Todd Durkin and LaDamian Tomlinson

Has anyone seen the article about LaDamian Tomlinson (sic) and his trainer Todd Durkin? It seems he has the more is better approach like Jerry Rice. . .

Tomlinson’s goal: Become the best ever
Posted: August 4, 2005
Sporting News
Paul Attner

The stuff sits benignly on the grass. A rope ladder. A bungee cord. An orange power belt. A few cones. This is supposed to be a state-of-the-art workout, not a refuge for orphans from some fitness nut’s yard sale. “Just you wait,” says the thickly muscled man who unpacked all of it from a bag. He is grinning the grin of someone who knows a secret and is eager to reveal it. But it’s easy for him to smile; he isn’t about to embark on two nasty sessions from exercise hell, covering almost 2 hours. That task falls to his companion on this mildly hot June day in San Diego – and all you see on the face of LaDainian Tomlinson is serious anticipation.

It is eight weeks before training camp. There are no fans around to cheer, no teammates to offer support, no coaches to prod. The venue is plain vanilla, a public park. The silence of the morning gives way only occasionally to the intrusion of a passing car, the wail of a distant mower. This is the most famous athlete in San Diego, yet no one stops to watch, no one wonders why he is on these grounds, willing to turn his legs into a big puddle of mush.

He knows why.

Jerry Rice.

Walter Payton.

They, too, prodded themselves during offseasons, measuring their fortitude against constantly expanding limits of endurance and pain. They had talent but became something much greater and more memorable because of their willingness to develop their bodies beyond anything they realistically could imagine. They ran hills and trudged along sandy beaches and watched as peers accompanying them fell off to puke.

What if someone more gifted than Rice or Payton – the best player in the NFL today – attempts to exceed their level of determination? And what if, instead of hills and beaches, he relies on cutting-edge training techniques, computer measurements and a crew of specialists dedicated to honing virtually every aspect of his body? How extraordinary could he become? How high could he raise his performance?

“Twenty-two hundred.”

The thickly muscled man calls out the number. Tomlinson says nothing. He is hopping very quickly on one foot, over and over, between rungs of the fully extended rope ladder, before turning and bouncing back on the other foot.

Twenty-two hundred yards – it is his goal this season, a goal that would obliterate Eric Dickerson’s NFL rushing record of 2,105. And now that Emmitt Smith has retired, carrying with him the all-time career rushing yardage mark (18,355), why not aim to surpass that number, too? Certainly, no other contemporary has the combination of talent, potential career longevity and grit to better stalk Smith, Tomlinson’s boyhood idol. At 26, after four seasons, he already has accumulated 5,899 rushing yards, almost one-third of the way to Smith’s benchmark figure.

“He’s a staggering talent,” says Randy Mueller, the Dolphins’ new general manager. “He has no weaknesses. And he has that extra gear to go 60 yards every time. But he’s more than a runner. He is a great receiver, he’s willing to go inside for extra yards, he’ll pick up blitzes. He is the most complete back in the business. And he’s not even close to his prime. But to catch Emmitt, he will need health, luck and good talent around him, which wasn’t the case before last year. It’ll be fun to watch.”

The ladder drill ends. “We start off with low-intensity stuff,” says Todd Durkin, the thickly muscled man, although the intensity already seems quite high. A former quarterback at William & Mary, Durkin has transformed himself into an elite personal trainer, selected the best in the country by his peers this year. Two years ago, after doing offseason workouts on his own, Tomlinson asked Durkin to make him better.

“How good do you want to be?”

“The best ever.”

Durkin never allows his client to forget that goal. Or others Tomlinson constantly establishes. Tomlinson is obsessed with goals; they give reason to why he is alone with Durkin on this field, testing his willpower and mental discipline. Already wildly rich – he signed a new eight-year, $60 million deal with the Chargers last year – Tomlinson sees responsibilities amid the financial blessings. How unconscionable would it be for him to provide his bosses with anything less than a performance exceeding what he already has produced?

“When we were negotiating with LT, I told people that sometimes a guy gets a lot of money and you don’t know what will happen,” says Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer. “But not with LT. He will be the same player, the best I have ever seen in my 40-plus years of following pro football. He has great, great personal pride in everything he does. You need to realize he is a unique individual, with a high sense of values and great loyalty. He feels if he isn’t doing this extra work, he is letting someone down. Now, I’m not saying money isn’t important to him. But it’s not what drives him.”

