Michael Thomas

Let’s see how many receptions Mr. Thomas gets this year. McCaffrey as well. Both the leading reception leaders of 2019 training like Sprinters rather than doing loads of conditioning work.


Updated: June 26, 2019

Why Michael Thomas Has Been ‘Training Like a Sprinter’ This OffseasonMichael Thomas is a weapon.

From the moment he entered the NFL in 2016, the New Orleans Saints star has decimated defenses. He became the fastest player in league history to collect 200 (then 300) career receptions. He ingrained himself in Saints’ lore, setting franchise records for receiving yards and receptions both in a single game and a single season. And after a year when he led the NFL in receptions and secured All-Pro honors, he’s spending this offseason building himself into something even greater.

“(I’ve just tried to) enhance my weaknesses, watch a lot of film, study a lot of things. See where I could’ve extended plays or did more with the opportunities I had,” Thomas told STACK. “I’ve had success doing what I’ve been doing the past three seasons in the NFL, but (I’m) definitely staying disciplined and enhancing my weaknesses…I feel like you’re always going to find ways to get better.”*

But exactly how is Thomas training to do that? Well, that’s mostly classified. Thomas is notoriously secretive about his workouts, rarely posting such clips on social media. “A lot of guys now, they post videos on the internet where they show their workouts and they try to do all this cool stuff for the internet. I’m more like I want to see if that work really pays off in the fall and (if I’m) adding value to my team,” Thomas says. As for the names of his trainers? Top secret. “The trainers I train with, they’re pretty private,” says Thomas.

But we did get Thomas to divulge one major focus of these clandestine workouts with his mysterious trainers—speed. Specifically, obtaining more of it. Middling speed was one of the few legitimate knocks on Thomas as a prospect coming out of Ohio State, and it’s one reason he fell to the Saints in the middle of the second round. Ever since, he’s been obsessed with addressing it.

“Speed is very important in this league and the more speed you can create, the easier your life is on Sundays,” says Thomas, who believes he’s “for sure” faster today than he was when he first entered the NFL.

“I knew that was one of the things people criticized me about and I took notes on that and I knew I could control what I could control—(but) I only had so much time to do it. I got to work and I’ve been improving. I try to do little things every day to improve…Even If I’m (only) improving half of a precent, I’m always trying to get faster.”*

Similar to NFL running back*Christian McCaffrey, Thomas says track workouts now play a major role in his routine. “Doing a lot of track stuff—I’ve definitely been emphasizing track workouts in my routine as much as possible. You can’t go wrong with that,” Thomas says. "The track sessions will look like a lot of different varieties of sprints, different running drills, distance. Then it’s all about the recovery break in-between each distance that you run…Pretty much the basic stuff of training like a sprinter."RELATED:*Why Christian McCaffrey Is Training Like a Track Star This Off-Season

Recovery is the name of the game when developing top-end speed. Traditionally, football players have a bad habit of turning what are supposed to be speed workouts into conditioning workouts by overdoing the volume and*not allowing themselves enough recovery between reps. The late Canadian sprint coach Charlie Francis advocated running at above 95% of your best performance to develop speed, believing that anything less than 95% of your max is too slow to get faster. When your body doesn’t have time to adequately recover between reps, your sprints get slower and you start working more on conditioning or speed endurance than true max speed.

Inside the weight room, Thomas is after explosiveness. “Doing a lot of explosive work, that translates a ton to the field during the season. Building up your hamstrings, your hamstrings translate to a lot of speed—I do a lot of hamstring work that translates to speed on the field,” Thomas says. “You have to build up that power in your legs.”

He supplements his training with extensive body work, an approach partially inspired by the incredible longevity of his ageless wonder teammateDrew Brees. “I feel like a lot of people forget about getting body work—massages, sauna, ice tub, hot tub, pre-hab stuff, doing all that stuff is really important,” Thomas says.

"When you get drafted to a team like the New Orleans Saints or a team in the NFL, the best thing for you to do is find the guys that do it right and the guys that have done it for a long time at a high level. I watched Drew a lot and he kept me honest. I saw the things he did were working and I kinda just followed suit and took his lead.

[u][b]"When it comes to gear, Thomas has been relying heavily on the Jordan React Havoc during his workouts.

Slated to be available for sale this August, the React Havoc is built for team sport athletes who run, be it sprints or multi-mile treks, during much of their training. A Zoom Air unit in the forefoot assists in explosive actions while a TPU heel cup locks the foot down for enhanced stability.*

“I think this shoe is definitely going to be a tool for a lot of guys that like to run,” Thomas says. “It’s great, extremely comfortable. I feel really good traction on different surfaces—stairs, track, turf. I’m excited for it to launch.”[/b][/u]

Looks like a shoe add. Atleast they referenced a real sprint coach

Christian McAffrey trains with Brian Kula…does anyone know of him or his methods. I believe its all very low volume/high intensity training…Tony Wells style.

Barry Ross lifting - using the trap bar dead as the primary lift. His running may be similar to tony holler.

ONce I start deadlifting again I will probably go with the trapbar

love trap bar. about the only lower lift i do now. maybe some split squat occasionally.

Stay away. Trap bar suck.

Why why why?

why why why not

Why do you say that? Because form breaks down easily at higher loads?
I prefer straight bar deadlifts but don’t mind trap bar once in a while, especially with the low handles.

I don’t mind as a piece to the puzzle not as the primary lower body lift. I would take db rev lunges over trap bar deads.

What do you look for in a primary lower body lift?
Surely you can’t stress your CNS to the same degree with DB lunges.
But from a lower body muscle activation perspective I would guess the DB reverse lunges would beat out trap bar deads quite easily.

1: Something you can perform at a high level of proficiency.
2: Something you can produce a solid output on.
3: Something you can perform safely.

Many idiot coaches/athletes love to flip the handles high and toss on a ton of weight on the trap bar and think they are getting a great workout. Many coaches are taking the eccentric component away also when performing deadlifts.

FYI - Your cns is getting plenty of strain from the sprints - jumps - throws.

Well said.

Most people want to add too much lifting, too much jumping, too many extra exercises post speed work.

More is not better it is just MORE.

Agree. Didn’t do any lower body lifting for three months, only sprints and a few jumps. Just decided to fool around with a deadlift and was able to lift a lot more than three months prior.

I didn’t do any lower body lifting for months and my sprints got worst and squats down 150lbs.

Trap bar deadlift = fake strength. I didn’t lift for months and could still trap dl 500lbs but struggled with 300lbs on my back.

How much sprint and jump volume did you do?

Straight from my journal.

In January I took 8 weeks and did nothing but upper body weights and treated all the lower body injuries I was dealing with. The next 8 weeks I introduced tempo and various bodyweight movements. The fifth month I continued the tempo and bodyweight movements but added jump circuits and mb throws. The sixth and final month I put everything back into the program, tempo, jumps, throws, and short hills (10-20m). So far, this is the healthiest I been since 2011ish but still have a little way to go. I am also the lightest I have been since soph year of high school - my weight has gone from 193-195 to 168lbs. I introduced the tempo back into the program very slowly, started with 6x100 and stayed there for 4 weeks, 8x100 for 4 weeks, 10x100 for 4 weeks, and 12x100 day 1, 6x200 day 2 for 4 weeks. Since starting gpp 4 weeks ago I have dropped all tempo but will add it back at some point if needed.

Pre gpp:
Tempo 2400m weekly
Hills 240-300 per session
Jumps 16-24 weekly
MB 36-60 weekly