Bowl XXIX, he felt the accelerators kick in. When he separated his shoulder only to return to the game and then actually run over a Chargers player, that's when the weight training came in.

"I never have an easy day," he said, "because there is never an easy day when the playoffs begin."

It is what Rice says now -- sitting on a bench with ice draped around his shoulder -- that may symbolize the man more than anything. "I have to fight for everything," said the man who came out of Mississippi Valley State, a Division II school. "I always have. I have to prepare myself every year. There is always some young guy who thinks he can take me. And then when the day is done, he realizes he can't."

I also highly recommend checking out this video too (the entire video!). It was not by off-seasons of therapy and rehab alone that made Jerry Rice who he was...

Or Walter Payton: "I try to kill myself."
As Al Vermeil has said:
Aggressive and explosive training (with intelligence) is preventative and therapeutic (and anabolic). So is sleep and eating right.


1 comment:

Josh Leeger said...

I love this post, and these videos. This is a lost art in training. Rice ran 2.5 mi up a hill as fast as he could every day. "Aerobic base" anyone? 16 minutes...definitely not so-called "sport-specific" training. But just as important as that stuff.