Justin time: Justin Tuck, defensive end for the reigning super bowl champ New York giants, is a "freak" on the field—and in the gym

September 01, 2008By Sam Borden, Men's Fitness

Seven days after the Giants stunned the previously perfect Patriots in the Super Bowl, Sean Donellan, sports performance director at Velocity Sports Performance in Mahwah, N.J., received a call at home. He immediately recognized the voice of Giants defensive end Justin Tuck. "Coach, can we come in tomorrow morning and work out?" Tuck asked. "It was a week after the Super Bowl," Donellan says, "and he was already ready to start working out for next year."
The following day, Donellan and the 25-year-old, now a fourth-year player, began Tuck's off-season training program. After recording 65 tackles and 10 sacks during the 2007 regular season, along with two sacks and a forced fumble in the Super Bowl, Tuck was already being counted on as an integral part of the Giants' hopes to repeat in 2009. With veteran All-Pro teammate Michael Strahan retiring after 15 seasons of anchoring the Giants D, it's a duty Tuck takes seriously. "Third down and long--that's my favorite play."
At Notre Dame, Tuck was nicknamed "The Freak" because of his unusual combination of raw size (6'5", 275) and speed. "There aren't too many guys who are that big and can run a 4.4 [40-yard dash]," he says. Maintaining that balance became a challenge after foot surgery derailed his 2006 season after just six games. Not surprisingly, Tuck began his comeback almost immediately after he left the O.R. He combined his workouts with rehab and joined up with Donellan, who had previously spent seven years as strength coach of the NHL's New York Islanders. Now Donellan puts Tuck through a five-days-a-week off-season regimen that's designed to improve nine aspects of Tuck's athleticism: speed, power, agility, balance, strength, flexibility, mobility, neuromuscular coordination, and conditioning.
The first 30 minutes of each session are dedicated to a dynamic warm-up (see "HOW JUSTIN TUCK STAYS FIT"), then the second half-hour is for movement skills and speed training. The final hour is when the lifting is done, and Tuck will usually work the lower and upper halves of his body two days a week apiece. One of his favorite exercises is a modified bench press, in which Tuck is standing up and pushing a sled with handles (and weight plates) on the sides down a track. Tuck says he's able to "really hammer and push it for like 100 yards."
The exercise Tuck dreads usually comes at the end of his workouts. With his back against the wall, Tuck has to do a standing leg lift, bringing each leg up and over a four-foot-high track hurdle slowly, taking as much as 60 seconds for each rep. This works the front side of his hips and hip flexors, an area that many athletes ignore. "I'll do 50 reps," Tuck says. "It's brutal. I feel like I can't walk when I'm done."
He keeps coming back though, because he knows what the season is all about--another ring. "It's been a fairy tale having won the Super Bowl. Everyone wants to do it all again."
The N.Y. Giants end trains with a 30-30-60 workout.
Mondays and Thursdays: 30 minutes of dynamic warm-up, like hip work to increase mobility and flexibility; 30 minutes of movement skills and speed training: sprints, cutting runs, circuits: 60 minutes of weight work. These two days focus on upper body, first power-oriented followed by strength training. Tuck uses dumbbells, bars, and cords. as welt as resistance mechanisms like sleds.
Tuesdays and Fridays: The same 30-minute warm-ups and drills, followed by an hour of lower-body work
Wednesdays: Regeneration day. Light cardio warm-up and then stretches and flexibility exercises focused on giving his core a workout, He may also do extended cardio to increase endurance.
COPYRIGHT 2008 Weider Publications
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

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