That personal pride has led to this: a trainer, nutritionist, two massage experts and a chiropractor, all focused on producing what Durkin calls “optimum performance.” Only no one, not Durkin, not Tomlinson, knows what that optimum performance might be. That’s the excitement behind all this arduous training: Where will it lead? “I am quicker, stronger, my core is better balanced and more in line,” he says. “I can feel it on the field. I know it is helping a lot.”

“Be the hardest-working player. No one outworks you.”

It is deep into this first session. Tomlinson has a rope attached to the orange belt around his waist, and he is running hard while Durkin pulls the opposite way, creating enormous resistance for LT to overcome. Durkin is the cheerleader to Tomlinson’s silent efforts, constantly prodding him with rapid bursts of inspiration.

This is all about the buzzwords of functional sports training: dynamic quickness, explosion, core strengthening, fast twitch, top-end speed. Weight training is left to the Chargers; these two-or-three-times-a-week double sessions with Durkin are devised to meticulously and deliberately develop specific areas of Tomlinson’s body – the small muscles of his feet so he can have more strength to cut; his hips so he can spin equally as impressively in either direction; his shoulders and groin and eyes and every other element essential to elevating performance. The goal is to reduce injuries while putting LT in proper physical balance and symmetry. The edge in games comes when, because of this training, he has the extra burst to turn 5 yards into 60, the power to twirl away from a tackler.

“Come on, feet, show us what you got.”

The exercises are increasing in intensity now. Tomlinson is hopping over cones for a few minutes, then running while attached to a bungee cord to help activate fast-twitch muscles. Sweat masks his face. He refuses to breathe vigorously. Durkin brings out a football. Tomlinson holds it during some drills; other times, he turns and catches poorly thrown passes at the end of a fatiguing set. He never drops one. This is about reproducing the motions and feel of games. It’s why he wears football cleats; it’s why he works on thick grass, not an artificial surface. It’s why he constantly is cutting, not running straight ahead.

He is so obsessive about training that Durkin must monitor him closely. Two weeks after the end of the 2003 season, in which the Chargers finished 4-12 and Tomlinson accounted for almost 46 percent of their yards, he resumed workouts. He felt responsible for his team’s mediocrity, so he had to try to make himself even better. On supposed off-days, he would run up and down stairs in his house. He peaked too early, lost too much weight (from 223 to 215 pounds) for a man with 6 percent body fat and never recovered physically before training camp. He pulled a groin muscle in October, which both he and Durkin blame on overtraining. The groin never fully healed, hampering his running until December. He still finished with 1,335 rushing yards and 53 catches, all the while enjoying the Chargers’ unexpected surge to the playoffs, a first in his career.

This offseason, he rested for six weeks, enough time for him to dive into the cookies and cakes he loves and indulge in his favorite fajitas and burritos. Once his nutritionist begins cooking for him just before camp, he eats mostly chicken, rice, pasta and fish. Most of this – the prepared meals, four massages a week, weekly visits to the chiropractor – is influenced by Emmitt Smith. The two are friends – LT once attended his football camp – and the wise veteran has told him, “Don’t be like me and wait too long to take really good care of your body.” It was not until near the end of his career that Smith surrounded himself with a variety of conditioning specialists. “Coming from him,” says Tomlinson, “I took it as the gospel. He didn’t have to share those things with me; he knew I could be coming after his records. But he didn’t care.”

Tomlinson watched Smith’s retirement press conference last February on television. He shed a tear and applauded his idol. Even though Smith has urged him to call anytime, Tomlinson has resisted contacting him. He still feels awkward, like a little kid, in Smith’s presence. “I don’t want to bother him,” LT says. “I mean, to me, he still is Emmitt Smith, the guy I grew up wanting to copy.”

It is one of the elements that makes Tomlinson so refreshing, this respectful, wide-eyed part of him. “They tell me I am an old man in a young guy’s body,” he says, laughing. He does have some old-time views. He still thinks players should be loyal to their teams, a major reason he passed on becoming a free agent and re-signed with the Chargers last training camp, long before they began tasting success. He reflects a work ethic learned from a mother who brought up three kids on her own, supporting them by working two jobs, and a father who loaded hay on trucks in the searing west Texas summer heat. In February, he treated his linemen to a Pro Bowl trip. He later finished his final courses to earn a degree from TCU. He is so much of what many fans miss today about the athletes they watch – plus he’s so darn much fun on the field, the way he darts around tacklers and threatens to turn each carry into a spectacular gain.

“He is a breath of fresh air for this league,” says Chargers fullback Lorenzo Neal. “A class act, a hard worker, no excuses and really entertaining. He is going to get national attention now that we are winning, and people are going to like what they see. He is the future of this league, what it needs.”

