Categorized | Football

Walter Payton ‘Sweetness’ Workouts

One of Walter Payton’s famous routines was running ‘The Hill’ now known as Payton’s Hill at Nickol Knoll in Arlington Heights, Illinois. In the 1970s and 1980s a landfill site provided a perfect grade for training. Payton sprinted up the 92-foot hill for repetitions sometimes as many as 20 times. At the top of the hill is a beautiful view of the city of Chicago, more than 26 miles to the east; and forests, farmland and suburbs to the north, west and east. Running the hill was a top example of physical fitness for performance as a football running back.

Walter Payton often sprinted the hill [MAP/SAT] with friends and teammates, such as Dennis Gentry (Full size image of thumbnail image of Walter Payton and Dennis Gentry running uphill is copyright of the Daily Herald newspaper in Arlington Heights).


Running the hill at about 2:27 into this descriptive video of Walter Payton’s career.

In the off-season,  Payton did rigorous weight-training, but his daily routine included runs with obstacles near Pearl River in Mississippi. He ran through “The Sand” (65 yards worth of beach) or up another slope — “The Levee” — a 45-degree grade.

Walter Payton’s football pre-game warm-ups were energetic and definitely didn’t follow the ‘no bouncing’ rule during stretching* that is often declared by fitness professionals. His hamstring stretches, quad stretches often had a bounce, not the prolonged, passive 20 to 30-second stretch you might have heard recommended by fitness experts. The 5-10, 200-pound running back missed one game his rookie year and then played 186 consecutive games from 1975 to 1986 — all with the Chicago Bears.

After the 1983 season Payton had arthroscopic surgery on both knees, which he joked was his ‘11,000-yard checkup.’ He was on his way to breaking Jim Brown’s career rushing record of 12,312 yards, which he succeeded on Oct. 7, 1984, against the New Orleans Saints. Payton broke the record with a six-yard sweep at Soldier Field.and extended the record to 16,726 yards in 1987.

* Leads to Understand Why Walter Payton’s Bouncing Pre-Game Stretches
May Have Been Beneficial in Preventing Injuries

Gabriel DA, Kamen G, Frost G. published training recommendations on existing literature. Changes in the sensory receptors (i.e. Golgi tendon organs) may lead to disinhibition and an increased expression of muscular force. Agonist muscle activity results in limb movement in the desired direction, while antagonist activity opposes that motion. Both decreases and increases in co-activation of the antagonist have been demonstrated. A reduction in antagonist co-activation would allow increased expression of agonist muscle force, while an increase in antagonist co-activation is important for maintaining the integrity of the joint. Thus far, it is not clear what the CNS will optimize: force production or joint integrity.

Avela J, Kyr

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