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!

Advertisements

10 Ways to Make Kicking Your Own Ass Fun: The Runner’s Edition

“You can’t really be strong until you see a funny side to things.”
–Ken Kesey

Let’s face it. Interval training sucks; it’s hard to motivate yourself to do speed work, fartleks are just as hard to do as they are to pronounce, and track workouts haven’t gotten any less miserable since you were in high school rocking short shorts.

There is no denying that picking up the pace a bit will elevate your running. Mixing speed work and the occasional ass-kicking into your routine will improve your running form and teach your body to handle a bit of discomfort by running at faster speeds. In the end, these workouts are the ones that will improve your running more than anything else you will do this week.

While this list doesn’t eliminate 100% of the suckiness involved with getting out the door and giving yourself a dose of run-inflicted punishment, it does give you a few tips for making it more enjoyable. With the right combination of these ten tips, you might just have fun out there!

1.Begin With the End in Mind

Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is a tough thing to do. Pinpointing exactly why you have decided to wreck yourself will motivate you to get out there and do some damage!

Are you having some trouble identifying your goals? There are a wealth of awesome coaching resources to help you identify reasonable goals such as appropriate distances, times and weekly mileage. The following coaches and athletes offer some of the best resources available on the web to help you identify your end goal and stick to it.

Jeff Galloway
Kara Goucher
Dr. Jack Daniels
Greg Mcmillan

Image Credit: http://jillwillrun.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/keep-the-end-goal-in-mind.png

2.“It’s speed work, I’m supposed to run as hard as I can, right?”  Wrong.

Strive to give yourself a minor beating, not a complete stomping in your speed workouts. Don’t go all out, but try to find a level of discomfort that you can maintain. There are all kinds of really nerdy metrics that you can get into to determine the perfect level of discomfort such as VO2 max, heart rate, and other pace predictors.

I prefer to train a level that I call Awkward Encounter with an Ex. This is a level of exertion that you can tolerate for up to five minutes, but anything beyond that is sheer punishment. No one can feign happiness for an ex for more than five minutes, and you shouldn’t have to endure that level of discomfort in your speed workouts, either. So, find a pace you can tolerate for five minutes, rest for two minutes, and then get back out there and subject yourself to that level of pain repeatedly.

long distance running
Puking and passing out from running is not what we are going for, here.

3. Give Yourself Adequate Recovery Time

You can’t subject yourself to the thrashing of a speed workout without being a little forgiving to yourself. Give yourself up to five minutes of rest when running long-distance intervals, as explained in this Runner’s World article.

Poor little guy.

4.Do Your homework – Calculate predicted speeds

The speed workout requires a bit of preparation. While the Awkward Encounter with an Ex level of exertion is a good starting point, you might want to try to plan out this workout and figure out exactly how much you can endure. In the same way that all conversations with an ex aren’t equally awkward, all speed workouts aren’t equally as painful. So, plan out your workouts and calculate the size of spanking you want to give yourself.

Here are some great resources for planning out the pain doses:

Jen Mueller’s Workouts to Increase Speed
Runner’s World Pace Calculators
Runner’s Connect: Ultimate Training Plan to Crush Your PR

5.Train with Friends

You are running in circles around a track, you might as well recruit some of your faster friends to join you for some good old-fashioned punishment. You can admire their superior athleticism as they pull a bit further in front of you on every lap.

Building a community of inspirational runner friends is the secret to staying motivated, as explained in this Active Times article. Friends give you incentives to keep going, and not skip out on that last lap. There is even time to commiserate during the rest intervals as soon as you catch your breath. And, there is nothing like the cool down run with a group of friends when you can bask in the accomplishment that you all endured a solid, self-induced, ass-whooping together.

You bet. Just make sure you get in a few 800 meter intervals on the way.
You bet. Just make sure you get in a few 800 meter intervals on the way.

6. Don’t Skip Speed Workouts

Scientific fact: speed work becomes 4000 times harder to resume after a few skipped workouts. Ok, that number is slightly inflated, only because the perceived pain you feel after taking a few weeks off and then attempting a speed workout cannot be accurately measured or quantified by scientists.

If that isn’t enough fear-based motivation to get you out there, pick up the pace, and make a speed-work schooling part of your regular routine, here are a few tips to from our friends at The Active Times to keep you motivated to run all year round.

Yep. Still Practicing
Yep. Still Practicing.

7. Track your Progress and Embrace your Inner-nerd

Nerds!

Use excel spreadsheets, Iphone Apps, Garmin GPS watches, or whatever nerdy tool you need, but chart your workouts. After a few weeks, you will notice a difference and you could probably even chart it on a graph depending on your level of nerdiness. Speed workouts are only fun because you can quantify your improvements.

Warning: this practice is addicting and leads to annoying run achievement posts on popular social media sites.

Some of our favorite tools to really geek out with include:
Garmin Forerunner 15
Mio Fuse
Microsoft Excel

8.Make it a Game

Face it– you are more motivated by video games with vampires, emojis, and zombies than any inspirational quote anyone could ever tell you.

Here are some of the best apps out there for making your speed workout fun this week:

Zombies, Run! Go out there and spend thirty minutes getting chased by zombies and tell me you aren’t having fun.

Run your brains out.
Run your brains out.

Gym-Pact: Bet on your own success. Hold yourself accountable by giving yourself monetary incentives to work out. Sounds exciting.

9.Use Technology

The internet now is more omnipresent than air, so you should be take advantage of that technology while you are gasping for breath. We particularly like these three apps to keep you going:

Tabata Pro: Interval timers that are easy to set up and speaks to you when it’s time to rest or speed up.

Run Coach: Does all the things we’ve been discussing here, it gives you workout plans, tracks progress and even provides nutritional tips.

TempoRun: This app helps you sort your songs by tempo and then serves up songs that match the exertion level for that day’s run. Let’s categorize “Eye of the Tiger” as an 11, so make sure your play list doesn’t make you turn it up to 11 too often.

10.Remember- This is the Shortest Workout of the Week!

Speed work is short and sweet. The good news: you shouldn’t run for more than four miles at a high exertion level. Doesn’t that fact alone make you want to pick up the pace a bit?!

Parting Inspiration
Parting Inspiration