NY Giants running back RASHAD JENNINGS is in the best shape of his career thanks to running, naps, and ice cream.
Rashad Jennings is AARP material in the NFL. To survive being pounded into the turf by burly 300-pound linemen on a weekly basis from September through December, the seventh-year running back out of Liberty University follows a strict diet, training, and recovery program, fueled by the desire to remain No. 1 on the New York Giants depth chart. We shadowed Jennings on one of his weekly runs before the start of the season.
“I don’t like to run,” said the man who gets paid to run, “but I do it because I have to.”
MON: RUNNING “I do a lot of footwork and five-yard sprints,” says Jennings of his solo off-day runs. “You don’t want to be exhausting yourself in four-mile sprints. Your body is not acclimated to that highly intense work, but you do want to do a heavier cardio.”
TUES: SPEED DAY Backfield speed workouts focus on “the mechanics and functionality of running,” Jennings says. He’ll jog 10 yards, pick up the pace for another 10 yards, sprint 20 yards, and repeat the sequence multiple times. Then he’ll use resistance bands or cords to develop speed: “I’m moving faster than I normally would because [a band] is pulling me forward, and that teaches me the pattern of overspeed training, which teaches you how to let yourself run even faster.”
WED: POOL “[The team] gets into the pool to do running laps, not to swim,” he says. Pool workouts are low-impact and offer resistance without stressing ligaments and tendons, which take a beating on the field.
THUR: FOOTBALL Jennings works the sprint ladder for better footwork. A coach gives a command, and he reacts from a variety of positions. The team also scrimmages. Even if the O doesn’t score a touchdown, once the drive’s over, Jennings sprints the length of it, which must be completed in a certain amount of time. Then later he runs “an extra mile.”
FRI: CONDITIONING Team activities for backs include a mixture of football drills, speed work, weight training, and, of course, running.
SAT & WED: CORE A strong core enhances balance and stability—essential for gridiron success. Jennings works his core every day, but dedicates two days solely to the cause.
RECOVERY Jennings takes daily hour-long naps in his in-home hyperbaric chamber, which simulates being 15 feet below sea level. “The pure oxygen has definitely added years to my career.”
After training, he places his ankles and wrists in sand or rice from different angles. He also does 30-second neck holds. “When blood gets to a particular area, that’s the only time something can heal and grow at the same time.”
DIET “I don’t play Russian roulette in the kitchen,” he says. Meals, prepared by a personal chef, consist of bison, salmon, brown rice, chicken, and veggies. As for cheats, Jennings has only one indulgence: Van Leeuwen vegan ice cream, which he claims helps him lose weight.
FINAL DRIVE Jennings knows that his career could end on a single play. He simply looks forward to continuing being a professional football player for as long as he can, which could be a while since his training and recovery has turned back his clock. “I feel like I’ve found the fountain of youth in my later years of my football life,” he says.
THE RUNNING MAN Jennings runs for 45 minutes up and down the 1,177-foot viaduct in Hoboken, NJ, once a week, increasing his speed each lap.
RASHAD JENNINGS’ WORKOUT
|Floor Press w/Chains||4||8||2-1-1|
|DB Incline Row||3||10||2-0-1|
|90-degree Int/Ext Rotation||3||10||2-1-2|
|Body-weight Triceps Dips||3||10||X-X-X|
|Landmine Shoulder Press||3||8||2-1-1|
|DB Concentration Curl||3||8||3-1-1|
Tempo: First digit represents seconds to complete the concentric (positive) phase; second digit denotes the pause at midpoint; third is how many seconds to complete the eccentric (negative) portion of the lift.