Marcus Mariota’s Speed and Strength Workout



By Andy Haley

Before he was picked second overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, Marcus Mariota charged up his already lightning-fast speed with a five-drill workout designed to make him faster and more elusive. The workout begins with a dynamic warm-up and technique work, then progresses to drills that improve his acceleration, top-end speed and multi-directional movement.


Falling Starts
HOW: Stand on the starting line with your feet together. Keeping your body in a straight line, gradually lean forward. When your body reaches a 45-degree angle with the ground, take your first step forward and explode forward into a sprint, maxing out at about 75 percent of top speed.


WHY: Falling Starts force you into a forward lean that’s similar to the position your body should be in coming off the line in an actual sprint. Finishing at three-quarters speed helps you avoid shocking your body by sprinting too fast, too soon.


Sets/Distance: 2-3×30 yards


Resisted Sprints
HOW: Attach a resistance cord to your waist and have a partner stand behind you holding the cord. Stand on the starting line in a two-point stance. Accelerate into a full sprint as your partner provides light resistance.


WHY: Sprinting against resistance teaches your body to cover more ground, because your legs have to work harder to push off and drive forward. You’ll be much faster when no one is holding you back. Since the resistance also slows you down, you can focus on your technique with each stride.


Sets/Distance: 4×25 yards


Full Sprints
HOW: Stand on the starting line in a two-point stance. Accelerate into a full sprint.


WHY: With the resistance removed, you’ll feel lighter and can hit top speed. You’ll put those bigger, more powerful steps you learned with Resisted Sprints to good use.


Sets/Distance: 2-3×25 yards


RELATED: 3 Simple Tips to Improve Your 40-Yard Dash


Resisted Lateral Shuffle
HOW: Attach a resistance cord to your waist and have a partner stand to your side. While your partner provides resistance, shuffle laterally away from your partner, driving off your trailing leg.


WHY: More than half of a football game is played side-to-side. This drill makes you stronger laterally, teaching you to drive off the ground with your full cleat to create as much power as possible.


Sets/Distance: 2-3×20 yards each direction


Resisted Backpedal
HOW: Attach a resistance cord to your waist and have a partner stand in front of you. Backpedal away from your partner, pushing against the ground through the balls of your feet.


WHY: This drill helps keep your body balanced by improving backward movement. It’ll also torch your quads.


Sets/Distance: 2-3×20 yards


Marcus Mariota’s Upper-Body Workout
Following his speed work, Mariota moved on to the strength portion of his workout. His upper-body workout focused on his chest, back and shoulders. The goal was to build lean muscle mass so Mariota will arrive at the Titans’ training camp at a heavier weight than he played in college.


3-Level Band-Resisted Push-Ups

HOW: Place 6-inch, 12-inch and 18-inch plyo boxes in a row. Place your feet on the lowest box and perform a specified number of Push-Ups with a band underneath your hands and wrapped around your back. Lift your legs to place them on the middle box, moving your hands in the same direction so you can perform Push-Ups again. Move your feet to the highest box, and repeat.


WHY: The three different levels strengthen your chest, shoulder and triceps from different angles, stimulating more muscle growth.


Sets/Reps: 4×5 each height



3-Way Pull-Ups

HOW: Perform Neutral-Grip Pull-Ups, Traditional Pull-Ups, and Alternating-Grip Pull-Ups for the specified number of reps, with no break between variations.


WHY: Using different grips strengthens the back, forearms and hands. These moves target the upper-body pulling muscles in a way that’s impossible with traditional Pull-Ups alone, or with Chin-Ups.


Sets/Reps: 4×3 each


Manual-Resisted 3-Way Circuit
The key to building lean muscle mass is to increase the amount of time your muscles are under tension. A circuit of three shoulder exercises with manual resistance works the front, side and back of Mariota’s shoulders, challenging his muscles throughout the entire movement—not just half a complete rep. Manual resistance is as simple as it sounds. Another person resists your movement—just enough so you can move your arms.


Manual-Resisted Overhead Press
HOW: Sit on the ground with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, and position your hands in front of your shoulders. Have your partner place his hands on your fists. Moving against your partner’s resistance, drive your arms overhead. Slowly lower your arms to the starting positon, fighting your partner’s attempt to hold your arms up.


Set/Reps: 3×10


Manual-Resisted Reverse Flys
HOW: Lie with your stomach on an incline bench with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Cross your arms under the bench so that your forearms are touching. Your partner stands over the bench with his hands on top of your elbows. Moving against your partner’s resistance, drive your arms backward. Slowly lower your arms to the starting positon, fighting your partner’s attempt to hold them up.


Sets/Reps: 3×10


Manual-Resisted Towel Rows
HOW: Lie with your stomach on an incline bench holding one end of a towel with each hand. Your partner sits in front of you also holding the towel. Perform a row while your partner resists your movement. Slowly extend your arms, fighting your partner’s attempt to pull them.


Sets/Reps: 3×10


DB Curl Drop Set

HOW: Select a weight with which you can perform Dumbbell Curls for 10 reps. Complete 10 reps and reduce the weight by 5 or 10 pounds. Perform another 10 reps, lower the weight again and perform another set.


WHY: Curls for the girls, bro! Also, this “Run the Rack” finisher provides a nice muscle pump at the end of a training session, and it’s an easy way to add some lean muscle mass.


Sets/Reps: 3×10 each


Resisted Rope Pull

HOW: Assume a quarter-squat position holding a heavy rope with both hands. Pull the rope toward your body against your partner’s resistance


WHY: This exercise will smoke your grip and forearms, muscles that are especially important for Mariota, who needs to be able to hold onto the ball and throw a tight spiral.


Sets/Reps: 3×1


QB Core Circuit
The core is a lot bigger than just the abs. Varying leg positions and sit-up types trains Mariota’s abs, obliques and deep core stabilizer muscles. A strong core is critical for football players to be powerful, balanced and durable. Mariota’s core strength keeps his body stable and strong when he’s throwing passes, and it helps him fight off tackles from larger defenders.

  • Sit-Ups – 2×15
  • Single-Leg Sit-Ups – 2×15 each leg
  • Single-Leg Sit-Ups and Twist – 2×15 each side
  • Toe Touches – 2×15





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