Nick Singleton | A training session at with 2021 Gatorade POY
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Nick Singleton | A training session at with 2021 Gatorade POY
I get to train the number one high-school football player in the entire country and we got to go through an entire leg workout (that means squats!) of football lifts to see how strong and explosive he is in an effort to improve mobility, level up his football power, and keep Nick at the top of his game.
I began by having Nick warm up. The first thing we did to help with foot mobility was to have him walk on a PVC pipe both forward and backward. Continue with that ankle mobility, I had him walk on his heels with his toes up as well as walk on his toes with his heels up. In addition, Nick had to do calf raises, working the mobility of the Achilles tendon as the heels dipped below the box the front of his foot perched upon.
From there I had him do some unilateral jumps from mat to mat to trigger a football power mindset through each plyometric work. After the jumps, Nick had to do hip extensions, similar to a 90-90, but not exactly. His hips are tight, primarily the left hip.
The main focus of the warm-up is improving foot strength, ankle mobility, the stiffness of his ankle through a greater range of motion, and preparing him neurologically to attack the workout.
My Weightlifting Shoes
Nick often times puts on my old weightlifting shoes. A weightlifting shoe raises the heel so that Nick can get a better range of motion. The weightlifting shoe also provides a lot of support in the heel. Shoes are typically squishy in the heel. Weightlifting shoes are not squishy at all. I like to say that football players playing on grass where cleats. Football players squatting, cleaning, and lifting in general should be wearing weightlifing shoes lifting weights.
The first movement I had Nick do was a one-block clean, a technical coordination movement. Warming the movement up, I had Nick do three power cleans and three front squats after the last clean.
The thing I like about developing football power from the box is that it makes athletes react quicker because it is a shorter pull, it is a little easier on the back, and the argument can be made that it is done in an athletic stance that mimics Nick’s stance as a running back. Mainly for me, I like how the box destresses the box and requires more speed.
I put a tool on the bar to see how fast Nick is moving the weight. The tool helps develop a profile of the athlete. The data leads to a giant formula to be put together and use as a guide.
When we got to 110 kilos, I had Nick complete one power clean and one full clean. The movements were performed at 1.92 and 1.99, essentially saying the power he is generating is at the level where he could hypothetically clean 405 lbs. We then moved up to 120 kilos at 1.76.
Just for a frame of reference, D.J. Shuttleworth performed the cleans with Nick during this session. D.J. has already cleaned 205 kilos, close to 460 lbs. D.J.’s speed was 2.18 using 120 kilos, or about 241 lbs.
We continued and increased the weight to 130 kilos, about 286 lbs, Nick continued to move it at 1.7 meters per second. That transfer tremendously well to football power on the playing field. Add in the fact that a full clean forces a football player to have the mobility to hit a full range of motion squat, and the payoffs continue to pile up.
Most high school kids can’t even clean 286 lbs. Nick hits that weight for a double ramping up to even greater weights. Not only does he hit that weight for a double, he hits that weight in the morning during an early session. Just keep in mind Nick has cleaned and then front squatted 330 lbs in his home garage when it was hot, no music playing, and me coaching over zoom.
I bet if Nick really wanted to he could hit 150 kilos for a set of three or four.
We moved up to 140 kilos. That is a 22 lbs increase. As we went up in weight, Nick got faster. This shows that Nick can transmit a large amount of speed consistently over a long period of time, basically meaning he can come out the gates running a 4.47 in the first quarter and still be running a 4.55 in the 4th quarter.
I then had Nick move up to 147 kilos for a single. The velocity did not slow down. He hit a 1.79 speed.
Kids that rain with Nick at the gym who are going to a D1 school like Villanova, clean between 130 to 137 kilos as a max moving it at .9 meters per second. At 325 lbs. Nick’s speed was at 1.76 which indicates really good speed and pop. That means tremendous football power.
Single-Leg Squat And Reflexive Work
Nick typically dies with the reflexive movement I had him do on this day. He had to balance on a single leg, hold a hip-lock with the other leg, and then with the same arm as the balance leg press a dumbbell overhead. This helps with dynamic trunk control to create more stability and allow him to cut better on the field. The movement forces him to coordinate more. The pairing with the single-leg squat is good because the single-leg squat has lifters already in a precarious position.
I believe the single-leg squat is the absolute best strength movement for any athlete in an open skill sport. The single-leg squat hammers the posterior chain and leads to a plumb butt. It also develops the hamstrings and creates massive stability for the trunk. Single-leg squats are also great for mobility. Nick has hit triples on each leg at around 375 lbs. He doesn’t really need to go much heavier than that. He has the strength and speed. It is more about refining his movement.
Nick started at 70 kilos for the first set and jumped to 100 kilos for the second set. We worked static sets at 100 kilos. We did not go heavy because Nick had a showcase game coming up in a week at the time of this workout.
I started Nick off with his leg accessory movements by performing a belt squat with a fly wheel of sorts. This exercise had Nick reeling. The first couple times doing this movement is hard. The machine is an eccentric fly wheel. What happens is that whatever speed Nick drives up at, the fly wheel pulls back down with equal measure forcing Nick to light up his nervous system to absorb that energy coming back down to be able to come back up. This increase eccentric strength greatly. Most people, the eccentric load should be where they see the highest peak power. Someone who doesn’t have a high eccentric power probably struggles with cutting, jumping, and agility.
Nick followed this up by super setting the belt squats with backward sled pulls. The weight on the sled was piled on to further increase that football power. Unlike the K-Box flywheel, where the athlete is constantly under tension, the sled pull has virtually no eccentric portion of the movement so it is easier to recover from. Both movements give a huge quad pump.
Then on a slant board, unweighted, I had Nick do calf raises for more mobility work and strengthen the ankle to be mobile and more capable of cutting.
The combination of all three movements makes his football power to cut well improve greatly. In a game situation, his body will have all the skills it needs to co-contract and execute the movements at a high, high speed.
Finding the right formula and equation to see how Nick absorbs energy, produce energy at a high speed with a high load, or how well he can pull or push with a sled, we can get Nick faster, more explosive, and do it all while he continues to gain weight.
After Nick is done at Penn State, I want to get him back to Garage Strength to train him for the NFL.
Yo, It's Dane
Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!
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