Former New England Patriots middle linebacker and impending free agent Brandon Spikes took a few minutes of his time to give NFL Up! the low-down on how training to stay low is key for aspiring linebackers.
Q: WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN FOCUSING ON IN YOUR TRAINING THIS OFFSEASON?
A: For the most part I've been focusing on my knees, trying to keep those as good as possible. I'm 100% now, you know with rehab and rest and I feel great. As far as training and the routine I get up and bike for awhile, and go in and have a great leg day, and get a full day in at the gym and try to improve.
Q: WHAT MUSCLE GROUP IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FOR LINEBACKERS, AND WHAT EXERCISES DO YOU PREFER FOR THAT GROUP?
A: You want to have strong legs. You're in the trenches going against bigger guys in there, and you want to be able to have some force against them. If your legs are strong it definitely gives you an advantage coming down hill. As far as specific workouts go, I get a kick out of sled pulls and driving the sled. I put a couple of 45 pound weights on it and just go until I can't feel my VMO muscles (Vastus Medialis Oblique.) That's the muscle right next to your knee, on the inside.
Q: WHAT SHOULD ASPIRING LINEBACKERS FOCUS ON MOST IN THEIR TRAINING?
A: Young guys should focus on maintaining their football position. Coaches always say the lowest guy wins. I'm a taller guy and a bigger guy, but because I'm always in a great football position is why I think I'm able to get away from guys still. It gives me a chance to recover. If you take a wrong step but you're still in that football position, you can just react and change directions. I think for the most part young guys need to work on their football position. Get in their stance and hold it as long as possible. Work on your flexibility, especially in the hips, so you can hold that longer. A good football position will help you be more mobile and give you better leverage in the trenches.
Q: ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D RECOMMEND?
A: Footwork is definitely key for a linebacker. We make our money playing laterally. You've got to be able to move side to side and play sideline to sideline. So doing quick feet drills like ladders and keeping your footwork right is important.
Q: HOW HAS YOUR TRAINING CHANGED FROM YEAR ONE IN THE NFL TO NOW?
A: I'm doing a lot more cardio now. I want to be able to run and run and run and not get tired, you know, be able to play at a high level for all four quarters. I like to bike a lot and do some 300s here and there. Really, I love to bike though. I like being outside and moving around, seeing the good scenery around Miami and such.
Q: LASTLY, HAVE YOU TRIED ANYTHING NEW OR DIFFERENT IN YOUR DIET OR WORKOUTS THAT HAS WORKED WELL?
A: I've been juicing lately, making different smoothies and such. It was interesting, and tough at first, but it's been doing wonders for me. I've been leaning in up, shedding fat, burning fat and I'm feeling good, feeling clean. My favorite so far is some almond milk with a little cinnamon there. It's good. I have that as a little night cap at the end of the day.
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