Despite Tomlinson’s brilliance, his national profile remains incomplete, in large part because, before last season, the Chargers rarely appeared on national TV. It will be different this fall; San Diego will be part of at least five nationally broadcast contests. It’s a terrific forum for Tomlinson, but with the emergence of tight end Antonio Gates and the development of quarterback Drew Brees, the offense now has a balance that could limit his exposure and carries, making the 2,200 goal more difficult. Isn’t it ironic Schottenheimer – father of run-loving Martyball – has the best back he has ever coached at a time Schottenheimer has become enamored of passing? But Tomlinson isn’t completely sold on the new Marty. “Despite all Marty says about passing, deep down he’s still a coach who wants to run it. You wait and see.”

“Never show you are tired.”

Durkin knows how to push Tomlinson – just imply he can’t overcome fatigue. LT doesn’t acknowledge his trainer. But he finishes up the outdoor session with explosions of speed unequaled previously. Then they kneel for a quick prayer.

Twenty minutes later, they are at it again, this time inside Fitness Quest 10, where Durkin works. The rope ladder and bungee cord have given way to mats, a piece of wood, a half-ball/half-platform called a Bosu, dumbbells, strength-measuring machines and a few tennis balls. This is where Tomlinson builds up various parts of his body; the field drills translate this strengthening into practical applications.

At one point, Tomlinson, in stocking feet, stands with one leg on the Bosu platform while Durkin snaps passes at him, low, high, just within reach. It is incredibly taxing on the small muscles in his feet, yet Tomlinson not once falls off or mishandles a pass. It took him three weeks to learn how to stay upright.

He does crunches and leg work while lying across a large exercise ball. He walks laterally, legs straining outward against a bungee cord around his feet, bent at the waist, hands spread wide. He does drills with a power wheel strapped between his feet, pushing up his arms from the mat, then bringing the wheel toward his hands so his legs wind up under him. He pulls on a cord attached to a machine to measure hip strength, then is strapped into another machine that helps enhance power in his running motion.

By the time he finishes, he is very weary. He denies it. “We usually go longer outside,” he says. “I am only 80-90 percent of where I want to be at camp. We are right on track.”

During a vacation to Jamaica last winter with his wife, he couldn’t stay away from the exercise room. For a moment, even he wondered why. But he knows the answer. “Walter would be working out,” he says. There’s more. "It’s all about whether you have it to be the best. You can talk about it, but will you truly put in the time when no one is watching? How do you want to be remembered? Do you want to be a legend in the game or someone just playing for the money or whatever?

“I feel I am a very talented player, but how much better would I be if I do these workouts? Maybe it will make me talented enough to blow out your eyes. No one knows – but why not try to be the greatest? I could be walking on the beach right now telling myself how good I am. Or I could be here, doing something about it. If I am not, someone else is getting the edge on me, to be better than me, and I just refuse to let anyone be better than me.”

He grabs a salad from a nearby carryout and drives off in his Hummer2. He’ll be back again in a couple of days. Best ever. It’s there for the taking – if you just work hard enough for it.


Favorite TV show: CSI: Miami
Favorite movie: Diary of a Mad Black Woman
Favorite athlete growing up: Emmitt Smith
Favorite video game: Madden
Favorite musical artist: Scarface
Favorite CD: T.I.'s Urban Legend
Favorite actor: Jamie Foxx
Favorite relaxation: Golf
Favorite vacation spot: Jamaica

LaDamian is a class act. Unlike some NFL players, he isn’t about the money and is more about getting the job done. It’s obvious his work ethic and attitude is killer due to all the yards he has produced the past 3 seasons. They guy’s a player. He isn’t about flash and glamour he is about getting the job done and hauling ass

It was rereshing to hear he wanted to stay with his team for the sake of being loyal. I think that kind of attitude has been gone for about at least 10 years.

I read the article in the Sporting news last night and was impressed. A similar article with 5 NFL players training routines is running in Sports Illustrated. Any time something that legit runs in the main stream it is good for us in performance enhancement!

LT is a class act for sure, he’s my favorite non-Raven player and I own his jersey. Exciting on gameday and great for the game off the field.

He’ll be remembered as one of the greats for sure once his career is done. His 2003 season has to be one of the best seasons ever for a running back.

btw Nightly it’s Ladainian

Ladanian? Are you sure? That sounds totally wrong. Who made that up?
Sorry about being a Raven’s fan.

which issue of si is that?

I just read it and some of the guys design their own programs and it works for them. It seems to even work better for them than their off season workouts at their stadium.

