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Pros vs. Pros

How two top NFL players get into fighting shape
"We've got seven or eight guys all getting ready for fights in the next two months," says Couture. "It's not about proving anything to anybody, it's about pushing each other and making each other better." They get there not only through grueling workouts but also by learning from one of the best about how to dial into the mental aspect of training. "You can't buy Randy Couture sitting down to talk to you about what it takes to be an elite athlete," says Glazer. "Randy talks; you listen."

After finishing their striking session, Leinart and Willis take turns throwing combinations at the heavy bags, punctuating each set with a burpee. Their hips sag from fatigue. Once a bell signals the end of a minute-long interval, each grabs a 150-pound dummy on one shoulder, carries it 20 feet away, throws it on the ground and pounds it, transitioning from side mount to full mount before repeating. Glazer and Couture then hold a taut string a foot off the ground, and the players take turns jumping over it, then sliding underneath. "Patrick says this is easy," Glazer tells a sweaty Leinhart. "Good for him," the QB deadpans. The guys crack up.

Both men have made great strides from their first few sessions in the program. "I was trying to kick, and was just like, 'Fuck this, it's not for me,'" says Willis. "But the more we worked on agility, it really helped. Now I do stretches that before aggravated me a little bit." During one early session, Glazer made Leinart puke from going at full speed for a 10-minute round, with exercises changing every 30 seconds. But he didn't quit. "Afterward, I said to him, 'Do you know what we just worked on?'" says Glazer. "And he goes, 'Everything.' I said, 'No, man. We worked on your heart.'" After that, Glazer noticed a change in his attitude. "The Matt Leinart I knew was some prissy pretty boy who I would love to have fought in two seconds," he says. "But he's not the same Matt Leinart."

After finishing his session in the Octagon, Willis unwraps his gloves and heads over to find Couture. The striking helps him hand-fight with offensive linemen and shed blocks. He has learned not to overlean when trying to push an opponent off of him, using leverage rather than brute strength. Through three weeks in Vegas, Willis shed body fat without sacrificing pounds on the scale. "He didn't lose any weight," says Glazer, "but he added a shitload of muscle." Willis headed to camp in August lighter than his prior playing weight of 240 pounds and found himself more aggressive than in the past. "Patrick is the nicest guy in the league," says Glazer, "but he's become nasty."

At least five other NFL players and the staff of major league baseball's Toronto Blue Jays have contacted Glazer about training with him before the start of the next season. He even got an inquiry from retired NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. It might be hard for elite athletes to trust their conditioning to a reporter, yet Glazer is confident that the results will overcome any misgivings. "If you can check your ego at the door and you've come to work, I will get your career better than it ever has been," Glazer says. "I will change your life."

Check out our exclusive photo gallery featuring Matt Leinart and Patrick Willis training with Jay Glazer, and Randy Couture at MMAthletics in Las Vegas.

For more about the workout that made Matt Leinart puke, pick up our Dec/Jan issue on sale November 23, 2009.


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