Here's Monday - Tuesday
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TEAM: Jacksonville Jaguars
POSITION: Strong safety
HEIGHT: 6'1" WEIGHT: 225
No one outtrains Donovin Darius. The Jacksonville Jaguars' strong safety is his own fitness guru and taskmaster, having created the punishing workout regimen that helps him thrive as a bone-rattling hitter. (His 790 career tackles is a team record.) A workout obsessive since his days at Syracuse, where he got a bachelor's degree in exercise science, Darius, 29, experiments with new exercises (training with an ultimate-fighting champ led him to add martial arts-style punches and kicks to his routine, for example) and jazzes up old ones. Here's a guy who, when he hits a heavy bag to improve stamina, enlists a workout partner to bombard his midsection with a 20-pound medicine ball as he strikes the bag -- thus simulating being blindsided on the field. "I've known guys who've trained with Double-D," says Jaguars linebacker Akin Ayodele with a laugh. "Most come back saying the same thing: 'I ain't ever doing that again.'" Darius, who says his training "helps build the confidence I need on the field," worked out five days a week 9 a.m. to 12:30. p.m. for much of the off-season (weekends he rested).
Bench press: Eight sets of five repetitions, starting at 245 pounds and peaking at 265. Dumbbell incline press: Four sets of 10, starting at 80 pounds, then 90, 100, 110. Decline bench on hammer machine: Four sets of 10 to 12, between 300 and 315 pounds. Nautilus flies: Four sets of 12, at 140 or 150 pounds.
"I wait 45 seconds between each set," says Darius. "I want to see how fast my muscles recover. That's why I always wear my watch when I'm training. It keeps me on point."
Single-leg bound: Push off with left leg and drive right knee up and out, raising right leg as high as possible. Land on left leg. Continue for 25 yards. Change legs and repeat exercise. Do three sets for each leg.
Alternate leg bound: Start with slow jog. Push off with left foot and drive right knee up and out, raising knee as high as possible and reaching forward with left arm. Bring right foot down and drive left knee up and out in same motion while reaching forward with right arm. Repeat for 25 yards. Do three sets of 25 yards each.
Lateral-leg bound: Start in half-squat and drive off left leg to jump sideways, trying to achieve maximum distance on each bound. Continue for 25 yards. Switch legs and repeat exercise. Repeat using both legs. Do three sets with each leg and three with both.
Leap frogs: Spread feet a little wider than hips and squat. Place arms inside legs and place hands on ground between feet. Push off with hands and legs, exploding straight up. Land in a squat with arms in same position. Do this 15 times. Do one set.
Tuck jumps: Stand upright with knees bent slightly and legs shoulder-width apart. Flex knees, drop the hips and swing the arms backward at the shoulders. Squat down 10 to 12 inches and without pausing reverse direction and explode upward while swinging the arms upward. At peak of jump, pull knees toward the chest (grab your knees, if possible). Upon landing, repeat the exercise. Repeat 15 times. Do one set of 15.
Two forward jumps/one backward jump: Stand upright with feet hip-width apart and arms at sides. Push hips back, flex the knees and swing arms back while moving into a quarter squat. Without pausing in squat, jump forward and swing arms forward in one motion. Repeat again another forward jump, then jump back using the same technique. Repeat for 25 yards.
Reactive step-ups: Stand on step with feet shoulder-width apart. Jump down and immediately jump straight up. Do one set of 20.
Drop jumps: From raised platform or box, drop to ground and immediately jump upward. Do one set of 15.
Split jumps: Assume lunge position with right leg forward and flexed at knee, left leg slightly bent at knee. Right foot should be flat, only the ball of left foot should be touching ground. Using strength of right leg, jump straight up and land in same position. Do this 10 times. Switch legs and repeat exercise. Do one set for each leg.
"With these, you overwork the muscles for a period of time, says Darius. "The jumps help maintain proper technique, form and balance and have a full-body benefit."
Tennis ball drills
Variation 1: Stand five yards from a partner, who is holding a tennis ball. When your partner drops the ball, run and catch it before the second bounce. Do this 10 times.
Variation 2: Turn so your partner, who is holding the ball, is facing your left side. Keep head and eyes straight ahead while your partner drops the ball. Run and catch it before the second bounce. Do this 10 times, then turn so your partner faces your right side and repeat the exercise.
Says Darius: "These improve reaction time and acceleration. The second variation helps peripheral vision."
(Rest time is 15 seconds between sets.)
Hanging leg lifts: Grip a chin-up bar with your arms overhead and your legs extended to the floor. Slowly bend your knees and raise them toward your chest, then slowly extend your legs and return them to floor. Do 10 sets of 10.
Sit-ups on decline bench. Do 10 sets of 10.
Medicine ball: With back flat on floor, hold a ball behind your head with both hands. Sit up, keeping ball overhead. Do six sets of 10.
Says Darius: "Since I know Wednesday is a big core day, I'll do lower abs on Mondays, upper abs and middle abs on Tuesdays."
Catching footballs: Using a Juggs throwing machine, he catches 100 balls. He'll cover phantom receiver routes, going as far as 40 yards downfield, or stand 10 yards away and catch balls fired at 60 miles an hour. "I started doing this after the 2003 season," says Darius. "I realized I needed to create more turnovers. My kids [he's holding Zakee, below left] feed the machine, and I pay them a couple of dollars."
Two 150-meter sprints. Run each in less than 17 seconds. Rest three minutes. Three 200-meter sprints. Run each in less than 24 seconds. Rest three minutes. One 300-meter sprint. Run in less than 41 seconds. Rest five minutes.
Says Darius: "When I ran track in college, I learned how to build endurance."
Resistance sled drill
1. HAVE A PARTNER stand as shown on a blocking sled -- in Darius's case the partner is 251-pound linebacker Akin Ayodele.
2. CROUCH IN A DEFENSIVE BACK'S STANCE, about one foot from the face of the sled.
3. EXPLODE TOWARD THE SLED, knees and arms bent. Hit sled with palms and extend arms upon impact.
4. DRIVE SLED 15 YARDS. When training without a partner, drive sled 40 yards.
5. DO SIX TO EIGHT repetitions with one-minute rest intervals.
"It's important to stay as low as possible in this drill," Darius says. "If I do that, I'm working on my ability to accelerate."
Similar to running through tires, these drills improve footwork. The primary goal is to pick the feet up and put them back on the ground as quickly as possible. Darius will do as many as five variations, including a backpedal, doing each drill 10 times.
Shoulders: Seated barbell press: Four sets of 12. Dumbbell lateral raise: Four sets of 12. Dumbbell front raise: Four sets of 12.
Abdominals: Hammer machine -- pulling and lifting legs/isolated training. Three sets of 15 or 20. "For the upper and middle abs," says Darius.
Calves: Seated calf raises. Three sets of 20. " When I work my calves from a seated position, I load as much weight as possible," says Darius. "Standing, I mix in some jumping. I try to flex my calves and push myself toward the ceiling, the way a basketball player might try to explode off the court."
Conditioning: Jump rope for 10 minutes.
Stamina: Box with heavy bag for five to seven 90-second rounds, using four different punches and four different kicks. Rest 45 seconds between rounds.
"In the medicine-ball variation, I'm trying to concentrate on what I'm doing while being blindsided by an opponent," says Darius. "It happens on the field all the time, and you have to learn to stay focused while the wind is getting knocked out of you."
Catching footballs: Same drill as Monday's.
Thread: The Workout of an NFL Safety