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The Super 25 Way: No. 5 DeSoto trains for power

Power cleans help keep the Eagles strong and quick

11:32 AM, Oct. 02, 2012 EDT

Rita Bell Photography / DeSoto football players help maintain their quick and explosive speed by performing the power clean once a week in the weight room.

When DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas) linebacker Taylor Young hears the sixth period bell ring signaling the end of the school day, he takes off running.

It’s not that Young is excited to be done with class; he has to rush to the weight room on Mondays and Tuesdays.

“It’s all business,” he says of every workout.

Inside, you won't hear a lot of joking around (but maybe tunes from Future playing in the background). DeSoto is serious about improving its No. 5 national ranking and avenging last year’s loss to Dallas Skyline in the Class 5A Division I state playoffs.

The Eagles are protecting their spot with a 5-0 record so far. For Young and his teammates, the key to their success is plain vanilla: hard work and training to maintain quick, explosive power.

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“We preach speed at DeSoto,” Young says. “We play fast — all of us.”

While DeSoto holds twice-weekly strength workouts, the Eagles owe much of their success to summer speed and conditioning, according to coach Claude Mathis.

For six weeks, players worked out four days a week for two hours each session. The team used Nike SPARQ gear — from parachutes to speed hurdles and power balls — to speed train with resistance. Strength coach Brian Stansberry also integrated Olympic lifting, drawing training inspiration from LSU’s football strength coach Tom Moffitt.

During summer training, players were encouraged not to do too much in the weight room, but to get really good at certain lifts, such as the power clean.

Now, weeks into the season, the team maintains summer strength gains. Every other Wednesday, Stansberry schedules an intense core workout that includes Russian Twists, plank to pushups, V-ups, bicycles crunches and supermans. Exercises are performed with little rest between sets, which is also how the team trains on Mondays (lower-body training) and Tuesdays (upper-body training).

This strength-training schedule allows enough recovery time before Friday games. Mathis doesn’t want his athletes’ bodies getting stressed with weights. Rather, he wants every player to be as fresh as possible.

To help build their explosive speed and power, DeSoto players turn to the power clean. Stansberry says it translates to big hits and the ability to quickly get off the line — all that gained in just 4 sets of 3 reps once a week.

Stansberry's Power Clean Tips

  • Explode through the heels, keeping the chest up and core tight
  • Keep weight on the back half of your feet
  • Don’t bend your elbows; arms should be like steel ropes
  • Once the bar is below the knee, pop your feet and land on your heels in a front squat position

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