FOR DANIELLE HUNTER, TRAINING STARTS BEFORE CAMP
DANIELLE HUNTER, the Vikings' defense end, had a breakout season last year with 14½ sacks, tied with Von Miller for fourth-most in the league. He's hoping to carry that momentum into his fifth season, so he made sure to carefully prepare his body for the grind of training camp, which begins on July 26. Hunter does his offseason training in Houston, where he grew up, and the weeks before camp are unbearably hot. So his trainers at O Athletik scale back his workouts. In the spring, for instance, he'll often do a series of 100-yard sprints, but not in the summer. "The most important thing for me right now is making sure I stay hydrated, get tons of sleep and stretch," Hunter says.
Hunter tries his best to get eight to nine hours of rest a night, and he takes any free moment to stretch. "In football you end up in a whole bunch of awkward positions," he says. "If you aren't stretched out enough it can cause injuries. I stretch whenever I get a chance, because you never know what position your body might end up in."
But he doesn't neglect strength and conditioning. A week-and-a-half before the start of Vikings camp, Hunter spent his afternoon doing an incline workout, backpedaling and lunging up a hill to get his quads and legs ready. He also runs a mile at least every other day during the offseason to maintain some basic endurance. "My strength, I can get that back, but my stamina is something that I have to keep up because that enables me to go a long way whenever I'm playing football," he says. "When everybody else gets tired, my stamina is still going to be there."
A trainer tends to Hunter's body, focusing on his glutes, groin and Achilles. But you can try these basic poses at home.
SEATED LEG CRADLE (GLUTES)
Sit cross-legged. Lift your left leg, cradling your thigh with your left arm. Grab your left foot for support. Switch legs.
WALL STRETCH (ACHILLES)
Place your hands on a wall at shoulder level. Step back with your left leg and keep it straight. Lean forward and slightly bend your right leg. Switch.
SIDE LUNGE (GROIN)
Stand with both feet together. Step to the side with your left foot, keeping your toes pointed forward. Lower to a lunge, bending your right knee. Switch sides.