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Train Like Running Back Sensation Ezekiel Elliott

Trainer Danny Musico shares the core and boxing conditioning workout that helped the Dallas Cowboys rookie sensation to a ROY-worthy season.

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9 Fitness Goals You Can Achieve by the End of 2016
9 Fitness Goals You Can Achieve by the End of 2016

This Saturday, the evening before Super Bowl LI, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is expected—perhaps unanimously—to win this season’s NFL Rookie of the Year award. The fourth overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft led the NFL with 1,631 yards rushing for the 13-3 Cowboys.

And one of the Cowboy rookie’s biggest supporters this season came from an unlikely follower—a Giants fan. Former super-middleweight champion, celebrity trainer—and New Jersey native—Danny Musico saw greatness up close and personal, long before Elliott scored his first career touchdown in his NFL debut against Musico’s beloved Big Blue. Musico got a chance to work with Elliott over the summer, playing a supporting role in enhancing the 6’, 225-pound physical specimen’s God-given skills with his own signature brand of boxing conditioning through a grueling HIIT workout geared toward core conditioning and hand-speed enhancement.

SEE ALSO: New York Giant’s Explosvie Leg Workout

“It was an absolute honor to work with Ezekiel,” says Musico. “He was a beast on the field and in the gym. He deserves it.”

Musico, whose client list includes A-list celebrities and several NFL and NHL athletes, met the young superstar at a function over the summer, with the pair agreeing to work together while the Cowboys were in Oxnard, CA, preparing for training camp. “I promised him I could help him enhance his hand speed and quickness,” Musico says.

Twice a week during July, the two met for an hour at Musico’s Sixty Hotel workout studio. Musico’s high-intensity quick-hit intervals had Elliott going through round after round of 30-second all-out effort followed by a half-minute of recovery.  “We just go round-robin till we drop,” Musico says. “And that last round is when you’re gonna drop.”

A day’s workout centered on five pieces of equipment—Frog Trainer, Rage Soft Stones, RealRyder indoor cycler, Nexersys, and Sparc Trainer—each designed to enhance a different element of Elliott’s game by helping strengthen his core and endurance, as well as hand speed and power. And like a good defensive coordinator, Musico always had Elliott guessing, never following the same exercise sequence two workouts in a row. “It’s the old method of going into the gym on Monday, and you see the same guy doing chest and bi’s starting with the same routine, same exercise every time,” Musico says. “Not here. We don’t want the muscles getting used to performing the same exercises at the same time always, so you want to shock the muscle. Here are the 5 moves for this high-intensity workout.


“With the Frog Trainer, your body is suspended in the air like an accordion to create a center of gravity strength,” Musico says. Whether performing a shoulder or leg press on the Frog (Musico would mix it up from day to day), Elliott would have to hold himself in a stretched position for 30 seconds, return, rest for a half-minute, then press again. “Having the upper- and lower-body strength meeting at the core, that’s what the Frog does. So every time Ezekiel’s in a set position and he pops up and that ball is stuffed into his gut, he remembers the Frog.”


Tossing a 50-pound stone over your shoulder takes power, but chasing it down, bending, cradling it, then hoisting it over your shoulder again for 30 taxing seconds is what helps Elliott hit the hole for a big gain. “Explosive power is what the stones are all about,” Musico says.


With the only indoor bike on the market that actually turns, Musico would have Elliott pedal full throttle on the Real Ryder for 30 seconds, then after a 30-second light breather, Musico may call out, “Bike right!” which would then prompt Elliott to shift the bike to his right for 30 seconds. By now his core is fully engaged and quads in flames as he churns out a full 30 seconds. Then it’s left, center, or whatever direction Musico calls out. “It’s what helps you get that strong second push till the play is over,” Musico says.


Helping Elliott gain even more power from his already powerful guns, Musico has Elliott jab, uppercut, and hook the various punching pads attached to the Nexersys. Musico instructs Elliott to continuously try and push his hands through the pads, which boosts his devastating ability to push off defenders en route to the end zone. “It’s all hand speed,” Musico says. “This is what helps with the stiff arm.”


This is what gutting it out in the fourth quarter feels like. For four minutes—30 seconds on, 30 off—Elliott’s legs are pumping all out to generate as much wattage as possible on this body-strength powered machine. “It’s about interval explosions and recovery,” Musico says. According to Musico, the average athlete’s wattage would hover around 400 to 500 watts. Elliott’s? “Nearly 900 watts.”