It has to be the latest issue of SI because I read it in Barnes and Noble last Sat 8/6/05.

wow, since i come from his hometown, ill go to his camp again and ask him a lot of questions about this article

Thanks man, that was a great read and good insight into how hard SOME of these guys work. Working that hard and staying that focused, he deserves whatever records and accolades he attains.

'‘there ain’t nothin’ more humiliating than being left all alone out in the middle of a country road…"

You ever ask him those questions?

I didnt go to his camp this year, but my trainer knows him real well. I got to meet him and shake hands with him, but that was it.

what u guys think:

LaDainian Tomlinson’s Off-Season Conditioning Program

Following are excerpts from Day One of LT’s Functional Fitness Program. These are just a few exercises from a single session.


Movement in space—One set (10 reps) of each movement:

HIGH-KNEES—Jog driving knees up toward chest as high as possible

BUTTKICKS—Jog kicking feet up toward butt in exaggerated motion

A and B SKIPS—(A) Bring knee up, then rapidly kick foot down (B ) Bring knee up, then kick foot out

CARIOCA—Move laterally, rotating hips and bringing one foot in front of, then behind the other

SIDE RUN WITH LEG CROSSOVER—Similar to carioca, but step only in front of, not behind, leg

OVER/UNDER THE FENCE—Walk forward pretending to step over and then under a fence

FRANKENSTEINS—Walk forward with arms out front at shoulder level. Keep legs straight and kick toes to hands

MONSTER WALKS—Put a band around ankles and walk forward with legs spread

LUNGE & ROTATE—Step forward into a lunge and rotate toward front knee

BACKWARD LUNGE & ROTATE—Step backward into a lunge and rotate toward front knee

Stationary in one area—One set (15 seconds or 10 reps) of each movement:


SEAL JACKS—With arms extended in front of chest at shoulder level and feet together, jump spreading legs and swinging arms to the sides. Jump back to starting position.

FLINGS—Same as Seal Jacks, but swing arms across chest, over and under each other with each successive jump.

GATE SWINGS—With hands on knees, feet together and a slight bend in knees, jump and spread legs and push knees out with hands. Jump back to starting position.

POGO HOPS—With toes flexed up, hop rapidly off balls of feet. Keep legs straight.

BODYWEIGHT SQUATS—Squat down until thighs are parallel with the ground. Keep core tight and knees above ankles.

SIDE LUNGES—Step laterally into a side lunge. Keep toes of both feet pointed forward.

REVERSE LUNGES—Step backward into a lunge. Keep front knee above ankle.

SCORPION KICKS—Lie on stomach with arms stretched out to the sides. Rotate hips and kick left foot toward right hand. Repeat to opposite side.

ONE-LEGGED WINDSHIELD WIPERS— Lie on back with arms stretched out to the sides. Kick left foot to right hand across body 10 times. Repeat with opposite side.

Joint integrity using bodyweight—Sometimes we put resistance bands around the ankles when performing these movements:

DIRTY DOGS—Start on hands and knees with toes flexed. Lift knee and foot up and to the side, keeping leg bent at a 90-degree angle. Repeat with opposite leg. X 15

HORSEBACK RIDING—Start on hands and knees with toes flexed. Lift knee and foot up and rotate around as if swinging leg onto a horse. Repeat in opposite direction. Repeat with other leg in both directions. X 10 ON HORSE/10 OFF HORSE, EACH LEG

45-DEGREE STRAIGHT LEG EXTENSION—Start on hands and knees with toes flexed. Extend leg back and up as high as possible at 45-degree angle from body. Repeat opposite side. X 15 EACH LEG

BIRD DOG & ROTATE—Start on hands and knees with right hand placed on back of head. Bring left knee toward chest, then bend and rotate head and elbow down to touch right elbow to left knee. Extend back to starting position, then kick left leg back and up as high as possible. Repeat on opposite side. X 15 PER SIDE

PUSH-UPS (3 HAND POSITIONS)—Perform push-ups with close grip, regular grip and wide grip hand positions. X 15 EACH WAY

SIDE-UPS WITH ROTATION—Lie on side with elbow below shoulder. Lift hips off the ground so only foot and elbow touch the ground. Rotate body so chest faces the ground. Return to starting position. Repeat for opposite side. X 15

PUSH-UPS WITH ROTATION—Perform a push-up, then lift left arm and leg off the ground. Rotate to the left to form a T-position. Balance on right arm and leg. Repeat for opposite side. X 5 EACH SIDE

