TEAM: San Francisco 49ers
POSITION: Tight End
INTENSE and raw," is how Davis describes the two-a-day, 90-minute,
core-strengthening workouts he began doing six days a week at the Athletes'
Performance Institute, in Tempe, Ariz. Over six weeks leading to the NFL
combine, the regimen helped Davis lower his time in the 40-yard dash from 4.56
to 4.38, increase his vertical leap from 40 to 42 inches and gain nine pounds.
The 49ers took him sixth overall. "We wanted to intensify Vernon's core
strength by increasing his mobility and stability," says Luke Richesson,
Davis's trainer at API. "He uses his overall power from the core to protect
himself when he's going for the ball."
Davis does three
or four sets of each exercise, focusing in turn on different muscle groups so
he can work longer with less fatigue. The former Maryland star is an ideal
pupil because he's a stickler for taking care of himself. "Eat right, get
enough sleep and remain stress-free," says Davis, who sleeps eight hours a
night and closely monitors his diet (box, opposite page). "If I'm groggy
and stressed, I don't eat right. That's when my core gets weak."
DRILL ( Davis
wears a weighted workout vest; the extra resistance, 100 pounds in his case, is
optional.) Grip handles with palms facing inward, arms extended. Pull upward
steadily, through a full range of motion so that chest reaches height of hands.
Four sets of eight. CORE FACTS Keeping the body controlled--never swing or move
abruptly--engages the entire core. The exercise also works lats and biceps.
1. Keiser Squat
beneath pads and grip handles (far left). Explode upward to standing position.
Drop back quickly into squat and repeat. Four sets of six reps. Air resistance
is set to the equivalent of 250 pounds on a standard squat machine. CORE FACTS
Richesson (watching Davis) considers this the single best exercise for working
the glutes and the entire core--a great way to enhance Davis's ability to break
swiftly off the line or separate from a linebacker. The key is to do each rep
at high speed. Davis prefers a machine to free weights because he can rise as
quickly as possible with no fear of the weight shifting or the bar flying off
his neck and interrupting his rhythm.
DRILL Cinch belt
around waist with bungee cords attached to a base for resistance. Crouch into
sitting position, hips back, arms at side, torso straight up. Jump as high as
possible, extending body so that it's straight, and whipping arms up overhead.
Land in takeoff position. Four sets of eight; can also be done without bungee
cords. CORE FACTS Works glutes, hips and entire core. Enhances ability to
accelerate and leap.
3. Lateral Pillar