Wideout Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best players in NFL history. There’s no doubt about it—the Arizona Cardinals wide receiver has put together one of the best statistical careers of anyone at his position.
But what truly makes him great is the dedication, respect, and commitment he has to the game of football and to his training.
The 6’3″, 220-pound star works his tail off on the practice field—doing anywhere between 600 yards and 800 yards of high-intensity running—and he works just as hard in the gym.
“There are no shortcuts,” Fitzgerald told Men’s Fitness. “If you want to be successful, you’ve got to put the time in with your training.”
Fitzgerald’s dedication to staying in shape is why he’s been able to stay consistent throughout his lengthy career: Before sitting out two games in 2014, Fitzgerald hadn’t missed a start dating back to the 2007 season and he used that as motivation to have one of his most productive years in 2015. The wideout set a career high with 109 receptions while putting up 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns, his highest totals since the 2013 season.
“I like working on the speed and agility aspects of the game because it really, it’s what I do on a daily basis, so I feel like it gives me the biggest advantage,” Fitzgerald said. “Plus doing lifting, box jumps, and squats, but also working on getting to the high point of the football, being able to break tackles, using my stiff arm, things of that nature. I think those are some of the things I know that are going to directly affect my ability to get open and make plays for my ball club.”
Here are the exercises that Fitzgerald uses in his training to stay fit, strong, and dominant on the field.
Explosive Box Jumps
How to do it: Place a box in front of you and make sure it’s high enough that it challenges you. Stand in front of the box in an athletic stance, then bend your knees and hips to give yourself momentum. Jump up onto the box and hold in place for a second, then step back off the box lightly.
What to do: Do six sets of three reps, resting 60 seconds between sets. J.J. Watt also uses box jumps to stay explosive and build strength in his lower-body.
How to do it: Hurdle drills are one of the best ways for wide receivers to increase explosiveness from their lower-body, plus it helps with change of direction and leg stability. It strengthens your glutes and hips, which are key to keeping your legs strong. Line up a set of hurdles at various heights—some high, some low—the alternate going over them and under them. You can maximize the impact of the drill on your hips by stepping over the first one laterally, and then bending your body under the second hurdle.
What to do: Go through the whole line of hurdles six times.
How to do it: Using elastic bands that bound your ankles together, shuffle from side-to-side while staying low enough to duck under a—real or imagined—42-inch high training chute. Focus on using your hips for this drill. Shuffle down 15-feet one way and then go back. The resistance bands will help work the leg muscles.
What to do: Going back and forth is one rep, repeat for eight total reps.
Medicine Ball Situps
How to do it: Lay on an incline bench on your back with your partner standing at your feet. Using a medicine ball, raise the ball above your head with your arms straight, then quickly sit up by contracting your abs and thrusting the medicine ball ahead of your body. Toss the ball to your partner and keep your arms straight during your entire move. Lower yourself to the bench as fast as you can and repeat, catching the ball when you come up. That counts as one rep.
What to do: Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps, resting two minutes between sets.
Ab Wheel Rollout
How to do it: Hold an ab wheel with both hands and kneel on the floor with the wheel in front of your shoulders. Keeping your abs and hamstrings braced, roll forward as far as you can until you feel your lower back is about to sag. Roll back up. That’s one rep.
What to do: Do 3 sets of 20 reps with 60 seconds rest between them.
Plyo Pushups on Plates
How to do it: Using three plates stacked under each of your hands, push you body up fast so that your hands come off them, then clap in mid-air. As an added move, you can also immediately follow 8-10 reps of plyos with a set of regular pushups to failure, which will improve your endurance quickly.
What to do: Do 3 sets of 20.
How to do it: Put a barbell on the floor and then grab it with an overhand grip, while keeping your hands a little over shoulder-width apart. With your back in its natural arch, lower down behind the barbell as if you were going to do a deadlift. Explosively stand up and raise the bar straight up in front of your torso. When the bar reaches your chest level, flip your wrists to face up towards the ceiling and allow the momentum to help you press the bar straight overhead. Reverse the motion to return the bar to the floor. That’s one rep.
What to do: Do three sets of five reps, with a 2 minute rest in between