The three mostimportant things in DeAngelo Hall's off-season workout? Core, core and core.The speedy 22-year-old Falcons cornerback--who draws frequent comparisons tohis idol, Deion Sanders--splits his regimen into morning sessions designed toincrease his overall movement ability and afternoon sessions that hone hisupper body. But every exercise is tailored to strengthen his midsection aswell. Hall, like 49ers rookie tight end Vernon Davis (SI, Aug. 21), trains atAthletes' Performance in Tempe, Ariz., and last off-season he persuadedteammate and Pro Bowl tight end Alge Crumpler, and Falcons rookie cornerbackJimmy Williams to join him.
"I feel mywork pay off from the moment training camp starts," Hall says. "I knowwhat it feels like going through two-a-day practices because I've been doing itfor four weeks." Hall, a Pro Bowl selection last season, has fourinterceptions this year and was a major reason the Falcons (3--2) allowed justone offensive touchdown through their first four games before losing to theGiants last week. Here's a look at Hall's four-day-a-week routine:
Hall begins with15 minutes of stretches (11 exercises). He starts simply, skipping whileswinging his arms, then moves into a series of lunges and twists. At left isthe drop-step lunge--back straight, arms extended. The movement loosens the hipflexors, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Hall moves sideways after each lunge,alternating his lead leg until he covers 15 yards (about 16 lunges in all).
Hall's trainer,Ken Croner, sets up a row of five, six-inch-high hurdles, evenly spaced over adistance of five yards. Swinging his arms upward on each jump and never bendinghis legs more than a few inches, Hall hops each hurdle. Extending up throughthe hips is key. Hall lands with his torso vertically aligned and stable andholds the position a few seconds before hopping again. "If he's not stablethrough his midsection," says Croner, "he's not able to land likethat." Four sets of hurdles.
Croner holds abungee cord attached to a strap around Hall's waist. Slightly crouched andconcentrating on moving with his hips, Hall backpedals 20 yards on a diagonal,changing direction every five yards. Four sets at the end of his 75-minutemorning routine help maintain form after fatigue has set in.
•Hall starts hisupper body workout with a warmup in which he passes a six-pound medicine ballfrom hand to hand around his midsection, then around the insides of his legs inmultiple variations (right). About five minutes in all.
•Next Hall doesexercises to train his balance--which comes from a stable core. Croner,standing five yards away, throws a football that Hall catches standing on oneleg, on an unstable surface. Three sets of 10, each leg. Next, Hall catches thefootball in midair while jumping off a stable 10-inch high platform and landingsolidly on the ground. Three sets of five. Then he makes midair catches jumpingfrom the ground onto the platform (right). Three sets of five.
•At arms' lengthfrom a wall, Hall takes turns hurling, from hip level, a nonreactiveeight-pound ball and a bouncy six-pound ball against the wall. The stance(right) gets him to accelerate through his hips. He alternates through two setsof 10; going back and forth between the balls helps him adjust to changes inthe pace of a game.
•A five-exercisephysioball session includes three sets of 12 reverse crunches with the ballbetween his knees (right). Will it hone Hall's six-pack? "Ripped abs comefrom diet and genetics," Croner says. "We're not worried about that. Wewant to build strength."