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NFL Fit: 4 New Training Upgrades for the 2014 New Orleans Saints

An inside look at four changes that the Saints made to prepare for the new season.
NFL Fit: 4 Training Upgrades of the Saints

More Squats, Heavier Squats

When you think about the New Orleans Saints, you may recall the emotional Super Bowl XLIV win in 2010. Yes, those were the glory days, but let’s not forget just how good of a football team the Saints are right now. After netting an 11-5 record and advancing to the Divisional Round of the playoffs last season, the Saints only lost by a touchdown to the eventual Super Bowl XLVIII champions, the Seattle Seahawks.

The Saints also had some outstanding individual performers during the regular season. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for the second most yards in the NFL last year with 5,162, just a few hundred less than Peyton Manning, and defensive end Cameron Jordan recorded 12.5 sacks, which was fifth most in the NFL, en route to his first Pro Bowl.

At the foundation of the Saints’ prowess on the field is the intensity and leadership of head coach Sean Payton, who leads by example in the weight room and inspires his players to follow suit. “When your head coach is doing power cleans, squatting, or pushing a prowler sled, the players know they can’t complain that the strength coach is making them work too hard,” says Saints strength and conditioning coach Dan Dalrymple. “That really helped us a lot.”

Check out how the Saints incorporated CrossFit-style workouts and brand-new Rogue equipment to take their training to new heights in preparation for the 2014 season. Also, if you think you can handle it, take the Saints official conditioning test and see if you score better than Payton himself!

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A New Type of Training

To get an idea of just how much the Saints train, they lift every day they practice unless they have a game the next day, Dalrymple says. On Saturdays, Dalrymple and staff instituted more CrossFit-style workouts last season that are tailored to their own needs.

“That Saturday workout is a mixture of strength and conditioning elements, and people watching it would say it is a CrossFit-type workout,” Dalrymple says. “We don’t exactly do CrossFit since people who do CrossFit are trying to be fit, and we are trying to be football players, so there are different things that we do.”

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A New Training Facility

The Saints’ home field is the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but their training camp this year took place at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, WV. Normally, the strength and conditioning staff would have to move their equipment from New Orleans to West Virginia, but that changed last year when the team contacted Rogue Fitness.

“In 2013, Sean came back with Concept2 Rowers, and in the process of trying to figure out where to buy more equipment, I came across Rogue,” Dalrymple says. “Between Payton, Kelly Starrett, and I, we got in touch with Rogue and they put together a state-of-the-art, world-class weight room here at the Greenbrier.” Their weight racks, glute-ham machines, Assault Airbikes, Olympic plates, bars, and kettlebells all came from Rogue.

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To rehab his leg injuries he suffered in 2011, Payton took up CrossFit and felt significantly better after doing squats, says Dalrymple. The exercise had a big impact on Payton, and and he wanted to impart that to his players.

“Sean came back last year and said, ‘I want to really emphasize our squat. I don’t want to hear about guys talking about its hard on their back and knees. All I know is that I got stronger in the squat and I got better,’” adds the S&C coach.

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A New Conditioning Test

During each offseason, the Saints perform a conditioning test, and this summer’s test had an added bonus; if you beat coach Payton’s time you win, if you don’t you lose.

Payton clocked in at 5 minutes and 50 seconds in the grueling workout below, Dalrymple says. Here is what the test comprises of:

1 Half Gasser (Run from one sideline to the other then come back.)
Dog Sled Push (sled is loaded with a 45-pound plate and depending on position, a 35-pound or 53-pound kettlebell too)
Push sled entire width of the football field.
10 Kettlebell Goblet Squat with Arms Extended
10 Hand Release Pushups
10 Situps
1 Half Gasser
Dog Sled Push
Push sled back to start line
10 Kettlebell Goblet Squats with Arms Extended
10 Hand Release Pushups
10 Situps
1 Half Gasser

“We time each guy and rank the time within each position group,” says Dalrymple. Give this football workout a shot to get in NFL shape.

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