Barber's routine includes unconventional exercises such as the "Tiki bag," which works his abdominals and lower back.
Michael J. LeBrecht II/1Deuce3 Photography
By Bill Syken
TIKI BARBER TEAM: New York Giants POSITION: Running back HEIGHT: 5'10" WEIGHT: 210
Driven by big ambition and a big man, he does the heavy lifting that has made him a more powerful ballcarrier
Tiki Barber wanted to get stronger. Much stronger. "For a couple of off-seasons I was boxing to get in cardiovascular shape," he says. "It's a phenomenal workout, but I wasn't getting strong. I had fumbling problems. I needed something different."
Enter Joe Carini, 46, a former competitive powerlifter who won New Jersey's Strongest Man competition six years running in the 1980s. Since February 2004 he has been training Barber in a spartan West Paterson, N.J., gym, and the eighth-year NFL vet has gained 18 pounds of muscle. Carini's philosophy is to do low reps of very high weight, with little rest in between. "When he's on the field, it's one shot," Carini says. "If [the Giants] are marching down the field, he doesn't have time to recuperate." Carini also incorporates unconventional exercises into the routine, including the "Tiki bag" (right) and the "yoke carry."
Has the regimen worked? Let's just say Barber has become one of the NFL's most explosive rushers. Last season, his first after training with Carini, Barber ran for a career-best 1,518 yards. As for the fumbles, Barber had only five -- down from an average of nearly nine a year the previous four seasons.
Tiki takes Five
1. LEG PRESS Two to six sets of two reps. High weight: 950 pounds. Builds leg drive.
2. SAFETY BAR SQUAT One squat per set. High weight: 750. Improves explosiveness.
3. STIFF-LEGGED DEADLIFT Bar held overhand with hands slightly more than shoulder width apart. Two to four sets of three reps. High weight: 405. Strengthens hamstrings, lower back.
4. YOKE CARRY(Photo above) With 400 pounds on barbell, carry yoke on shoulders 10 yards, turn and walk back. Strengthens hips, knees and upper back.
5. TIKI BAG Lie flat on back clutching a 130-pound weight bag on chest. Rise to a standing position, keeping bag in place. Throw down bag. Works abdominals and lower back.