HORIZONTAL PULL-UPS (WITH FEET ON BALL)—Lie on the ground beneath a bar. Place feet on a physioball and grip the bar with palms facing away from face. Pull chest up to the bar, then return to starting position. X 8 EACH WAY (4 HAND POSITIONS)

SIDE SQUAT (WITH RESISTANCE BANDS ON ANKLES AND WRISTS)—Starting in a squat position, step to the side with right foot followed by left. Stay in squat position, keeping arms extended straight out in front of body. X 15 EACH WAY

Joint integrity with cords or light dumbbells—Perform on a disc with eyes closed if possible:

JOHN TRAVOLTA—Stand with arms elevated in goalpost position and a light dumbbell in each hand. With elbows at shoulder level and shoulder blades pinched, bring right hand down toward left hip and back to starting position. Repeat with left arm. Do not let stationary arm drop. X 10 EACH WAY

IRON CROSS—Stand with arms bent, palms facing chest and elbows out at shoulder level. Extend forearms out into a T-position, hold for a second and then return to starting position. Keep shoulder blades tight and elbows up. X 15 AND HOLD

3-WAY STANDING ROW—With arms extended in front of chest and palms down, bring dumbbells back toward shoulders; keep elbows high and away from lats. Immediately rotate arms so palms are facing each other, and repeat rowing motion. X 5 EACH WAY

SHOULDER CLOCK WORK (2 HAND POSITIONS)—With dumbbells in hand, pinkies touching each other in front of thighs, bring arms up and out wide in a large circle motion above the head. Touch thumbs together, then bring down to starting position in larger circle motion. Rotate arms so palms face each other at the starting position and backs of hands touch above head. X 8 EACH WAY

SPORT CORD SHOULDER INTERNAL/EXTERNAL ROTATION—Attach a sport cord to a pole at stomach level. Stand with cord in hand and a 90-degree bend in arm, forearm across stomach. Rotate forearm away from body against resistance of cord; return to staring position. Repeat. Turn 180 degrees and start with forearm extended away from body. Rotate arm toward body, bring forearm to stomach, return to starting position, repeat. Repeat for opposite arm. X 15 EACH WAY

WALL WORK (3 HAND POSITIONS)—Stand with back 3 to 6 inches away from a wall. Extend arms slightly below shoulder level almost to a T-position. Pinch shoulder blades back as hard as possible. Place backs of hands on the wall and press against the wall as hard as possible for 30 seconds. Rotate arms so the palms of the hands touch the wall and repeat drill. Then face the wall and press the palms of hands against the wall. X 30 SECONDS EACH WAY

Balance conditioning—Perform barefoot and on balance pad if possible:

BALANCE TOUCH FLOOR WITH HOP (BAREFOOT ON PAD)—Stand on one leg with slight bend in knee. Bend at the waist and touch the ground with hands. Opposite leg should extend behind, parallel with back. Return to starting position; hop, stick landing and repeat. X 15 PER LEG

BALANCE REACH FORWARD OVER GOAL LINE (WITH FOOTBALL ON PAD)—Hold a football with both hands. Extend arms and reach out as far as possible; hold for a second. Bring chest toward ground until back is parallel with the ground. X 10 EACH LEG

BALANCE SINGLE-LEG 3-POINT TOUCHES (FORWARD/ SIDEWAYS/BACK AND ON PAD)—Start in a single-leg squat on left foot. Touch toe of right foot in front as far as possible. Bring foot back, then out to the side as far as possible. Finally, bring foot back to the start, then behind as far as possible. Repeat for opposite leg. X 5 ROUND TRIPS

SINGLE-LEG BALANCE ON BOSU (SHOES ON AND DOME DOWN) & SIDELINE CATCH DRILL—Balance on one leg on a Bosu, catch a pass from a partner and throw the ball back while maintaining balance. Partner should be facing the shoulder of down leg 5-10 yards away. X 10 EACH SIDE

Core conditioning:

PHYSIOBALL HIP EXTENSIONS (WITH MANUAL RESISTANCE)—Place feet on physioball with shoulders on ground. Raise hips off ground. X 15

PHYSIOBALL CRUNCHES—Place feet flat on ground with hips on ball. Perform a crunch. X 25

PHYSIOBALL LATERAL ROLLS—Place back on the ball, feet flat on the ground, hips up and arms extended to the sides. Walk feet laterally and roll your back as far as possible to the side of the ball without falling off. Repeat for opposite side. X 16

BOSU CRUNCH & KICKS—Lay lower back on the Bosu (dome up). Place right foot flat on the ground with a 90-degree bend in knee. Crunch up and bring left knee in toward elbow. Return to starting position and kick left leg out. Repeat for opposite side. X 15 EACH WAY

SIDE-LYING BOSU SIT-UPS (WITH ROTATION)—Lie with oblique placed on the Bosu. Perform a side crunch and rotate chest so it faces the ceiling. X 21 AND HOLD FOR 21 SECONDS


Strap a power wheel to both ankles and perform 1 set of 15 for each of the following movements:

  • Jacknife—Start in push-up position. Bring feet toward hands. Keep legs straight and raise hips.

