The Lineman’s Guide to Cutting Weight: Fitness After Football

by Myles McKee-Osibodu

If you’ve played football at any level, you understand the expectations and pressure put on athletes to be able to gain or drop weight quickly. While these pressures can be felt at every position, there’s no position groups that feel these demands more intensely than the offensive and defensive line, where size matters almost as much as talent. I’ve spent the last few years of my life as an NCAA Division I student-athlete, but it wasn’t until football was over that I was finally able to achieve my fitness goals.

First Things First

So I don’t think it’s a secret that a lot of football players (especially the dudes in the trenches) are just wired a little differently than your Average Joe. You’ve gotta be a little bit insane to voluntarily sign up to commit 40 to 50 hours a week (not including school or work) to a jam packed schedule of workouts, 4:45AM wake-up calls, film sessions, training room work, practices, meetings, yada yada yada, all for the reward of bashing your head into another 300 lb grown-ass man over and over again… but for whatever crazy reason, we did that… And that madness instilled a mindset in us that is different than most. A mindset that allows you to face any challenge and attack it without hesitation. The mindset that allowed you to achieve your goals in football is the same mindset that its going to take to achieve your goals after football. Commitment, self-disciple, and a whole lotta that WORK. Easy as that. And just like in football, you’ve gotta have a game plan.

Game Plan

Through hard work and dedication, I’ve been fortunate enough to drop 70+ lbs (in under 7 months) twice in the last 4 years and the things I can point to that contributed the most to my journey were:

  • Intermittent fasting
  • Working out with purpose
  • Keeping your eyes on the prize

Intermittent Fasting

You’re a former lineman. You love to eat. I get it. But believe me when I tell you that even though it sounds pretty intimidating, intermittent fasting is going to be your best friend in this whole process. In fact, if you do it right, you can still eat a lot of your favorite not-so-healthy foods somewhat regularly.

Contrary to popular belief, the entire idea behind intermittent fasting is NOT to starve yourself. With intermittent fasting, you’re still supposed to take in the same amount of calories you would normally, but instead of taking in those calories through the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner, you instead give yourself a 4-8 hour window (depending on what you can handle) each day where you scarf down an entire day’s worth of calories. After a few weeks, your body will eventually get used to your new eating pattern and you’ll start to not even get hungry outside of the window that you’ve set for yourself. Not only does intermittent fasting offer weight-loss benefits, but there are also cognitive and cell restoration benefits that come along with fasting regimens as your body enters into a state of ketosis.

As great as the benefits of intermittent fasting can be, it is definitely something that you shouldn’t jump into without doing your research first and making sure it’s the right weight loss method for you. Below are a few links to videos and podcasts to help you begin your research and better understand exactly how intermittent fasting works.

Working Out with Purpose

So obviously, throughout this process, your workout regimen is going to need to be pretty gnarly if you want to see real results fast. It’s crucial that you’re able to hold yourself accountable to not only get in the gym everyday, but also to work your ass off while you’re there! You don’t have your coaches to yell at you anymore, no more teammates to hype you up when you’re not feeling it, no real consequences for skipping a workout. IT’S 100% ON YOU NOW!

So now that you’re in the gym, you’ve gotta figure out how to transition from the year-round swoll-sesh that is lineman workouts into a workout that’ll get you slim and trim. I get asked all the time what my workout routine is and the answer varies but the one thing that is always a constant is CARDIO! I know… as a big guy, cardio is your worst nightmare and rightfully so! Even when you drop the weight, cardio still sucks but like I said before, you’ve gotta embrace the challenge! If it was easy to drop 85 lbs, everybody would do it!

While I 100% encourage you to attack the gym, it’s important to make sure you’re smart about your cardio and that you don’t try to do too much too fast! You can definitely put yourself in some sketchy situations if you’re going all out too early in the process. Nobody wants to be the guy that passes out at the gym because he was hitting the elliptical too hard so make sure you know your limitations, but cardio definitely needs to be the focal point of your workouts. Everything else is supplementary. You’ve been big as hell your whole damn life, you don’t need to lift anymore! Go ahead and hop on that treadmill big fella!

#NipSlip

As many big guys do, I’ve always had some pretty serious knee issues and I know jogging isn’t too easy on the ol’ joints, especially when you’re pushing 300 pounds. I’ve found that the stationary bike is a great alternative to the treadmill and a much more comfortable place to knock-out a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session. I bike at least one hour (22-25 miles) on the stationary bike 5 to 6 times a week, alternating between 30-second and 90-second working sets with 30-second resting sets in between. It’s the worst thing in the world for the first few weeks but it’s a freakin’ game changer once you start getting comfortable with higher-intensity cardio! Find some good thermogenic pre-workout, search for a good playlist, and get crackin’ on that thing!

