Off-Season Conditioning and Rehab With Philip Rivers

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Watch video of Phillip Rivers discussing training at D1 Sports Training.

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Watch video of Phillip Rivers discussing training at D1 Sports Training.

Since getting his shot as the San Diego Chargers, starting QB in 2006, Philip Rivers has put together three consecutive seasons of blistering numbers. The young gun has thrown for 10,549 yards and 77 TDs, including 4,009 and 34, respectively, in the 2008 campaign. His football IQ, strong arm, unshakable mechanics and quick release have all contributed to his impressive stats, Pro Bowl recognition and the Chargers' playoff success; but without his toughness and intelligent training, the former N.C. State standout would've been watching from the sideline.

Three seasons, two major injuries, zero games missed: "It all came from my love of the game and not wanting to let my teammates down," Philip says, while explaining his decision to play in the 2007 AFC Championship Game on a torn ACL. "I grew up dreaming of playing in that type of game. To get there and think, 'I'm going to sit here and watch,' wasn't an option. There was nothing that was going to keep me out of that game."

This kind of toughness wasn't new for Philip, as he finished the '06 season on a busted foot. Following that display of manliness, he spent the entire off-season rehabbing the Lisfranc injury [an extremely debilitating sprain to a joint in the midfoot]. "I didn't have surgery, but I was in a cast for eight weeks," he recalls. "I was able to play on it and not miss any time during the season. It's been back-to-back off-seasons that I've had to deal with something. Fortunately, it was the off-season, so I could get through two seasons without missing a game. I had time to get it ready to go."

Philip's resolve is fueled by a passion for football that is readily apparent on any Sunday. "That fire and intensity have always been there for me," says the 6'-5", 230-pounder. "I'm a competitor and I like to win. When those two things come together, it's pretty obvious, and it can rub people the wrong way, but guys who know me, know what I stand for."

Philip takes his passion into the off-season, as well. To prepare for the 2008 NFL campaign, he made his training home at D1 Sports Training in Huntsville, Ala., a facility he co-owns. "The fact that it's right down the road from where I grew up, I was able to come here to train, rehab and do my therapy. It's been a huge benefit for me to be able to leave San Diego, go home and continue to make progress."

Philip's drive to succeed gets a boost from his win-now outlook for the Chargers. "Anything less than a Super Bowl, and we feel like we underachieved." he says. "We've grown every year. A few years ago [in the 2006 season], we made the playoffs and lost in the first round…then we made it to the AFC Championship Game. We have a nucleus of players, and the window is open for us to go ahead and win it all. You look back at teams when they won the Super Bowl, and it could be years before they get back there. We don't want to miss our opportunity with the group of guys we have now."

In addition to rehabbing his knee and keeping it healthy, Philip had other goals heading into the off-season at D1. "I wanted to get a little leaner than I've been," he says. "Like most other athletes, later in the season the conditioning gets cut down. You're lifting to just maintain, and just like anybody, you get a little flabby. I want to get that cleaned up and clean up the diet."

Rebuilding Rivers
Philip was blessed to grow up under the tutelage of his father, a long-time football coach. Given virtually 24 hour access to a high school field, Philip worked on improving his footwork, accuracy and arm strength. With a key to the school's weight room, he was able to grind out traditional workouts, consisting of Cleans, Squats and Bench Presses, whenever he wanted.

That training was immensely beneficial for Philip at the time, but his workout approach has shifted due to his recent injuries. The attention is now on the minute details of performance and injury prevention, something stressed by David Peterson, D1's director of therapy in Huntsville.

"This training focuses on strengthening the muscles around the knee," Peterson says. "This protects the ACL, and as long as those muscles are strong, it will be protected. The next thing to do is look at balance. A lot of people don't get that part. The muscles have to fire in a certain way when he's running, stopping or cutting. If the muscles fire incorrectly, it can put the ACL in jeopardy."

With the same dedication and grit that drove him on the playing field, Philip attacked his training at D1 with relentless intensity. "He understands that what he does now will give him a better chance of staying healthy throughout the season," Peterson says. "He'll do whatever he needs to do to get back to doing what he does."

Rear-Resisted Bungee Split Squat
• With bungee cord attached to belt around waist, walk away from partner to create tension in cord
• Assume split-squat stance facing away from partner
• Keeping chest up and front knee behind toes, lower into Split Squat until front knee is at 90 degrees
• Drive up into start position and repeat for specified reps
• Perform set with opposite leg forward

Sets/Reps: 3x12 each leg
Coach: The Split Squat puts a lot more pressure on the front leg. With a regular Squat, the weight is shared 50 percent on each thigh. This puts at least 75 percent of the weight on his front leg, which creates more strength training and balance on that leg. We use tension in the cord, which allows him to complete all of his sets and reps.

Bosu Squat With Med Ball Adduction
• Assume athletic stance on Bosu with inflated side down
• Hold small med ball between knees
• Keeping chest up and knees behind toes, sit back into squat until knees are at 90 degrees
• Drive up into start position and repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x12
Coach: This works balance in the lower legs and quads. We have him squeezing the weighted ball between his legs to get as many musclesas possible firing at one time. We want him to focus on squeezing the ball and making sure he doesn't go past 90 degrees with his knees.

Single-Leg Throws on Airex Pad
• Balance on one leg with Airex Pad underneath foot
• Keeping balancing leg slightly bent, play catch with partner 10-15 yards away for specified duration
• Repeat on opposite leg

Sets/Duration: 2x30 seconds each leg
Coach: He's throwing and catching the football, but the biggest thing is the proprioception and balance with the ankle, knee and hip.

Front-Resisted Bungee Squat
• With bungee cord attached to belt around waist, walk backwards away from partner to create tension in cord
• Assume athletic stance facing partner
• Keeping chest up and knees behind toes, sit back and lower into Squat until knees are at 90 degrees
• Drive up into start position and repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x12
Coach: This works on his strength as he's walking out there and when he's squatting. There is something pulling against him while he's trying to focus on squatting, so it has a lot to do with balance as well as strength. We have him go as far as he can without hurting himself or creating too much resistance.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: FOOTBALL | ENDURANCE TRAINING | PHILIP RIVERS | INJURY RECOVERY | COACH | TRAIN | STANCE