Alvin Kamara's Trainer Just Shared a Few of His Challenging Offseason Workouts
Alvin Kamara’s offseason workouts are becoming the stuff of legend. Last year, the New Orleans Saints running back shared a clip of the ultimate sled pull: he pulled an entire ass Jeep down the street, while also carrying a 100 kg metal rack on his shoulders.
This offseason, he took things in a vastly different direction. In a new video, Kamara’s trainer, Dr Sharif Tabbah, outlines several of the exercises that Kamara used this summer. And these exercises certainly didn’t seem typical of what you’d imagine a pro athlete doing to build speed and explosion. Instead of doing moves like deadlifts and sprints and moves that directly drive hip extension, Kamara is balancing on a stability ball, catching colored sticks one moment, balancing on two balls the next.
It’s easy to assume that this was some kind of new-age way of coaxing more zip from one of the zippiest players in football, but it wasn’t. Instead, Kamara’s series of increasingly difficult Bosu ball movements was designed to hone his stability, hand-eye coordination, and proprioception (aka his awareness and control of his body’s position and movements in physical space).
How much these moves have helped Kamara this season is up for debate: He’s currently on pace for the worst statistical season of his three-year NFL career. What isn’t debatable, however, is that they’re eye-catching and interesting to watch, and they certainly seem more “fun” than, say, a grueling set of squats and deadlifts.
But just how necessary is all of this really to his performance on the field? And is the Kamara workout fit-for-purpose if you’re not a pro football player? Debatable.
“Kamara’s workouts are definitely eye-catching, but let’s be clear about their role in his training: they aren’t the true secret to his speed or athleticism,” says Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., Fitness Director of Men’s Health. “What he’s doing with his trainer, by doing moves on Bosu balls and balance balls, is essentially adding instability to many classic moves, such as lunges and single-leg deadlifts (two moves featured midway through the video). This theoretically preps his body for the unstable, unpredictable situations that arise on the football field.”
But it’s best not to make this the backbone of your training, because this is very sport-specific and builds on mastery of other useful movements. Samuel explains that in order to do those moves, Kamara first had to have requisite stability and strength built from classic single-leg deadlifts and lunges.
“These moves aren’t for everyday weekend warriors,” he says. “You must know how to control your body on flat ground before you add an unstable surface. “If you want to do Kamara’s moves, do them first without the Bosu or Swiss ball; you’ll still build a ton of muscle and body control. Add the unstable Bosu only after you own the movement. The keys to Kamara’s speed are the classic versions of these exercises. The unstable surfaces are more about bulletproofing the body against injury.”
Kamara’s Bosu and Swiss ball moves shouldn’t show up in your workouts unless you’re a seasoned gym pro, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from the ideas presented in the video. Just start with those moves on flat ground, instead of on Bosu and Swiss balls. The variation in which Kamara performs a single-leg deadlift with and then without a kettlebell on a Bosu is equally valuable without the Bosu, says Samuel, and could easily fit into any leg workout. (Even without the Bosu, it’s meant to challenge your core stability and your proprioception.) And pushups always have value, even when you’re not using a pair of stability balls.
Ditch the fancy stuff and build your base. Before this offseason, Kamara almost certainly did that, too.
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