I was fortunate enough to have a very unique experience in high school, which later fueled my obsession with fitness and training to maximize my own potential. I attended IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida which is one of the top training facilities in the world for pro athletes.
Some of the top NFL, NBA, MLB, tennis, golf, track, and soccer stars from around the world would come and train at my high school.
My basketball coach in High school trained more NBA players than anyone else in the world at one point – and I got to see up close and personal what it takes to be an elite level athlete in all sports.
Although I was a basketball player I was always in awe when I saw the NFL players come into the weight room and throw around huge weights.
I remember seeing NFL Tight end Ben Watson bench press 315 lbs. on the incline like it was a piece of cake. I remember seeing Anquan Boldin run at the speed of sound, while having the physique of a fitness model.
These NFL players seemed almost superhuman to me. They were athletic, fast, strong, and looked powerful. I became obsessed with maximizing my own physical potential after attending IMG academy and seeing some of the world’s top athletes train.
Although I was years away from being even close to their level – nothing gets you closer to your goal than motivation and passion!
I want to unveil some NFL superstar workouts in this article. I became friends with some of the top trainers to the stars over the years – and they shared with me some of the off season training workouts of JJ Watt and Adrian Peterson.
These 2 NFL stars both dominate the NFL in their respective positions. They are explosive, fast, strong, and aesthetic.
I know I personally learned a ton from seeing NFL stars train up close in high school – and I’m confident you will have a few new tricks up your sleeve after reading this article and learning the training secrets of 2 of the NFL’s biggest stars.
#1: Fast Twitch Domination
Both Adrian Peterson and JJ Watt train their body’s fast twitch muscle fibers 2-3 times per week during the offseason.
In case you didn’t know – your body contains three types of muscles fibers and two types of fast twitch muscle fibers – Type 2A, and Type 2B. Depending on the duration and explosion needed to perform a specific activity dictates which muscle fibers are activated.
NFL superstars and power lifters have a lot in common actually – as they are both highly trained fast twitch athletes. Think of these types of athletes as the polar opposites of slow twitch athletes such as long distance runners, cyclists, and swimmers.
Slow twitch athletes work their type 1 muscle fibers, aka slow twitch. Long bouts of low to moderate intensity exercise is Type 1 muscle fiber training. Maximum intensity shorts bursts of energy such as weight training, jumping, and swimming is type 2 – or “fast twitch” muscle fiber training.
When you are performing a maximum intensity activity such as high box jumps, or sprints you are firing off your Type 2B muscles fibers. These are the muscles fibers that fatigue the quickest – but help you the most with power and explosion.
It’s no secret that to be an NFL superstar you need to have power, speed, and explosion. You achieve this with Type 2 muscle fiber training.
Adrian Peterson will dedicate an entire workout to his fast twitch speed training. He will start off running 50 yard sprints to get loose. After AP is nice and loose he will transition into 75 yard and 100 yard sprints. To end his workout, he will perform sprints with a weighted sled or a speed parachute to add extra resistance. AP will perform up to 15 total sprints per fast twitch workout.
JJ Watt is not a running back, so does not require his sprinting workouts to be as long. Since JJ Watt is rushing the QB at maximum speed and voracity – he will rotate between 20 and 40-yard sprint intervals and perform up to 10 per workout.
He will also use the weighted sled and speed parachute – and has been training with these tools since High school. No doubt this helped JJ Watt run an incredible 4.5 40-yard dash at 280 lbs.
JJ Watt is also huge on weighted Db jumps and superhuman box jumps. In fact – JJ Watt recently landed a 61 inch box jump!
#2: Compound Confusion
Another unique aspect to NFL Superstar training is the different types of compound exercises they incorporate. Since NFL players have to be equally athletic as physically impressive – they incorporate a lot of stability and balance into their basic compound movements.
JJ Watt and Adrian Peterson have to twist and rotate their body into a thousand different angles and positions throughout an NFL game. This means that their training needs to incorporate some element of instability.
JJ Watt and Adrian Peterson will both perform a lot of stability ball presses instead of doing standard flat barbell presses which require no added balance or stability.
Another way to maximize the effect of compound exercise training is to think outside the box with basic exercises. Instead of performing a lot of basic compound movements like the squat and dead lift – AP and JJ Watt will take it to the next level and actually make these movements harder!
For example – Adrian Peterson performs heavy front squats – which are much harder than regular barbell squats and place more overload directly on your quadriceps.
JJ Watt’s go to is Stiff Leg Dead lifts – which place more overload directly on your hamstrings.
Don’t be afraid to change up your boring compound exercise routine for a few months and focus on variations such as the Front squat, stiff leg dead lift, and DB stability ball bench press.
This is not only a great way to recruit different muscle fibers you normally don’t target – but phenomenal for blasting through a plateau.
#3: Crazy Leg Days
NFL Superstars are about the last people on earth to skip leg day. In fact – their leg workouts are ridiculously intense.
For guys like JJ Watt and Adrian Peterson – they make their money with their legs. The more explosive, fast, and powerful the lower body is of a football player will dictate his on field success.
JJ Watt and Adrian Peterson attribute their success on the field to their incredible lower body strength, explosion, and drive. Adrian Peterson uses his world class lower body strength to break tackles, while JJ Watt uses his to push around 330 lb. offensive lineman and sack the quarterback.
Both JJ Watt and AP place so much emphasis on lower body strength and explosion that they admit to working out their legs as much as their upper body.
The magic of full body transformation truly lies within your legs. Not only are these your body’s largest muscle groups but they will help you elicit the maximum hormonal response which translate into more fat burning and muscle building everywhere.
Learn from the NFL Elite and put a huge emphasis on your leg training!
#4: Core Overload
Having a strong core is crucial as an athlete. Its no surprise that JJ Watt and Adrian Peterson place a ton of emphasis on core development. Most guys think of core training as simply working out the abdominal muscles – but core training also involves your lower back, and hip abductor’s.
Adrian Peterson and JJ Watt both perform a ton of weighted abdominal and lower back exercises in their regimen.
For explosive athletes having a strong core is crucial. Not only does this help you with sprinting, cutting on a dime, tackling, and jumping – but its huge for injury prevention.
Some of JJ Watt and Adrian Peterson’s favorite core development exercises are:
Weighted Hyperextension, Good Mornings, Medicine Ball Russian Twist, Rope Crunches, Hanging Leg Raises(weighted), Weighted Planks, and weighted stability ball crunches.
Adding in resistance with some basic exercises like the plank hold and stability ball crunch makes a world of difference when it comes to building the actual muscles of your abdominals.
If you want those 3D looking abdominals that pop out like an aesthetic physique god, you need to steal the training secrets from the top NFL stars and train your abs with resistance!
No more boring stomach crunches on the ground. Work those abs just like you would work your biceps if you wanted them to grow.
#5: Iso-Lateral Training
The last unique training principle that NFL Superstars JJ Watt and Adrian Peterson incorporate into their regimen is Iso-lateral training.
This means that you are working out only one half of your body at a time – and this unique twist places a ton of extra overload on your body and forces your core muscles to stabilize your body throughout the movement.
This is also a great way to train your legs. Instead of doing the standard leg machines with both legs at the same time for example– AP and JJ Watt will incorporate the single leg extension, and single leg hamstring curl.
This is incredibly challenging and will recruit surrounding stabilizer muscles as well as the main quadriceps and hamstring muscles.
Some other exercises you can perform iso-lateral training with are the Iso-lateral leg press, Single arm Db. bench press, Single leg Db Squat, Iso-latereal hamstring stability ball curl, and Iso lateral Pec fly.