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Russell Wilson's Football Workout

The Seattle Seahawks passer is one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks. Find out how he prepares his body for battle on the gridiron.

At this point in his career, there's no doubt that Russell Wilson is one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks. Though he was picked up by the Seahawks in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Wilson already has a Super Bowl ring—and with his combination of scrambling speed, throwing power, and accuracy, Wilson's skill under center is hard to match.

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Much of that quarterbacking prowess comes from his hard work in the gym. At 5′11″, 205 pounds, Wilson doesn’t have the frame of giants like Panthers QB Cam Newton—so he works out hard, day in and day out, by mixing up his training using weight work, speed exercises, Olympic lifts, and sprint drills to make sure he's in prime athletic shape.

Wilson’s play on the field makes the Seahawks a perennial Super Bowl contender—and one of the most exciting teams to watch in the league. Here’s the workout that helped make Wilson a Super Bowl champion.

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How It Works

Wilson lifts weights four days per week. His sessions are split up into two speed days and two strength days. The speed days focus on variants of Olympic weightlifting exercises that develop power—this aids Wilson in running, cutting, and scrambling in the pocket.

The strength days include heavier lifts to build greater muscle power, as well as corrective exercises to prevent injury. For example, the dumbbell I-Y-T, band pull-apart, and scap pushup all focus on the upper back. The stronger the muscles around Wilson’s shoulder blades are, the better he can wind up for a deep pass, and the healthier his shoulders will be after hours of throws and brutal collisions.

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Wilson used this kind of training to go from 208 pounds to 216 pounds during his time off from football, combining it with a diet designed to optimize his performance. If the workout below is good enough for one of football's best, imagine what it can do for a backyard quarterback like you.

Directions

Perform each workout (Day 1, 2, 3, and 4) once per week, resting a day between each session. Complete all sets for one exercise before going on to the next.

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Day 1:

1. Med Ball Toss (picture above)

Sets: 3

Reps: 5

Hold a medicine ball at arm’s length in front of your thighs and stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down to just above parallel and then jump. Explosively throw the ball straight overhead. When it lands, pick it up and begin the next rep.

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2. Med Ball Jerk


Sets: 3

Reps: 5

Perform as you did the med ball snatch but hold the ball at chest level.

3. Hex-Bar "Clean"


Sets: 3

Reps: 5

Use a hex bar (also called a trap bar). Stand with feet hip-width apart and bend down to grasp the handles with your lower back flat. Drive your heels into the floor as you extend your hips to stand up explosively. You should come up with enough speed that you rise onto the balls of your feet and shrug your shoulders at the top of the movement.

4. Single-Leg Squat


Sets: 3

Reps: 5 (each side)

Raise one leg straight out in front of you and squat down on the other one as deeply as possible. If you have trouble balancing, you can hold on to a power rack for support or squat down onto a box or bench.

5. Suspended Row


Sets: 4

Reps: 8

Attach a suspension trainer to a sturdy overhead object such as a power rack and grasp a handle in each hand. Walk your body back with legs straight until your torso is 45 degrees to the floor or lower. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and row your body to the handles. Decrease your body angle to make the exercise harder; increase it to make it easier.

6. Cable Curl

Sets: 2

Reps: 8

Attach a curl bar to the low pulley of a cable station and hold it at arm’s length but with a slight bend in your elbows. Make sure there’s tension on the cable. Curl the handle.

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Day 2:

1. Front Squat

Sets: 3

Reps: 5

Set a barbell on a power rack at about shoulder height. Grasp the bar with your hands at shoulder width and raise your elbows until your upper arms are parallel with the floor. Take the bar out of the rack and let it rest on your fingertips—as long as your elbows stay up, you’ll be able to balance the bar. Step back and set your feet at shoulder width with your toes turned out slightly. Squat as low as you can without losing the arch in your lower back.

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2. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (picture above)

Sets: 3

Reps: 5 (each side)

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and extend your left leg behind you. Push your hips back and lower your body as far as you can without losing the arch in your lower back. You should feel a stretch in your hamstring.

