Wideout Workout

The Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald tells how he trained to make football's jump of the year
November 08, 2004

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald drew attention when he took the leap from college sophomore (at Pittsburgh) to the NFL (Arizona), but the change in milieu didn't mean a change of habits. "I use the same pen, wear the same pair of shoes and, when it comes to my workout, trust the same trainers," says Fitzgerald, 21, last year's Heisman Trophy runner-up. The 6'3", 223pound rookie swears by strength-and-conditioning coaches Dave Kennedy and Dave Langworthy. When they left Pittsburgh to take jobs at Nebraska, Fitzgerald traveled to Lincoln and worked with them five days a week for eight weeks leading up to the season. The program (facing page) aimed at developing speed, and given Fitzgerald's success--he leads the Cardinals with 371 receiving yards--he may return to Huskers Country. "These guys never stop pushing me," says Fitzgerald. "That's why I always go back to them."

MONDAYS AND THURSDAYS Arrive at gym 6:30 a.m. Do groin, hamstring and general leg stretches with Nebraska football players. Strap into a parachute [1] to do 10 sprints at 30 yards (Mondays) and 10 at 60 yards (Thursdays) with three-minute rests between sprints. "I try to keep my 30-yard sprints under four seconds and my 60s under seven seconds," says Fitzgerald. The resistance of the parachute makes the legs work harder while protecting them. Says Kennedy, "It keeps your gait under control, so you won't overstride and pull a hamstring. And it's the best cost-benefit ratio because you're running the same distance but getting more out of it."

•Sprint from cone to cone [2]. Place three to five cones around the field, 10 yards apart. In mid-sprint Kennedy calls out which cone to run toward. "Change of direction is important," says Fitzgerald. "If you can't separate from defensive backs, you're not going to make it."

•Run up to 10 "gassers." A gasser is sprinting horizontally across the field and back four times.

•Lift weights. Hang cleans: Lift 245-pound barbell to knees. Squat. Bring bar to chest and stand [3]. Three reps is a set. Do four sets. Shrugs: Raise shoulders while holding 150pound dumbbell in each hand. Twenty reps is a set. Do four sets.

•Do lunges. Step forward with barbell behind neck. Three on one leg, three on the other is one set. One set at 365 pounds, three at 385. "It works the quads, hamstrings and glutes," says Fitzgerald. "That's where the power is to make plays."

TUESDAYS AND FRIDAYS Arrive at field at 6:30. Stretch. Catch passes from Nebraska QBs or the Jugs machine for 30 minutes.

•Do 14 cut sprints of 200 yards, in times between 26 and 33 seconds.

•Upper body lifting. Bench Press: four sets of five reps from 315 to 330 pounds. Seated shoulder press: four sets of six with an 85-pound dumbbell in each hand. Dips: four sets of six reps, with a 180-pound dumbbell strapped to waist.

WEDNESDAYS Recovery day. Run two miles. Helps prevent lactose-acid buildup, limiting soreness.

WEEKENDS Rest. "You have only one body," says Fitzgerald. "You have to take care of it."

LARRY'S ANTI-ATKINS DIET

• BREAKFAST

"I fuel up to start the day: a two-egg omelet, a plain bagel, dry with no cream cheese or butter, grits, orange juice and a slice of melon or piece of other fruit."

• LUNCH

"I load up on carbohydrates. Bread and pasta are essential for energy. I also drink a lot of water--about a gallon a day to replenish what I've lost working out."

• DINNER

"My biggest weakness is Popeyes' spicy chicken. I have to have that for dinner a few times a week. If I'm being good, I go out and have some kind of lean meat or fish. Usually turkey, chicken or salmon."

COLOR PHOTOGENE LOWHER/SLINGSHOT (FITZGERALD); B/W ILLUSTRATION ILLUSTRATIONS BY STEVE STANKIEWICZ; COLOR PHOTOCORBIS (BAGEL); B/W PHOTOHULTON-DEUTSCH COLLECTION/CORBIS (PASTA GIRL); COLOR PHOTOFREDDY PEROJO (CHICKEN)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)