Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
When Saquon Barkley was a superstar running back back at Penn State, many of his teammates said that he would prefer to work out with the tight ends and linebackers — who tend to be stronger than the skill position guys — and he would absolutely humiliate everyone when he walked in the weight room.
At the NFL combine, he did 29 repetitions of 225lbs on the bench press (that’s 10 more reps than linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, one of the top linebackers in the 2018 NFL Draft).
In the offseason, Barkley was recorded carrying a 225lb “trap bar” up a steep hill while someone behind him is doing his best to pull him back with using resistance bands in an attempt to mimic an opposing defender. It can’t be overstated how impressive this physical feat is.
J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
Only a few months after safety Tyrann Mathieu signed with the Houston Texans 2018, he went on Twitter and tweeted about his admiration for J.J. Watt’s legendary work ethic. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year is one of the hardest working athletes in the entire NFL when it comes to his work in the weight room, doing everything from flipping a 1,000-pound tractor tire 65 times in a row to squatting 600 lbs.
To fuel that training, it’s been well-documented that Watt’s diet is comprised of him eating 9,000 calories every day, and getting more than nine hours of sleep each night.
Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
The 2017 NFL Defensive Player of the Year isn’t just a product of god-given physical gifts. Rather, Aaron Donald’s incredible burst off the line and speed to wreck offensive plays before they even happen comes from countless hours o speed and agility work he does with his trainers in the offseason.
And to improve his hand fighting technique when engaging with offensive linemen (an under-appreciated art to the common fan), Donald’s trainer DeWayne Brown of Two Tenths Speed and Agility actually had Donald train to protect himself with someone swinging a knife at him. If you’re a L.A. Rams fan, you shouldn’t watch that video if you have a weak heart.
Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. tends to find his name in the headlines for the wrong reasons as of late, so it was nice to see his name pop up in the spring of 2018 for the right reasons. Beckham made waves in the early spring when he was not only filmed doing bench presses of 300lbs, but also posted a video of him pulling a 5,600-pound GMC Denali SUV up an incline with a rope.
Not only that, but there was actually a person inside the vehicle, so add another 180lbs or so on top of that. Clearly, Beckham’s workouts aren’t just relegated to practicing making one-handed catches.
Ndamukong Suh’s game isn’t all about just psychologically intimidating his opponents and finishing them off with cheap shots right as the refs blow the whistle. Suh works his tail off in the offseason, to come into the season ready to wreak havoc on his opponents. He reportedly spends much of his offseason training in a “top secret” chamber on the Nike campus in Beaverton, Oregon (where Suh lives much of the offseason), beginning many of his workouts before 5:00 am.
When he’s not on the Nike campus, Suh works out in his (enormous) home gym, which includes modern exercise bikes and a whole host of other gym equipment.
Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns
If you took one good look at defensive end Myles Garrett when he’s not wearing a shirt, and if you had no idea who he was, you’d think he was a champion bodybuilder and/or one of the strongest men on the planet. The guy literally has muscles on top of muscles. While much of his physical gifts are God given, Garrett is no stranger to tenacious work inside of a gym.
Only weeks after his Cleveland Browns finished off their winless season, Garrett was in the weight room squatting as much as 800lbs. In one other video, he was shown filling up the leg press machine full of 45lb plates, and then having a full grown man sit on top of the sled that he was pushing.
Von Miller, Denver Broncos
Von Miller is one of the most explosive pass rushers in the NFL, and he’s honed that ability through literally hundreds of hours of work in the gym every offseason. Miller reportedly works out as much as five hours per day in the offseason, prioritizing the two parts of the body with the largest muscle groups: the core and the lower body (legs).
But to ensure he retains his explosive ability, Miller also incorporates a lot of high-intensity exercises designed to burn fat and boost his metabolism. As seen above, Miller tries to incorporate kettlebells into every workout.
David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
Former Pro Bowl running back David Johnson’s offseason workouts are renowned enough to where his regimen was featured in a popular men’s fitness magazine. Given some of the work he performs in the offseason to stay in shape, that’s not surprising.
You’ll find all the key weight room workouts that are part of any training regimen (including 600lb back squats), but Johnson also does things like sprinting 30 second on a treadmill going at 15 miles per hour, box jumps that clear over four feet of height, and even standing jumps out of a swimming pool and onto the deck (which require absolutely ridiculous lower body strength).
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
If you think Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints is spending his offseason resting on his Co-NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year laurels, you’re dead wrong. Knowing that he’s going to be the main man in the Saints’ backfield for the first four games of the season (while teammate Mark Ingram serves a suspension), Kamara recently posted a video of himself by literally pulling a weight rack with four plates (of 45 lbs each) AND a full Jeep, doing a Farmer’s Walk.
Vernon Davis, Washington Redskins
When people say an athlete has the body of a “Greek god,” they’re often speaking in hyperbole; however, that’s not the case with Vernon Davis. When Davis entered the NFL in 2006, he weighed 253 lbs, but had an astonishing 6% body fat percentage. That’s not the only ridiculous number he’s recorded, either.
An avid weightlifter in general, Davis has recorded numbers like a 460-pound bench, 685-pound squat, and a 355-pound clean, along with running the 40 yard dash in 4.41 second when coming out of the University of Maryland. Now on the opposite side of 30, Davis focuses his weight lifting efforts on improving muscle endurance.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Between his enormous stature, his off-the-cuff statements (that tend to backfire in his face), and his garish postgame outfit selections, we tend to forget the fact that Cam Newton is one of the most physically dominant athletes in the NFL. The 6’5 quarterback weighs just under 250lbs, making him larger than many pass rushers trying to bring him down.
