Adrian Peterson is a monster. Plain and simple. An ACL tear comeback in just 9 months followed by a NFL MVP and 2nd all-time NFL Rushing Yards Leader. He is for sure a genetic freak, BUT, what can we take from All Day’s success and turn into lessons to become fast and powerful as well?
Lower Body Strength and Power
This is a simple one. If you want to be fast, you have to be strong and powerful in the lower body. You can learn the best sprinting technique in the world, but if you don’t have the horsepower, you’ll still be slow. In one study involving rugby players, relative leg strength (3 rep max squat) and relative leg power (vertical jump) were negatively correlated with 10m sprint times. In other words, the higher the relative leg power and strength, the lower the 10m sprint times were(4)! Adrian Peterson can squat around 600 lbs, and if you watch the video below, routinely outsquats his teammates…including the lineman(1)!! At a weight of 220lbs, this puts AP’s relative leg strength through the roof, squatting almost 3 times his body weight(1)!!
Now, leg strength is just part of the equation as we saw above. We also need power. There are plenty of strong, slow people out there. I like to say ” You can be strong and slow, but you CANNOT be fast and weak”. Think of a powerlifter…very strong, but also generally very slow; would you want him on your football team? Probably not. However….let’s turn our attention to Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay, or Asafa Powell, some of the fastest men in the world…fast, strong, and powerful…Just like AP.
You see, it’s not enough to lift heavy weight. You also have to move that weight FAST. While I do not have a video of Adrian Peterson squatting, I can tell you that due to his crazy powerful 37″ vertical jump, I’m sure he moves the weight on his bar fast. Here are two example squat videos. Both are in the 900lb range. The first is a strongman competitor, who is incredibly strong, with a very impressive squat. He is taller, leaner, and has more muscle than the man in the second video who is 5’9, and 350lbs. Which would you guess could do a backflip or dunk a basketball(6)?
After watching the video, did your guess change? The man in the second video is Olympic Weightlifter Shane Hamman, an incredibly athletic big man who moved that weight incredibly fast! You see, it’s not all about getting the bar from point A to point B; it is about getting the bar from point A to point B as FAST as possible (safely, of course) if you want to generate power. Further, strength and power influences change of direction in sport as well, something that Adrian Peterson is incredible at (5). The bottom line is, you must develop strength AND power to be fast and explosive like AP.
“That dude, he’s a machine. I would be surprised if he’s not back.” -Defensive end Jared Allen
Adrian Peterson is known as “All Day”, and rightfully so. Google “Adrian Peterson Work Ethic” and find countless articles. Adrian Peterson’s workout is “grueling” as put by one article. He is constantly pushing himself in all aspects of the game-Sprints, Strength/Power work, Conditioning, etc. This is a theme that must be followed. Every great athlete, no matter the sport, is a tireless worker. Good is never good enough for them, and it should not be for you either.
Low Body fat
Unless you are a heavyweight or a lineman, you should be lean as well! As noted earlier, RELATIVE strength and power correlated to faster sprint times, and quicker change of direction. If you are carrying extra body fat, it will be lower. Strength and power go a long way, but if you’re carrying more body fat than you should, you will not reach your full speed potential. Adrian Peterson is 5.3% bodyfat at 220 lbs, which is incredibly lean and helps by not slowing him down (1).
While we all can’t be Adrian Peterson, we can certainly take the right steps towards increasing our athletic potential by following the rules above. Increase your leg strength AND power, work hard EVERY DAY, and decrease your body fat. Good luck, and comment below if you have any questions!