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Training Camp: A 4-Step Workout With Superbowl Champion Justin Watson

* Q&A with former Rams running back Justin Watson
* Motivation, life balance and what we can learn from the pros
* A football-based workout to try on your own

Football season is in full swing, which can only mean that armchair quarterbacks across the country are getting in their 12 oz. curls on the regular. But anyone who’s ever played the game knows how hard it is–and that doesn’t even count taking hits. You’ve got to be in shape.

To find out how to get gridiron strong, we spoke with former St. Louis Rams running back Justin Watson at his Los Angeles fitness center, Studio Physique.

Now a full-time personal trainer, the Superbowl XXXIV Champion told us about motivation, life balance and the lessons he learned being a pro-athlete that regular people like us can apply. He also gave us a football-based workout to take home. It’s intense, but simple enough that you can do it on your own with the right equipment.


SPY: Your website says that your experience as an athlete taught you how to motivate others to reach fitness goals. What is it about your approach that helps you motivate clients better than other trainers?

Watson: The difference in our approach stems from the mental game. As an ex-professional athlete, understanding the dynamics of how your mind can literally either allow you to achieve fitness goals or fall short of your goals and expectations is key. There’s no better joy than watching our clients achieve more out of their workout regime because they believe in themselves and are pushed to reach their maximum potential.

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Chest Press/Leg Raise & Bench Jump

Target Zones: Chest, Core, Triceps

3 Supersets, 25 Reps

Begin on a flat bench with your legs raised 45-degrees (1). As you lift the dumbells, raise your legs so that your arms and legs are parallel at the peak of the motion (2).

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After completing 25 chest press/leg raise reps, stand over the bench with both feet on one side (3). Grip the bench firmly, and jump from one side to the other (4). Repeat the motion 25 times. The jumps will engage your chest and core, while maintaining your heart rate so that you optimize results.

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Your bio page also discusses balancing all of the aspects of a client’s life to help them reach their fitness goals. What are some of those aspects? 

JW: Understanding how to balance all aspects of your life when it comes to reaching your fitness goals is essential to success. Most often, individuals seem to have yo-yo diets and yo-yo exercise regimes.

There are many factors that usually play a role in this lack of consistency. Are you tying to bite off more than you can chew? Are you carving out the time for your workout at the appropriate time of day? For instance, many of my clients may enjoy a glass of wine a little too often over a week span of time.

My approach is to balance that pleasure out with what I like to call, 3-4 defense or 4-3 defense and maybe graduate to the 5-2 defense. 5 days clean, 2 days enjoyment. Trying to cut a pleasure out entirely is unrealistic, and will only lead you back a square one most often. Balance! Progression!

Another example, over the last decade I’ve watched clients become inconsistent merely because of the time of day they chose to exercise. The early bird gets the worm!

Everyone can make time in the morning by waking up 15, 20, 45 minutes earlier than normal and implementing a workout regimen. Before the excuses of the day, and what I like to say, before the rest of the world wakes up.

Start your day with some form of exercise. It sets your day up for success and makes your choices better on what you eat and drink throughout the day.


Side Plank Shoulder Raise

Target Zones: Shoulders (front/rear), Obliques, Triceps

3 Sets, 15-20 Reps

Begin in a side plank position as shown (1). Raise the dumbell (12-20 lbs for men, 5-10 lbs for women) in a lateral motion to engage the shoulder (2).

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From the peak postion, bend your elbow and complete a tricep extension (3). The shoulders and triceps are related muscle groups, so you can maximize the benefits of your workout by training them together.

Shop Dumbells Starting at $3.38

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What are some lessons from your experience as a professional athlete that the average person can apply to their own fitness journey? What are some common ailments/stresses that pro athletes and regular people both experience?

It’s very important to know and understand that our bodies aren’t immortal. As a professional athlete, facing ailments and injuries were just another part of the job.

As you embark on a new journey to enhance your fitness, knowing that you might face road bumps along the way is important. The biggest key is to listen to your body. If it doesn’t feel right… don’t do it!

If you feel something tightening up or straining, do not do the next repetition. That’s usually the rep that takes a common strain to a severe pull or tear. It doesn’t mean that you can never come back to that exercise or muscle group, it just means not now.

So, I’ll repeat. Simply listen to your body and you’ll avoid the major ailments and pains that any form of exercise can cause.


Bolso Ball Squats/Curl/Press

Target Zones: Glutes, Biceps, Quadraceps, Shoulders

15 Sets, 3 Reps

Begin standing upright on a bosu, holding a curl bar with 5 lb weights on each side. (1). You can add chains to the bar to make balancing more difficult, but it’s not necessary. Complete a bicep curl (2).

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Maintaining the curl, lower into a squat (3). Then simultaneouly return to a standing position and complete an overhead shoulder press (4).

Shop Bosu Boards and Cushions Starting at $9.41

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Slam Ball/Overhead Throw

Target Zones: Quadraceps, Shoulders, Core

3 Sets, 20 Reps

Begin by standing straight up, with your arms extended, holding a slam ball (1). Drop into a squat position as you slam the ball to the ground (2).

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Reverse your grip on the ball (3) and explode upward, throwing the ball over your head as you rise (4). For added benefit, mark an area on the floor behind. Without looking, try to make the ball land in that spot. Doing so will improve your psychomotor mechanics, which is “the development of organized patterns of muscular activities guided by signals from the environment.”

Shop Slam Balls Starting at $10.99

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