  • Push-up—Perform push-up keeping core tight to maintain balance.

  • Jacknife & Push-up—Perform Jacknife followed by Push-up.

PRONE RUNNING MAN (WITH FEET ON PHYSIOBALL & HANDS ON BENCH)—Start in push-up position with hands on a bench and feet on a physioball. Bring left knee toward chest with right foot still on the ball. Drive right knee to chest and kick left leg back on top of the ball. X 20

PRONE RUNNING MAN (WITH KNEE TWIST)—Start in push-up position with hands on a bench and feet on a physioball. Bring left knee toward chest and keep right foot on ball. Rotate left knee under body and to the right as far as possible. Repeat with opposite leg. X 20

PRONE JACKNIFE & PUSH-UP (WITH FEET ON PHYSIOBALL)—Same as Prone Jacknife & Push-up in the Power Wheel, but use a physioball instead. X 10

GLUTE/HAM EXTENSION (WITH ROTATION AND MED BALL THROW)—Use a glute/ham machine and perform an extension. On the way down catch a med ball thrown by a partner standing 3-4 yards away. During next extension, throw the ball back to the partner. Twist to the left or right at the top of the extension. Alternate direction of twist for each rep. X 16


  • Perform chop pulling up from the left foot and to the right above the right shoulder. Repeat for opposite side.

  • Perform chop pulling down from the top right above shoulder to left foot. Repeat for opposite side.

  • Chop rotationally as if swinging a baseball bat. Repeat for opposite side.


VERTIMAX SQUAT JUMPS—Attach band resistance. Lower into a parallel squat position. Jump as high as possible. Repeat. 3 X 10

LUNGE HOPS (WITH MED BALL TWIST—Start in lunge position with legs split (right foot front, left foot behind). Hold a med ball in both hands extended directly in front of chest. Jump into the air and twist to the right with the ball. Repeat for opposite side. 2 X 20

SKATER PLYOS—Bound to the left off right leg. Land on left foot, bringing right foot behind left and right hand across body. Touch the ground outside left foot. Repeat for opposite side. 2 X 20

SINGLE-LEG LATERAL BOUNDS—Bound laterally to the right off left leg, then to the left off right leg. 2 X 20

BULGARIAN LUNGE HOPS—Place back foot on a bench or box. Put opposite leg in front in lunge position. Rapidly jump in the air. 2 X 10

Foot quickness—Done in weight room:

HIP DISASSOCIATION DRILL—Jump and rapidly swivel hips to the right and then left as far as possible. Keep feet shoulder-width apart. 2 X 10 SECONDS

2 BOSU HIGH-KNEE DRILL (WITH FOOTBALL)—Move laterally, performing high-knees between two Bosu balls three feet apart. Place outside foot on inside of ball and push off moving back to the other side. 2 X 15 SECONDS

5-DOT DRILL (WITH TWIST)—Start with legs spread and feet on the first two dots. Jump forward landing both feet on the center dot; jump forward again spreading legs to land on the next two dots. Jump in place turning 180 degrees. Move back across the dots. 2 X 15 SECONDS

BOSU TOE TAPS (WITH BALL)—Place one foot on the ground and one foot on a Bosu ball. Switch feet rapidly, using quick taps. 2 X 15 SECONDS

BOSU LATERAL HOPS (OUTSIDE HAND PUSHES OFF FLOOR AND BOUND TO OTHER SIDE)—Place left foot on the Bosu ball and right foot to the right of the ball. Hold a football in your left hand. Laterally hop left, switching the football to the right hand in the air; land with left foot on left of ball, left hand on the ground and right foot on ball. Repeat for opposite direction. 2 X 20 SECONDS

Sport specific functional strength & power exercises:

This varies on the day, but the movements are often integrated. We do 2-3 sets of four to eight exercises, keeping the intensity high. Exercise selection depends on what had already been performed at Chargers facility. I do not normally hit the arms; I want his legs and mid-section strong and tremendous stabilization and joint integrity up top.

