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If a puncher’s chance is needed to secure an NFL roster spot, then Los Angeles Rams veteran Chase Reynolds heads into Los Angeles Rams training camp two fists ahead of his competition.
On Friday the fourth-year running back and special teams ace hopes to enter the club’s UC Irvine training facility quicker and more reactive due in part to a summer-long, high-impact boxing and conditioning program he underwent with celebrity trainer Danny Musico. Despite signing a one-year deal in April and co-starring in an upcoming reality show, Reynolds knows there are no guarantees when the Rams roster is trimmed to 53 on Sept. 3, and developing a new set of in-ring skills may be the added advantage he needs to elevate his on-field performance this season.
“Any time you can find a niche and do something better than the guy next to you, it gives you a better chance of hanging around [in the NFL],” says Reynolds, who is one of six Rams featured in the upcoming the E! docuseries Hollywood & Football, which chronicles the team’s move from St. Louis to L.A. “As a special-teams player, you work with your hands a lot, it’s a lot of quickness with your upper body. Danny’s got me working on hand skills, which are one-on-one battles on special teams.”
If anyone knows anything about the game-changing impact that hand speed has on a contest, it’s the two-time former super-middleweight champion, who’s worked with the New York Giants, Jets, and NHL’s New Jersey Devils in the past. “Speed creates power,” Musico says. “The faster you could throw something up, the more quickness you have to deliver that stiff arm. And the faster you can deliver that blow and beat your opponent, the better you’ll be in your sport.”
Musico’s program combines boxing-based skills with HIIT training in order for Reynolds to help build explosive hand speed while also enhancing hand-eye coordination in order to help him shed blockers downfield or to react to an oncoming corner blitz. The conditioning aspect helps build the necessary stamina when that extra energy is needed come fourth quarter.
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“These are important skills for a running back,” Reynolds says. “It’s good to have good hand-eye coordination when you’re trying to block, you know, [49ers linebacker] NaVorro Bowman coming at you from the inside or outside.”
Conditioning drills: There’s a reason boxers are the best-conditioned athletes in the world: They train for stamina. Quick bursts of all-out effort, the workout begins with a rollout, shoulder- and leg-press triset on the all-purpose Frog trainer, a resistance-training device that resembles an ATV but packs a metabolic-crushing punch. “Without a doubt this helps you develop explosive power, Musico says. “It’s all legs and explosiveness. It will help Chase when he has to explode through holes or just take off at the snap.” Musico will throw in 100-pound over-the-shoulder Rage soft stone tosses to really push the heart rate into overdrive. Each exercise is performed between five to six rounds of 30-second movements with 30-second rests.
Jab drills: Think of jabbing into an “imaginary square,” Musico says: Using either a heavy bag or Nexersys machine, jab the target at full speed for 30 seconds. The most important part of the drill, according to Musico, is pulling back the punch with as much quickness and force as you delivered it. “If you bring it back lazy, it defeats the purpose of delivering it with speed.”
Uppercuts: Beginning in a three-point football stance with boxing gloves on, Musico has Reynolds “firing off the line,” and delivering an uppercut to either a partner wearing mitts or into a heavy bag for 30 seconds. “This mocks a lineman coming up explosively and catching an opponent underneath the shoulder pads and bringing him up off his feet,” Musico says.
Hook and spin: Imagine being a tight end or fullback, shedding a lineman, then getting to the flat to catch a quick slant. Throw a left hook to either a partner wearing mitts or into a heavy bag, then spin and release. “Your quickness is catching a guy and pushing him to the side to shed the block. This time it’s not about engaging the block and lifting him off his feet, but now it’s about moving downfield,” Musico says.
Perform each exercise for five to six rounds for 30 seconds with 30 seconds’ rest in between rounds.
2. Shoulder Press
3. Leg Press
Hook & Spin Drills