Newton focuses a lot of his workouts around mobility, flexibility, and conditioning, along with the requisite strength to endure the pounding he’ll take during the season. Newton also believes in the “group workout” mentality, training with fellow NFL superstar Antonio Brown in the offseason.
Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins
Even in the twilight of his career, Adrian Peterson is still, pound for pound, one of the strongest players in the NFL. There are very few running backs in NFL history who run with the same speed, power, and anger that Adrian Peterson does. Peterson uses his freakish strength and explosiveness to burst through the line of scrimmage, as if he were shot out out of a cannon.
An athletic trainer who worked with Peterson during his time at the University of Oklahoma, swears that Peterson could hold 80-pound dumbbells in each hand while making a standing jump to the top of a 36-inch high wooden box. While that story seems nearly impossible, Peterson has proven time and time again that he’s capable of almost anything. At this point, I’m willing to believe anything about a guy who rushed for 2,097 yards in a single season, while opposing defenses stacked 8 or 9 men in the box because they weren’t intimidated by Vikings quarterbacks like Christian Ponder.
Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
Because of his elite speed and agility, most people don’t think of Gordon as one of the strongest players in the league. Few people realize how incredibly strong he really is. At a rock solid 215-pounds, Gordon can do this most men his size can only dream of.
At the 2015 NFL Combine, Gordon did more bench press reps than Steven Jackson, another running back famous for his brute strength and freakish arms. That strength only improved after spending much of the 2016 offseason training with Adrian Peterson.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
If you remember seeing Jones as a freshman at Alabama, you know that he’s always been something special. It’s not just his combination of size and speed that helps him stand out.
He can change directions with the quickness of a much smaller receiver and then kick it into another gear when he starts running north and south.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Whenever his first-ballot Hall of Fame career ends, Tom Brady has already established his future ventures in football. He’ll oversee a ton of “TB12” workouts and training regimens for athletes, modeled upon the strengthening and lengthening workouts he’s performed for the past several years with personal trainer Alex Guerrero.
In addition to said workouts, Brady’s diet, heavily focused on reducing inflammation in then body, has become the stuff of legends. He’s even got teammates like Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski on the plan, eating avocado ice cream.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Overlooked since the day he arrived in the NFL because of his lack of height, Drew Brees is a living testament of the statement “don’t judge the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”
A recent piece by Sports Illustrated magazine detailed how Brees spends hours every day working on his “functional fitness,” which involves specifically focusing on the muscles and movements he’ll use most as a quarterback: flexibility, core stability and rotational strength. Without fail, he comes into training camp of the New Orleans Saints as one of the best conditioned guys on the field.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Think Russell Wilson’s MVP-caliber season in 2017 was some type of fluke? Think again. Wilson devoted the entire offseason prior to training like a madman, and getting his diet in tip-top shape as well. Lifting weights four times a week, Wilson did your classic Olympic weight-lifting exercises, and mixed in everything from speed & sprinting drills to boxing.
And to fuel these workouts, Wilson actually doubled his caloric intake at the advice of Dr. Philip Goglia, a nutritionist who’s worked with celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Chris Pratt; Goglia helped the latter lose 60lbs and earn the lead role in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” film(s).
Vic Beasley, Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons struck gold when they drafted Clemson pass rusher Vic Beasley. At 6-foot-3 and “only” 235 pounds, some worried whether or not Beasley was strong enough to “transfer speed to power” at the pro level. At the 2015 NFL Combine Beasley made it crystal clear that he was just as strong as he was athletic.
He shocked scouts and GMs by pounding out 35 reps on the bench, the 3rd highest total out of any prospect in the entire draft class. Beasley benched more than defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who weighs 339 pounds, and is widely considered one of the NFL’s strongest players.
In addition to his brute strength, Beasley clocked a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash, a time that most running backs would be happy with. With all that in mind, it’s not much of a surprise that Beasley has quickly emerged as one of the top pass rushers in the NFL.
With the 15th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans selected USC workout warrior, Brian Cushing. NFL scouts described Cushing as a player who was fast enough to play linebacker and strong enough to play defensive end.
In 2009 a video surfaced of Cushing muscling through 35 reps of 225 pounds on the bench, breaking the all-time record at Joe DeFranco’s legendary athletic training facility that has served as a training grounds for elite NFL players. But there might be a good explanation as to why Cushing is an absolutely beast in the gym…
In 2017, Cushing was hit with a 10-game suspension for violating the NFL’s PED policy. This marks Cushing’s second suspension for testing positive for PEDs. With such a spotty track record it’s only fair that “Cush” is labeled as an honorable mention.
Steve Weatherford (Retired)
Punters aren’t supposed to look like Steve Weatherford. Punters are supposed to be scrawny ex-soccer players who thought they’d give football a try. But not every punter is Steve Weatherford, who stands 6-foot-2, weights 211 pounds and has 4% body fat. But if you think his jacked physique is the product of God-given genetics, think again…
“I entered my freshman year of high school weighing 107 pounds. I was the lightest person in the entire school, except for a couple of girls,” says Weatherford. Weatherford loved sports, and realized his only chance to play was to get serious about bulking up. Here’s a taste of his favorite lifts at the gym; Squat (420 pounds for 10 reps), Bench Press (525 pounds for 1 rep), and Deadlift (335 pounds for 5 reps). So much for punters being “soft”.