KEISER AIR RUNNER SPRINTS—Use a Keiser Air Runner to perform a full speed sprint. Keep hips under the body and work on acceleration and power. 3 X 40 YARDS

KEISER AIR RUNNER LEAP FROGS—Use a Keiser Air Runner to work on explosively jumping with both legs like squat jump. 3 X 12 REPS

MULTI-DIRECTIONAL LUNGES—Step into a lunge in five directions. Start at 12 o’clock, 2, 3, 4 and 6 Repeat with opposite leg to 12, 10, 9, 8 and 6. 2 X 20

STRAIGHT LEG DEADLIFTS (ROMANIAN DEADLIFT)—With feet in hip-shoulder width position, barbell in hands with palms facing in, lower the bar from thighs to shins keeping low back tight and pushing hips back. 2 X 15


PHYSIOBALL LEG CURLS—Place heels on physioball and shoulders on ground. Raise hips, making straight line from knees to shoulders. Pull ball in toward butt and raise hips to maintain straight line from knees to shoulders. 2 X 15

PHYSIOBALL DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS—Place feet flat on the ground and shoulders on a physioball. Press dumbbells from chest directly above chest. 3 X 15

KEISER FUNCTIONAL TRAINER SINGLE-ARM ROW & ROTATES—With chest perpendicular to pulley, perform single-arm row, punch and rotate with opposite arm. Repeat for opposite side. 3 X 15

HAND-EYE COORDINATION DRILLS & COMPETITIONS—Perform 3-5 minutes of drills using tennis balls, racquetballs, etc., to work on tracking. We like to have competitions at this point to see who wins.


We do 15 minutes of Optimal Performance Bodywork Manual Techniques for entire body, PNF stretching and deep tissue massage.

LT works on techniques he developed for regeneration things that really open the hip flexors, rotators, chest, feet and hamstrings. We do some rope stretching and self-myofacial release with the foam rollers to help stretch the entire body, recover and maintain health.

Following are excerpts from Day Two of LT’s Functional Fitness Program. These are just a few exercises from a single session.

We normally try to do a speed, agility and quickness session with football drills. Sometimes I’ll have LaDainian perform plyometrics, but it depends on my coaching sessions, mini-camps, schedule, etc. The focus of these sessions is QUALITY, not quantity.

10-20 minutes.


Ladder Drills—Choose five drills and perform each one twice.


Cone drills:

Set up cones 15 yards apart unless specified. Always perform cutting and catching at end of each set. These drills can be performed with or without bands.

BOX DRILL—Set up four cones in the shape of a square. Sprint up one side; cut around cone and shuffle across the top of the square; cut around outside of next cone and backpedal to next cone; cut around last cone and carioca through finish.

CIRCLE DRILL—Set up three cones 3 to 4 yards apart. Sprint to first cone, circle around it and sprint to next cone. Move in linear fashion; always face forward when circling; repeat for each cone.

ZIGZAG DRILL (WITH TWO-OR ONE-LEGGED JUMPS OVER CONES)—Set up five cones in staggered position. Sprint at 45-degree angle to first cone and jump over it three times on one leg; sprint at 45-degree angle to next cone and jump over it three times. Repeat for all five cones.

LATERAL SHUFFLE DRILL—Shuffle laterally between cones.



Form running strides (5 minutes):

Run with perfect form

Resisted speed running:

TOWING (WITH HARNESS)—Run with a partner who is pulling against the direction of your sprint, with resisted ropes and sleds. 6 X 30 YARDS

OVERSPEED BUNGEE CORD SPRINTS - Run with a partner pulling in direction of your sprint. 4 X 20 YARDS

Football specific drills:

LT performs running and catching patterns for 15-20 minutes.

Flexibility (15 minutes):

Same as Day One.

Durkin’s Training Goals for LT
Weeks 1-4

Establish joint integrity/joint tensile strength
Establish foundational strength (balance and core)
Improve flexibility (active release technique and PNF stretching)
Improve balance in the body (accelerators vs. decelerators; posture; synergistic/antagonistic)
Improve functional strength capabilities
Establish sound nutritional habits
Weeks 5-10

Advance balance and core strength
Advance joint integrity
Implement specific speed, agility and explosive drills
Advance specific, fundamental functional strength exercises
Weeks 11-16

Advance functional strength exercises specific to LT’s needs
Advance agility, speed and explosive techniques
Follow flexibility and regeneration principles (massage and bodywork)
Do advanced fieldwork to simulate game situations (running, cutting, hopping, jumping, slashing with harnesses, parachutes, bungees, vests, etc.)

