Wed to Fitness

An NFL safety and a world-class javelin thrower share their regimen
December 12, 2005

BRIAN RUSSELL is a cornerstone of the Browns' defense. His wife, Leslie, is an Olympic-caliber javelin thrower who went to the U.S. trials in 2004 and may be in the '08 Games. They met in '01 when both were at San Diego State (Leslie was an All-America heptathlete), and to this day they train with Rahn Sheffield, the Aztec track coach who helped Brian prepare for the NFL combine. Sheffield, who trains track stars and NFL players such as Ravens' Will Demps and Patriots' Tim Dwight, aims to develop speed. He stresses, among other things, repeated sprints of varying lengths, and says he wants to "condition the athlete for any condition." The Russells' six-day workouts are similar but are tailored differently. Here's a look at each of their three toughest days. Brian does his pool drills on Fridays, Leslie does hers on Wednesdays.

Water Torture
The Russells do up to 75 minutes of drills in a four- to five-foot-deep pool. "Nasty," says Sheffield. "It's overall conditioning that is harder than the weight room."
PHASE 1: Standing, begin with left-leg bounding (submerge body, then explode up on left leg), then right-leg bounding, double-leg bounding and alternate
leg bounding. In each exercise travel length of 50-meter pool.
PHASE 2: Run in place for 15-30 seconds, moving from half speed to full speed. Four times.
PHASE 3: Roll submerged arms in circular motion (windmilling like a ref's illegal procedure call) forward, then backward for 20-30 seconds.
PHASE 4: Scissors kicks: Back against pool wall, legs extended forward, open and close legs. Three sets of 25.
PHASE 5: Flutter kicks (hold onto side of pool, belly down, and kick legs as fast as possible. Three sets of 45 seconds). Bicycle kicks (face up, extend legs as if riding a bike, three sets of 45 seconds).
PHASE 6: Swim 25-meter width of pool underwater. Four sets of six laps. Builds stamina.



Sheffield alternates longer and shorter sprints for greater speed endurance. Three to six minutes between sprints. •400 meters (in 60 seconds), 100 meters (11 seconds), 300 meters (42), 150 meters (17), 200 meters (24), 120 meters (13). Says Brian, "Track days are brutal. At a lot of workouts I've thrown up."

•15-minute hill road run, two miles.
•Hurdles: Jump over 12, 42-inch-high hurdles each a yard apart. Two sets of eight. Improves explosiveness.
•Hip flexor drills: Stand sideways to the front of a 12-hurdle set. Swing one leg sideways up over each hurdle. This helps with strength and hip flexibility.
•Spider walks: Face the hurdles, hands behind head. Walk over the hurdles on tiptoes. Helps balance and builds calf muscles.
•Acceleration sprints: 80 meters; 40 at 75% speed, 40 at full speed. Six sprints.

•Sled drags: Run 40 meters with a 35-pound weight attached to waist. Do eight times.
•Bounding (run in long, high strides): Eight 40-meter bursts. Two-minute rests. Builds neuromuscular stamina.


•Two 600-meter runs at 75% speed. Rest eight minutes after each run.
•Three 300-meter sprints in 51 seconds. Rest one minute after each.
•Three 300-meter sprints in 48 seconds. Rest five minutes after each.

•15-minute hill road run, two miles.
•Hurdles: Jump over eight hurdles placed about a foot and a half apart. Three sets. Leslie starts off jumping over 30" hurdles and moves up to 36".
•Box hops: Jump on top of a foot-high box, then jump forward off it. Do three sets of eight and three sets of 20. Rest 90 seconds to two minutes after each.

•Sled drag: Run 40 meters on grass with a 25-pound weight strapped to waist. Do eight times.
•Resistance free: Remove weight and do eight 30-meter sprints. Rest two to three minutes after each sprint.
•Bounding (run in long, high strides): Eight 40-meter bursts. Two-minute rests. Builds neuromuscular stamina.