GREG JENNINGS likens his training to a state-of-the-art electric car: efficient and effective but thoroughly outnumbered by more traditional options.
This is an article from the Aug. 3, 2015 issue
Without cords, plugs and power outlets, the Dolphins' wide receiver charges up his game with elements of CrossFit, a fitness company that has created and popularized a training philosophy that mixes components of plyometrics, gymnastics and powerlifting in intense bursts of multiple exercises. "I got away from a lot of heavy weights, but I didn't lose power," says Jennings. "With CrossFit training, I got stronger with less stress on my joints."
Jennings, who played for the Vikings last year, was introduced to CrossFit by his trainer, Damian Harris, at the Studio Path in Kalamazoo, Mich., and he was immediately intrigued by the high ratio of work time to recovery time. "Your heart rate stays elevated and you work under pressure while being mentally and physically fatigued," says Jennings.
His high-intensity sessions include a combination of CrossFit fundamentals—burpees, kettlebell swings, box jumps, rope swings and more—repeated over a fixed time. Harris is also mindful of avoiding any exercises for Jennings, such as the clean and jerk, that could aggravate his prior injuries.
"When everyone is tired, Greg should be gaining momentum and at his peak performance at the end of a game," says Harris. He also specifically strengthened Jennings's weaker areas, such as his hamstrings, which are susceptible to wearing out late in the season. "We decided he needed to be lighter, faster and more explosive," Harris says.
The rapid-fire circuits force Jennings to control his breathing and focus on a task, be it a clap push-up or a sideline catch. "Everyone feels the weight of the game and gets fatigued," says Jennings, "but it's all about how you've dealt with it in the past and what you've done to help yourself overcome those mental barriers."
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THIS WEEK'S ATHLETE
"I competed in my first triathlon in 2009 at 43 and have since completed more than 30 events. Next year, for my 50th, I hope to complete an Ironman, making me the first person with dwarfism to do so."
Training for something? New workout routine? Share your photo and what you're doing with us on Twitter/Instagram with #trainingwithSI, and you could be featured in an upcoming issue.
Try one of Jennings's circuits: Do 10 reps each of push-up side planks (right), burpee pull-ups, box jumps, squat thrusters and clap push-ups (see SI.com/trainingwith) for as many rounds as possible over 20 minutes. Greg's record is 18 sets—can you beat it?
Perform a regular push-up with your hands on dumbbells.
Holding the position, row a dumbbell up to the side of your chest.
Shift your weight and twist, lifting the same arm until you're in a side plank.
For more athlete training profiles and tips, go to SI.com/trainingwith