17 Points About LT and His Workout
Training Points

We do a lot of barefoot work during balance exercises. It strengthens the plantar aponeurosis, ankles, calves and lower shank, which is important for balance and speed.
We don’t lift a lot of weights; he gets that at the Chargers Complex. I am big into the core, joint integrity, speed, agility and functional strength with rotation. We do everything with three different foot positions and three different hand positions.
We try to use 25-second rests between a lot of our sets, 45 seconds between exercises and about two minutes between each module. It is best to try to simulate game-time situations.
Joint integrity is crucial for us. I want LaDainian to have as much balance and symmetry among his muscles as possible. Our joint integrity program is designed to focus on his feet and ankles, knees, hips and groin, core, shoulders, elbows and wrists. The program doesn’t guarantee that an athlete will be 100 percent injury-proof, but it sure cuts down on the likelihood of being injured—especially when you are a running back in the NFL and your body is being abused every week.
Rest and rejuvenation are critical. They allow his body to regenerate, and regeneration is a critical phase of the training program.
We spend a good deal of time stretching at the end of every workout. Flexibility is critical for LT. We do manual stretching and a type of hands-on bodywork I created called “Optimal Performance Bodywork.” It combines myofasical release, Rolling, deep tissue massage, Feldenkrais and other forms of stretching. We stretch his entire body very good after all workouts.
LT receives regular massage and body-work. I do all of his structural work and fascial work, but he has a few other therapists too. Rob Latimer is a massage therapist who has worked with him for a while. He does a great job helping LT’s body, relaxing him, flushing out soreness and providing a great overall therapeutic session to help his body recover quicker.
We do a lot of field work as the season approaches. This is where LT needs to be as a running back; he needs to take his hard-earned efforts from the weight room onto the field.
When in the weight room, I train LT in an 8’ x 8’ open space the entire time. I don’t need a lot of fancy machines to make him work. We use dumbbells, medicine balls, SPRI cords and bands, balance implements such as bosu balls, airex pads and dyna discs, and my Keiser equipment. We also do some overspeed training on the Woodway treadmills occasionally. But you would be shocked to learn how much we get done and how hard he works without touching a machine. The machines are gravy train for us. He has brought in friends, buddies and former college teammates several times to train with him, and they bow out within 20-30 minutes because of the intensity.
Nutrition is critical and LT does a great job with his nutritional intake.
He often does his speed work with an X-Vest on.
We get in the weight room twice a week and on the field once or twice a week. This is in addition to his reporting two times a week to the Chargers’ facility for weight training.

LT Points

LT is a guy who will outwork anyone. I actually have to put the brakes on him sometimes. He’s running hills, doing push-ups and sit-ups all the time, running the steps in his own home for 30 minutes. He doesn’t miss a workout, he’s never late for a workout—he’s a machine. I have had to monitor him closely so he doesn’t overtrain, which can lead to injury.
LT loves Walter Payton. He has the same work ethic. LT wants to be the best running back of all time, and that is what drives him to work out like a madman. He highly emulates and respects Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders, and he loves Walter’s heart and passion. That’s scary!
You will not find a harder worker, more dedicated, more committed athlete out there than LaDainian. Everything he gets, he deserves. He serves the community, signs every autograph and is thankful and appreciative of all the opportunities God gave him.
LT is truly a once-in-a-lifetime athlete who blends unbelievable talent, extraordinary work ethic, a humble attitude, the willingness to be open minded and learn new information and techniques to help his training, and the grit and determination to be the best running back to ever walk, or run, on this planet.
He just finished his college degree because he promised his mother he would do it. Relentless!

I’m not sure how his training sessions are broken up but it seems that his volume boarders on the ludicrous. Anyone else feel that way?

Sure looked like it to me too. I kept reading and was wondering when all the stuff was going to end… Curious to see how this is broken up weekly?

it says it in the article, if u really think about its not much, just a bunch of lil drills.

Man - that seems more like a dancers routine …

Look the other thing is do you believe everythgin you read?

Reminds me of the Ali story where the reporter asked Ali how he could box so fast … so Ali told him to meet him one day after that and he’d show him the secret training methodology… who could resist?
So the reporter turned up with a photographer, who watched as Ali, who wasn’t a great swimmer, proceded to get dressed and climb into a swimming pool to ‘box and spar’ underwater!
This made a great story and some amazing photographs and had a generation of boxers nearly drown trying to emulate an obvious publicity stunt!

Publicity or Fact?

Lt was really strong in college in usual weigth movements.this training supplements what is done at the chargers facility…the problem I see is that there a re many young players who will try this bunch of exercises, instead of training more properly for them.
BTW, the mobility and warm up seem ok to me

his warmup is the parisi speed school combine warmup.