Example of how to do a HIIT workout on a stationary bike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh8VswzWDow

Shoutout Brio Fitness ????????????

The first month or so of  daily cardio is gonna be killer on your lungs and your legs. Your heart is going to be beating through your chest. You’ll probably be the sweatiest guy in the gym and I promise it won’t be a pretty sight. But as you gradually start to shred more and more, you’re gonna realize how worth it it was and be stoked that you did it!

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Just like chasing any other goal in life, its super important to be able to see the big picture and remember what you’re working towards. The biggest challenge you’ll face in this whole process will be the mental battle you’re going to be fighting with yourself to keep pushing your limits. It’s key that you don’t let yourself get discouraged or lose sight of your goals if you aren’t seeing the results that you want right away! Keeping the right mentality can make ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

You’re not gonna lose 10 lbs in a week and you might not even lose 5 lbs in a week, but you’ve always got to remember to keep a level head, put your head down, and keep on grinding! You’ll only get out what you put into your workouts and dieting, so if you give a shitty effort, you’re bound to get shitty results. At the end of the day, nobody else can want it for you. If you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen! No excuses.

I hope this helps you in your journey! Good luck, be smart, and get after it!

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5 Easy steps to getting in decent shape without stepping foot in the gym

Are you finally ready to get into decent shape? Like not totally ripped but at least lose some of that flab and maybe put on a little muscle? Cool, me too. Only thing that was holding me back was the fact that I hate gyms and the people I see in there (no offense), also I had a girlfriend so what was the point of working out? I can’t think of a place on earth I feel more out of place than a public gym. All those confusing machines that I feel like I never use correctly, and those judgmental stares I receive as I try and figure out what the hell I’m doing. So I came up with my own workout plan that doesn’t require going to the gym at all and it has worked out pretty well. By pretty well I mean people have mentioned to me “Hey Hank you’re looking pretty good” which is about all I was shooting for. So if you want people to say that to you as well then follow these steps.

#1 Look at yourself in the mirror, judge yourself
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You’re better than that. That’s what you should be thinking when you see yourself, cause you are. Maybe even find a scale and weigh yourself no matter how depressing it may be. Now you know where you’re at and if you do what I say in the rest of this post than it will only get better from here. The only workout partner this requires is you so will receive no judgements from anyone except yourself. You can even take a picture of how gross you look so you can really monitor your progress, though I don’t do selfies so I wouldn’t say this is required.

#2 Cardio, just do it

It sucks a lot but you gotta do it. Just know that it only gets better the more you do it. Get out there and go for a run or a nice long bike ride. This is the best way to start shedding some pounds and working off that extra winter layer you may have acquired over the past few months. Do what you can at first but make sure you are pushing yourself more and more every week. Once you have been doing this for a few weeks you should be able to bust out 3ish miles 3-4 times a week. Eventually you may even start to enjoy going for a run but no promises.

#3 The basic home workouts

push up
Push ups, sit ups, planks, and pull ups if you have a bar are all fantastic easy workouts you can do at home to help get tone and build a little muscle. Like I said before this workout plan is not going to turn you into the next Arnold Schwarzenegger but he looks pretty gross anyways. When just starting out see what your max is for each exercise and then try to build on that every week. When you can start busting out four sets of 25 push ups and sit ups then you are making some progress. Try and get the exercises 4-5 times a week to really make them work for you. Summer is a mere few months away so really start cranking on these.

#4 Don’t eat like an idiot
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It really isn’t that hard. Watching what you eat is one of the easiest things you can do, all it takes is a little self-discipline. Seriously, just don’t be an idiot when you do your weekly trip to the grocery store. Make a list of healthy foods and stick to it, lots of fruit and veggies, maybe some chicken and beef to keep the protein up. It’s a lot easier to eat healthy when all you have around the house to eat is healthy food. Carrots and humus are a great snack, bananas and apples with peanut butter is also another delicious option. Now I know I’m guilty of the late night trips to the store to get some Ben and Jerry’s (chocolate chip cookie dough preferably) late night but let’s try and keep those trips to a minimum.

#5 Make sure you actually keep it up

This is the most important of all the steps. Since this isn’t always the most rigorous workout routine it’s very important to not let yourself slip up too much. It’s easy to let a long weekend carry over into a busy week and before you know it you’ve been eating snack food for days on end and haven’t broken a sweat in a week. Don’t let this happen to you, you’re better than that. Now go out there and make yourself better!