3. Machine Bench Press

Sets: 3

Reps: 8

Use a chest press machine and make sure the handles are lined up with your shoulders. Press the handles and lower them until there’s a stretch in your pecs.

4. Dumbbell I-Y-T


Sets: 2

Reps: 8 (each direction)

Set an adjustable bench to a 30–45-degree incline and lie chest down on it, holding a dumbbell in each hand. With palms facing each other, raise your arms straight overhead to form an I shape. Lower them, then raise them out to form a Y. Lower them once more, and raise them out to your sides to form a T. That’s one rep. Be sure to pinch your shoulder blades together at the top of each move.

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5. Band Pullapart


Sets: 3

Reps: 25

Hold an elastic exercise band at arm’s length, hands shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and draw your arms back to form a T shape, as if you were pulling the band apart.

6. Overhead Cable Triceps Extension


Sets: 3

Reps: 8

Attach a rope handle to the top pulley of a cable station and grasp an end in each hand. Face away from the machine and raise your arms overhead with elbows bent. Take a step for- ward to put tension on the cable. You’ll feel a stretch on your triceps. Extend your elbows.

7. Swiss Ball Stability Hold

Sets: 3

Reps: 30 sec.

Place your hands on a Swiss ball and get into a pushup position—brace your abs and hold.

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Day 3:

1. Dumbbell Hang Snatch


Sets: 3

Reps: 3 (each side)

Hold a dumbbell in one hand and stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and hips to lower the weight to just above knee level. Explosively extend your hips and raise the weight straight up in front of your body and let the momentum carry it overhead.

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2. Hex-Bar Clean

Sets: 3

Reps: 5

See Day 1.

3. Stepup

Sets: 3

Reps: 5 (each side)

Stand in front of a bench or box and place one foot on it so that your thigh is parallel with the floor. Drive your heel down and squeeze your glutes as you step up onto the bench, but let your trailing foot hang off the bench.

4. Towel Pulldown

Sets: 2

Reps: 8

Sling a towel around the lat bar at a pulldown station and set yourself up at the machine. Grasp an end of the towel in each hand and pull it down.

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5. Cable Lawnmower Row

Sets: 2

Reps: 8 (each side)

Attach a single-grip handle to the low pulley of a cable station and stand facing the cable with your legs staggered. Grasp the handle with one hand and step back to put tension on the cable. Row the handle to your side.

6. Scap Pushup

Sets: 3

Reps: 8

Get into a pushup position and squeeze your shoulder blades together to lower your chest about an inch, then spread your shoulders to raise your torso.

7. Band Curl

Sets: 2

Reps: Repeat for 30 sec.

Stand on an exercise band, holding a loop with both hands. Curl the band up with your elbows at your sides.

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Day 4:

1. Squat

Sets: 4

Reps: 5

Set up in a squat rack or cage. Grasp the bar as far apart as is comfortable and step under it. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and nudge the bar out of the rack. Step back and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes turned slightly outward. Take a deep breath, push your hips back, then bend your knees to lower your body as far as you can without losing the arch in your lower back. Push your knees outward as you descend. To come back up, extend your hips, continuing to push your knees outward.

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2. Staggered Romanian Deadlift (picture above)

Sets: 3

Reps: 5 (each side)

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your left foot slightly in front of your right. Keeping your lower back arched, push your hips back and lower your torso until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

3. Incline Alternating Press


Sets: 3

Reps: 8 (each side)

Set an adjustable bench to a 30- to 45-degree incline and lie back against it with a dumbbell in each hand. Press both weights up. Lower the lefthand weight, then press it up and lower the right hand; alternate for 8 reps each side.

4. Pushup Complex

Sets: 2

Reps: See below

Place a barbell at about hip level in a power rack and get into pushup position with your hands on the bar (so your body is at an incline). Perform 15 reps and then immediately lower the bar so your torso is at only a slight incline. Complete 12 pushups, then hit the floor for 10 regular pushups.

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