TEAM: San Francisco 49ers
POSITION: Tight End
"AGGRESSIVE,INTENSE and raw," is how Davis describes the two-a-day, 90-minute,core-strengthening workouts he began doing six days a week at the Athletes'Performance Institute, in Tempe, Ariz. Over six weeks leading to the NFLcombine, the regimen helped Davis lower his time in the 40-yard dash from 4.56to 4.38, increase his vertical leap from 40 to 42 inches and gain nine pounds.The 49ers took him sixth overall. "We wanted to intensify Vernon's corestrength by increasing his mobility and stability," says Luke Richesson,Davis's trainer at API. "He uses his overall power from the core to protecthimself when he's going for the ball."
Davis does threeor four sets of each exercise, focusing in turn on different muscle groups sohe can work longer with less fatigue. The former Maryland star is an idealpupil because he's a stickler for taking care of himself. "Eat right, getenough sleep and remain stress-free," says Davis, who sleeps eight hours anight and closely monitors his diet (box, opposite page). "If I'm groggyand stressed, I don't eat right. That's when my core gets weak."
DRILL (Daviswears a weighted workout vest; the extra resistance, 100 pounds in his case, isoptional.) Grip handles with palms facing inward, arms extended. Pull upwardsteadily, through a full range of motion so that chest reaches height of hands.Four sets of eight. CORE FACTS Keeping the body controlled--never swing or moveabruptly--engages the entire core. The exercise also works lats and biceps.
1. Keiser SquatMachine
DRILL Squatbeneath pads and grip handles (far left). Explode upward to standing position.Drop back quickly into squat and repeat. Four sets of six reps. Air resistanceis set to the equivalent of 250 pounds on a standard squat machine. CORE FACTSRichesson (watching Davis) considers this the single best exercise for workingthe glutes and the entire core--a great way to enhance Davis's ability to breakswiftly off the line or separate from a linebacker. The key is to do each repat high speed. Davis prefers a machine to free weights because he can rise asquickly as possible with no fear of the weight shifting or the bar flying offhis neck and interrupting his rhythm.
DRILL Cinch beltaround waist with bungee cords attached to a base for resistance. Crouch intositting position, hips back, arms at side, torso straight up. Jump as high aspossible, extending body so that it's straight, and whipping arms up overhead.Land in takeoff position. Four sets of eight; can also be done without bungeecords. CORE FACTS Works glutes, hips and entire core. Enhances ability toaccelerate and leap.
3. Lateral PillarBridge
DRILL With leftelbow and forearm on floor and legs extended, place feet on a vibratingPowerplate machine set at 30 hertz (or put feet on any platform, four inchesoff the ground). Gripping a 25-pound weight against right hip, hold for 30seconds. Switch sides. Four times each side. Davis also does a "linearbridge," facing down with both forearms on ground, feet on Powerplate and a45-pound weight on his waist. Four times. CORE FACTS Develops stability in thehips and throughout the core. Says Richesson, "[Think of] the body as aunit, with the midsection the hub of the unit."
Next Week, Part 3Four NFL stars, each with an appetite for punishment, reveal their mosteffective core exercises.
For more on Davis's training regimen, go to SI.com/players. Follow Davis andthe 49ers, as well as the NFL's other top rookies, throughout the season atSI.com/nfl.