Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson is an absolute beast.
Last season, he played in only 13 games but still caught 86 balls for 1,216 yards and scored eight touchdowns. That's a career year for most guys, but the 5-time Pro Bowler was disappointed. Fresh off back-to-back seasons with 1,500 yards receiving, not hitting that superhuman stat in '10 pissed him off.
"That really bothered me," says Johnson, who signed with the Jordan Brand before last season. "So I am looking forward to trying to get back to that this season."
Johnson spent this locked-out off-season the same way he spends every off-season: training with his old college teammates at the University of Miami. This year's crop of guys included New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, plus lots of other young guns and vets.
They trained four days a week - Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday - running in a sand pit, sprinting on the field, and working in the weight room under the supervision of Hurricanes strength coach Andreu Swasey. Even though they're on different NFL teams, none of those rivalries matter as much as the bond they share as former Hurricanes.
"We'll talk more about the games we played when we were there than about playing one another in the NFL," Johnson says. "The competitive energy just gets the best out of everybody. It's kind of like a brotherhood. I've tried going down to another place, but it wasn't the same. Going to The U is something I look forward to every off-season."
Even if you don't have access to the Hurricanes' weight room, you can still get jacked like those guys. Check out Johnson going through a version of his off-season workout, specially formatted for MF readers. It may not make you the best receiver in football, but it's guaranteed to pack the muscle on your frame.
HOW IT WORKS
You'll train three days per week, focusing on speed and strength. You may not be familiar with some of the explosive exercises such as speed squats or power cleans, so take the time to learn the form precisely. Some of the movements use the age-old pyramid technique (add weight and reduce your reps each set) to target the widest range of muscle fibers.
You'll also attack common weak points such as the rotator cuff, which can take a beating whether you're playing football or lifting heavy, so you'll stay injury-free all season (even if that just means fall to you).
Complete each workout (Day 1, 2, and 3) once per week. You can perform the first two workouts on back-to-back days, rest, and then do the next workout.
How to do it
Most of the exercises will be done as straight sets-complete all sets for the move before going on to the next. For the shoulder circuit on Day 1, complete one set of each lift without rest in between. Rest after you've finished the circuit and then continue with the rest of the workout.
Barbell Bench Press
Sets:4 Reps:10, 10, 6, 6
Grab the bar with an overhand, outside-shoulder-width grip. Your shoulder blades should be squeezed together and your back arched. Take the bar out of the rack (you can have a spotter help you) and squeeze it hard.
Lower it to just below your sternum and then push your feet hard into the floor to help you press the weight up. When the bar is halfway up, begin flaring your elbows outward to lock it out in the top position.
Hold a barbell in front of your thighs at arm's length. Shrug your shoulders as high as you can.
Incline Bench Press
Set an adjustable bench to a 30- to 45-degree incline and lie down on it. Squeeze the bar hard and arch your upper back. Lower the bar to the upper part of your chest, tucking your elbows close to you as it comes down.
Once the bar touches your chest, push your feet hard into the floor. Press the weight up, focusing on pushing it back toward your face. When the bar is halfway up, begin flaring your elbows outward to lock it out.
Seated Overhead Press
Seated Overhead Press
Shoulder Circuit: Repeat 5-7 times
Set a barbell on the floor, crouch down, and grab it with hands outside shoulder width. Your lower back should be in its natural arch. Explosively stand up and shrug the bar, coming up onto the balls of your feet.
As the bar rises to chest level, flip your wrists over so that your palms face the ceiling and your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Allow your knees to bend as you absorb the force of the bar at your shoulders.
Sets:4 Reps:10, 8, 6, 4
Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes turned slightly outward. Bend your hips back and then your knees (push them outward as you go down) to lower your body as far as you can.
Start with the barbell on the supports of a power rack at about shoulder height. Grab the bar overhand and raise your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
Now lift the bar off the rack, letting it roll toward your fingers-as long as you keep your elbows raised, you will balance the bar. Squat as low as you can while keeping your lower back flat.
Hold the bar at arm's length and let it touch the front of your thighs. Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, bend your hips back and then your knees, lowering the weight until you feel you're about to lose the arch in your lower back.
Sets:4 Reps:To Failure
Sit at a power rack with your feet shoulder-width apart and grab the bar with a slightly wider-than-shoulder-width grip. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and push your chest out.
Press the bar overhead and slightly backward so that it ends up in line with the back of your head at the top.
Two-Point Dumbbell Row
Hold a dumbbell in one hand and step forward with the opposite leg.
Bend over at the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor (keep a safe arch in your lower back). Brace your abs. Row the weight to your side.
Incline Dumbbell Press
Set an adjustable bench to a 30- to 45-degree angle and lie back against it with a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level. Press the weights straight over your chest.
Start holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level. Press the weights straight overhead.
Suspend yourself over the parallel bars of a dip station and then lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Do not go lower.
Hold a weight plate with both hands and raise it to eye level. Rotate it counterclockwise as if you were turning a steering wheel and then rotate clockwise. That's one rep.
Medicine Ball Sit-Up
Hold a medicine ball with both hands and sit on the floor with your knees bent 90 degrees. Perform a sit-up and raise the ball straight overhead.