HIS PANTHERS teammates call him Dad, but Vinny Testaverde, a 6'5", 233-pound two-time All-Pro and the oldest starting quarterback ever to win an NFL game, is, at 43, still playing with the boys. He did leave last week's game with what he called minor tendinitis in his Achilles tendon, but the fact that he led the Panthers to an Oct. 14 win over Arizona and has completed 32 of 53 passes for 288 yards this season is testament to his uncommon conditioning discipline. Testaverde has kept a training log since his rookie season and envisions a post-NFL career as a personal trainer. "I just haven't gotten into it," he says of training others, "because I haven't had a chance to retire yet."
Testaverde's resurgence this season is partly due to the crucial additions he made to his routine this summer. "Vinny's strength workouts are legendary," says Kory Angelin, who began working with Testaverde in July. "But he wanted to delve into the world of speed and agility."
Angelin helped Testaverde do that with multimovement exercises that focus on lower-body explosiveness and core stability, work each muscle to capacity—and require props. Angelin also likes to keep Testaverde upright. "Think about a bench press," says Angelin. "How much time does a football player spend on his back?" He laughs. "Not much if he's good." Testaverde still does strength training (weightlifting, mainly), but here are the key exercises in his new regimen.
Ten-to-15-yard sprints. On flat and uphill surfaces Testaverde runs while wearing a harness attached to Angelin to create resistance. Near the end of each sprint Angelin unhooks the latch attaching Testaverde's harness to his own, forcing the QB to adjust abruptly to no resistance. "A kid would probably fall on his face the first time," says Angelin.
In four feet of water Testaverde runs for 10 minutes doing a series of techniques, including high kicks (knees raised to waist level) and butt kicks (heels kicked back toward buttocks rapidly). The water minimizes impact and creates resistance.
Testaverde runs through the squares of a 10-foot agility ladder—essentially a rope ladder lying on the grass—using a variety of shuffling foot patterns. It hones coordination and footwork.
This exercise uses a two-foot rubber band with a handle at each end. Angelin holds one side, Testaverde the other. They face each other with the band taut, and Testaverde, arms forward, continually switches his grip on the band from left hand to right. This works the core; Testaverde does it standing on a balance disk to build his lower body. "Throwing," trainer-to-be Testaverde reminds us, "really comes from your hips and lower body."
STEPHEN DUNN/GETTY IMAGES (TESTAVERDE)
STAYING ON THE BALL Testaverde got his record-setting win after training with Angelin (left) and his many props.
COURTESY OF JASON ROFFI (ANGELIN)
[See caption above]