When Pro Football Hall of Famer Reggie White recorded 31 sacks during his first two seasons in 1985-86 — it was super-human. It had never been done before. The record seemed unbreakable.
And then there was Aldon Smith…
The Mizzou standout was drafted in 2011 by the 49ers and came crashing onto the scene. Smith racked up 31.5 sacks in first two years and became the fastest ever to reach 30 (breaking another one of White’s records). All these feats eventually lead to a Super Bowl appearance this past season at the age of 23. But how did he do it?
MensFitness.com recently sat down with Mr. Smith to talk training, records and his trip to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
Men’s Fitness: First off, congrats on the Super Bowl. What was it like reaching that goal at such a young age? How did you guys remain focused during the blackout?
Aldon Smith: It was an amazing experience. New Orleans is such a fun city with great fans and festivities. And getting there that young was ever sweeter. Funny thing is, we’d actually been through the blackout experience before during a game against the Steelers in 2011. We just stayed loose on the sidelines and kept focused on the game at-hand.
MF: What’s your in-season cardio and lifting program like?
AS: At the gym, I usually just lift. I try and do squats about three times per week and perform upper-body exercises four times. As a linebacker, strength is really one of the most important qualities. I get in most of my cardio during practice and field drills.
MF: How do your fitness routine and eating habits change in the offseason?
AS: It doesn’t change all too much. I usually try to remain focused and prepare for the following year. Although, I will cut down on some of the lifting and mix in more cardio. As far as my diet, I bulk up with high-protein meals and drinks lots of water and Gatorade. And don’t tell anybody, but I might splurge every now and again with some Chick-fil-A.
MF: Was there ever a time when you had to overcome a certain on-field obstacle?
AS: Yeah, definitely. I broke my fibula during my sophomore year at Mizzou and missed three weeks that season. People thought I would be out longer, but I rehabbed hard and wanted to prove to my teammates, coaches and university that I could beat the injury. It was awesome that I only missed a few games and was able to get back out on the field.
MF: What was it like beating out Reggie White for fastest player to reach 30 sacks and being named the NFL 101 Defensive Player of the Year?
AS: Both accomplishments were unbelievable. It was really just a proud moment to surpass a Hall of Famer like Reggie White. This game is so competitive and to do something like that in my first two seasons was pretty cool. White has always been a guy I’ve respected and a player that has meant so much to the game.