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Ray Rice is Ready to Lead the Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens running back takes a break to talk to MF about how CrossFit got him in the best shape of his life, how he uses nutrition to boost his performance, and why he thinks he’s ready to take over from Ray Lewis as the leader of the Ravens.
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MF: How are you feeling this season?

RR: I’m healthy. I can’t complain. Just trying to get us to the Super Bowl.

Last season the Ravens got so far. You guys really did everything right, and then it came down to a field goal. How do you muster up the energy to go through another season after that?

When you get close and don’t get what you want, you’ve got to get the urge to try to get it again. It’s sort of like getting a taste of some good food and you want that taste again and obviously you want more the next time. So that’s how I always muster up the hunger to go back. I’m never just satisfied. I never get complacent with success and you’ve always just got to stay hungry.

Is there anything the team did differently this season?

I think last year we did everything we could to be the best team we could be. When you drop a few games you learn from them. But, when you get to the AFC Championship, or you get into the playoffs for 4 years, that’s not by mistake. That’s from hard work and everything else.

What does your strength-training regimen look like? How often are you in the gym, and what are you doing in there?

In the off-season I do a lot of powerlifting. Especially coming out of the season. I’m working out four days a week and I use one day as a recovery day. On Wednesday I get a massage, deep tissue, just to work everything out. But I do a lot of powerlifting and a lot of explosions and a lot of CrossFit now. A lot of guys are getting into that. So that’s really how my routine goes. The CrossFit was very new to me, but one thing I learned about it was it was a change of pace. So when I stopped doing my powerlifting, I went into CrossFit, and CrossFit, obviously, was different because you’re just non-stop. You keep going and it wasn’t as long as my powerlifting sessions were, but it did get me in great shape.

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Is CrossFit something you’ve continued to do in the regular season?

Oh, no. You have to put the breaks on it during the season. One thing that I did, in terms of my training, was I tried to get myself in the best shape possible. And the only way to get in football shape is to play football. But I did come to camp with great cardio conditioning.

Are there other guys on the team who did CrossFit with you or is it something you did on your own?

No, it was something I did on my own. I trained up in New York. And the whole team comes back in great shape. Everybody has their own program. The greatest part about being a pro is you get to find what works for you. This past off-season I did CrossFit, I did some boxing, I did sand workouts, and I did pool workouts. I did as much as I could.

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Which was the most challenging of those workouts?

The boxing was great. You know what? If anybody thinks they can last in the boxing ring for that long—three minutes—it’s the hardest thing ever. But I try to incorporate football into my boxing so I will do ladders and then I’ll have to do like a set of jabs, or hook and jab combinations. And you’re always moving, non-stop.

What are your pool workouts like?

The pool was more of a therapeutic thing. It’s mostly for injury prevention. You get in the pool and you’re working every muscle without straining anything. That was definitely one thing that got me stronger. When you come out of a long season, one thing you want to do is strengthen up the muscles that were weak, so when you go out there and you’ve got to perform at a high level, you can be strong. The pool was definitely a change of pace. It was tiring, but the amount of work you get done in the pool in a short amount of time was really the biggest thing for me.

What kind of exercises are you actually doing in there? How are you creating resistance?

You start with a dynamic warm-up in the pool, and then you’re doing jumps, you’re obviously swimming down the lane and back, and you’re working the legs. As far as the cardio, we would do timed sprints on the shallow end, getting down and back as fast as possible, doing it for time. That was definitely a different kind of conditioning because your lower body is working so much harder because you’re in the water.

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