When quarterback Aaron Rodgers went out with a collarbone injury in 2013, four-time Pro Bowler Clay Matthews knew the added pressure his defense would face—and he welcomed it. “It’s a great opportunity for us to show up and prove what our defense is made of,” he remembers thinking. “It’s an opportunity for others to pick up their games.” Led by Matthews, the Packer D was able to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive until Rodgers returned.

Matthews’ leadership extends to the gym, where he’s been a star performer his entire career. “I do really explosive movements because they directly correlate to my position,” he says. “You’re up against 300-plus-pound linemen, who are lean.” Where the Super Bowl champ used to train exclusively to build strength and power, his routine has evolved to include yoga and Pilates.

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Of course, in the NFL there’s no accounting for injuries, especially at a high-impact position like linebacker. But Matthews’ varied approach is the best insurance a player can buy. As long as he’s on the field, the Packers will be in the hunt.

Train Like Clay Matthews

Here’s a sample of Matthews’ push/pull workout, designed by trainer Ryan Capretta.


Sets Reps
Cable External Rotation 1 20
DB Shrug 2 8
DB Flat Bench 1 10
Machine Row 1 10
DB Flat Bench 1 8
Machine Row 1 8
Barbell Military Press 1 8
Chinup 1 Failure
DB Lateral Raise (dropset) 3 8
DB Rear-delt Raise 1 20
Fat-bar Curl 1 12
Close-grip Bench 1 12