Big Walt…

Have you heard of the analogy of a person being like a “big cat”? How a person of considerable size moves with such quickness, strength, explosiveness and fluidity that the only thing you can you think that describes them is a lion or tiger. Most of the time you hear someone described like this you do not think twice about it. Two weeks ago I was listening to the radio and I heard this compliment being paid to Walter Jones before his retirement press conference and I right away I knew that I may not see find a better example. The belief amongst his teammates was that “Big Walt” would come out to the field with a paper sack, take the opposing defensive end out of the sack, played with him like a cat plays with a mouse, and when done put the end back into his paper sack and leave the field. He was a “big cat”, playing with his opponents, letting them think they had a chance when they never had a chance.

Walter Jones began his career at Holmes Community College starting at both tight end and left tackle. Once done transferred to Florida State University. It was evident when Big Walt first walked in Florida State that he was different. They are few things you can teach in life, the old basketball adage concerns height. Well at Florida State they say you can’t teach quickness. “He’s probably the best athlete that’s ever come through here on the offensive line. 6-5, 300 pounds, 4.9 speed in the 40. You know anybody else like that come through here?” Jimmy Heggins, FSU offensive line coach. Jones while at FSU added to his already impressive frame while still retaining his trademark quickness, clocking a 4.86 40 during spring drills, benching 455, and possessing a 34 inch vertical.

After one year at FSU, Walt declared for the NFL and was taken 6th overall by the Seattle Seahawks. In his 180 career games Walter Jones is credited with giving up 23 sacks and 9 holding penalties. Again that is 23 sacks and 9 holding penalties in a 13 year career. In addition Walter was named a first team All Pro 4 times and to the All Pro team 6 times overall. All-Pro guard and former teammate Steve Hutchison called Big Walt an anthropological assessment because of his long torso and short legs allowing for a very low center of gravity and legs that moved like ducks underwater, always churning.  Former Pro Bowler and teammate Robbie Tobeck got an in-your-face look when he signed with the Seahawks in 2000 after playing six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.“I had always been the fastest lineman on any team I played on.  We’re working out one day and he’s laughing at me. I’m running with everything I’ve got, and he’s toying with me when we were racing. So I said, OK, well he’s bigger than me and faster than me. Then the workout moved to the weight room, which I considered my domain especially in the squat. I’m like, OK, I’ll get him in the squat, instead, he buried me. It’s God-given ability that he took and developed even more by hard work and dedication.”

And how did he build this amazing strength, hard work in the weight room and oh yeah pushing cars. What was a locally known secret became well publicized in a Sports Illustrated article posted below. So Big Walt thank you for playing the position the way one hopes it is played, with quite dignity and dominance.

When the Seahawks asked Walter Jones to attend the team’s off-season conditioning program this year, he said no thanks. He’d worked out on his own for three summers, and after making the Pro Bowl each season he wasn’t going to change. The key to his workout? Pushing an SUV around a parking lot near his home in Harvest, Ala. When he played for Aliceville (Ala.) High, Jones and the other linemen sometimes had to push small cars in preseason workouts. These days Jones is up to a three-ton Escalade. Twice-a-week truck pushing is the only lower-body training he does, and Jones says it’s an excellent substitute for squats, which hurt his back. The work in the parking lot also translates well to the field. “The hard part [about playing offensive line] is staying low for that long,” he says. “After doing this, it doesn’t bother me if I’m stuck in my stance for a long time. I also feel like I finish off blocks better.” Other elements of his self-training regimen: weightlifting, abdominal work and sprints. “I run short sprints, because a lineman’s game is about short bursts,” he says. “I can’t work out like a wide receiver or a defensive back. Those guys have to run all day.”

Walter Jones’ Five-Day Workout

Abs exercise (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays)

1. Lay on your back with legs extended straight out and heels on a exercise ball. Keep hands on stomach and head and shoulders on the ground as you lift the midsection up. Try to keep the body in straight line while holding that pose for at least 45 seconds. Do four to five reps.

“You don’t worry too much about your abs when you’re a lineman because it’s hard to have a six-pack,” Jones says. “But you want to do exercises like this to handle situations on the field. If someone gives you a shot in the gut, you don’t want to start crying out there.”

Lineman Stance drills (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays)

1. With back against a wall (or a goalpost in Jones’ backyard, in this case), bend the knees and lower the hips into a left tackle stance (with legs bent at an angle between 45 and 60 degrees). Keep arms extended straight out and hold for at least 45 seconds. Do four to five reps.

“By doing this, you can improve your ability to stay in your stance for a long time,” Jones says. “You should be able to stay in your stance all day if you’re a lineman, whether a quarterback is calling an audible or not. This will help keep you low.”

Truck-pushing (Tuesdays and Thursdays)

1. You need a driver to put the truck in neutral with the brakes on. You should be on pavement with a very slight downward slope.

2. Put both hands on the back bumper and bend your knees at an angle of about 90 degrees. As you lean into the truck, keep your back straight and your arms nearly extended (elbows slightly bent). Put one foot forward — whichever one feels most comfortable to you — and the other back.

3. Yell “Go!” After the driver releases the brakes, start pushing immediately and continue for 25 yards.

4. Rest for 90 seconds. Do it 10 times in all.

Weightlifting (Mondays and Wednesdays)

1. Dumbbell bench (3 sets of 10) 70 to 90 pounds
2. Dumbbell incline (3×10) 65 to 75 to 80 pounds
3. Dumbbell curls (3×10) 70 pounds plus bar
4. Shoulder press (3×10) 60 to 80 pounds
5. Shoulder shrugs (3×10) 100 pounds
6. Abs crunches (200 reps/day plus another 100 reps after dinner)

“When I lift weights, I’m really just trying to maintain the strength that I already have,” Jones says. “People ask me what I can max but I don’t have any idea. I haven’t done that since college. My main goal with the weights is to just do the little things that help me on the field.”

Cardiovascular (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays)

1. Run 10 80-yard sprints
2. Run eight 60-yard sprints
3. Run six 40-yard sprints
4. Run 10 20-yard sprints
5. Run 10 10-yard sprints

(After each sprint, walk back to the starting point and immediately start running again. The recovery time is the time that passes between the end of the run and the start of the next run. He doesn’t time the sprints.)

“I run shorter sprints because a lineman’s game is about short bursts,” Jones says. “I can’t work out like a wide receiver or a defensive back. Those guys have to move at fast speeds and change direction and they have to run all day. What I need to worry about is having the right technique and stamina.”

Posted by: Nickay

3 Responses to “Big Walt…”

  1. The Scap Says:

    That training routine is pretty mild. Either pushing that Escalade is a tremendous amount of work or he’s getting by on little more than ridiculous amounts of natural ability. That’s fine for Big Walt but us mortals have to work for it.

  2. Wow. I do not know what to say. I never thought pushing a 3 ton vehicle for 90 seconds from a deadstop up a slight incline would be considered mild. And there must be something to it, I mean he only gave up 23 sacks in 13 years in 180 games for a sack every ninth game. If you had season tickets that means you may not have even seen a sack during a whole season. In 2004 he gave up 0 sacks and only one penalty for 5 yards. This sounds like a great experiment to test out.

  3. Hey I love pushing vehicles as much as the next guy. I pushed my family minivan up and down the alley behind my house to prep for events in the past but his program call for “a very slight downward slope.” Its not Big Walt’s severe training that sets him apart. He’s just a big cat playing with mice.

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