Super Bowl Special: Suspended Brees

Super Bowl Special: Suspended Brees

In the shadow of many significant athletic achievements live the strength and conditioning coaches who work overtime to give their athletes the physical and mental durability necessary to aspire to greatness. One such coach is Todd Durkin, owner and director of Fitness Quest 10 (, and the off-season trainer of New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, as well as more than 30 other NFL players. Tight on the heels of Super Bowl 44, Durkin gave us a window into how he prepares Brees for the rigors of the season, and how tools like the TRX Suspension Trainer help him compete at an elite level.

MF: Has your training with Drew evolved over the seven years you’ve been with him?
TD: Every year I introduce new challenges. But my methodology has always been very similar, and that is to focus on core strength, joint integrity, strength, speed, power quickness, flexibility and recovery. Within each element I’m always coming up with new exercises, especially quarterback specific activities. A couple of years after I started working with Drew, he basically had his shoulder ripped out of his socket, so I have to be aware of that when we train

MF: When did you start using TRX?
TD: Right around 2006, when he was coming back from his shoulder injury. TRX was still in its infancy and I was just doing some basic moves for the shoulder and back and arms - all body weight stuff. I could really work on strength and muscle endurance and keep the tempo high, because Drew really likes to train at a high level of intensity.

MF: What are the main attributes of this system?
TD: With suspension training you can work on strength, on joint integrity, on power moves and on the core all within the same moves. Because it allowed us to hit multiple muscles in a relatively short amount of time, it became one of our favorite tools.

MF: What moves do you find most beneficial to Drew?
TD: There are two. One is the pendulum swing, where he’s in a push-up position with his feet suspended in the foot cradles and he’s swinging his feet in a curvilinear direction and tucking his knees toward his elbows. He gets a tremendous amount of hip and shoulder disassociation, which is common for a throwing athlete. The other is a little crazier and one of Drew’s signature movements: The double TRX jackknife with a push-up. He’s suspended about a foot off the ground. His feet are in the TRX and his hands are in another TRX located about three feet in front of him, and he does push-ups and jack knifes. There is a tremendous amount of core work and stabilization. This is an advanced technique, and I don’t do it with 99.9 percent of my clients.

MF: What other tools do you use to get Drew ready for the season?
TD: I’m a big believer in diversity, so I use heavy ropes, something called the Power Tower, sled drags, Bosu and Swiss balls. I use dumbbells and Keiser equipment and heavy medicine balls called D balls. I mix in supersets and drop sets and metabolic conditioning. I do a lot of mental focus drills, as well. My program is designed to keep him challenged both mentally and physically.

MF: Outside of the weight room, what are the keys to Drew’s success as a quarterback?
TD: He’s physically in great shape, but his mental approach to the game has made him a world-class athlete. He’s tremendously focused on his work. When he comes in here, it’s go time and he’s really, really competitive both with himself and with the other athletes he trains with. His life revolves around the workout. It’s easy for people to say he gets paid to do that, but there are a lot of professional athletes that aren’t as consistent with their overall conditioning program as Drew is.

To train like an elite NFL quarterback, try Todd Durkin’s Brees 9 TRX Workout.

Exercise Sets Reps
Suspended Lunges 2 10-15 per leg
Hip Extensions 2 15
Low Row/Biceps Curl (Super Set) 2 10-15
Chest Press/Overhead Triceps Extension (Super Set) 2 10-15
*Hover Plank 1 30-60 seconds
*Atomic Pushups 2 10-15 reps
*Pendulum Swings 1-2 12 -20

Suspended lunges are quite similar to a Bulgarian squat, in that the back leg is elevated by a supporting structure (in this case it’s a TRX). But rather than having the back leg fixed throughout the movement, the motion of the TRX affords a greater degree of mobility. This means that as you drop into the lunge your rear leg will move backward, and will come forward during the ascent.

For Hip Extensions your feet are suspended in the loops of the while you’re lying facing the ceiling (supine). Contracting your posterior chain will elevate your body such that everything but your head an upper back are off the ground. For a more advanced version, curl your feet toward your glutes, just as you would during a typical hamstring curl.

The Hover Plank is identical to a standard front plank, the exception being that your feet are off the ground, supported in the straps of the TRX. For a more advanced move, contracting the abs, hip flexors and core can turn the plank can turn into a Pike (aka jackknife), as Drew is performing below.

* These will work like a giant set since all three moves hit the core