Street Smarts

By Hannah Wallace Photography by William S. Speer February 1, 2009

David Langworthy became associate director of physical conditioning at Bradenton’s IMG Performance Institute in June. A championship college wrestler, Langworthy has also worked as a strength and conditioning coach for Ohio State University, University of Pittsburgh and University of Nebraska and has helped train more than 100 first-round NFL draft picks and countless other elite athletes.

I wrestled because nature pretty much told me I wasn’t going to be a real mobile athlete. I needed a sport I could train my way into being more proficient. I’m pretty honest about myself, what I can and can’t do. So I have no problem being brutally honest with an athlete.

It’s a lot easier to not eat 500 calories than it is to burn it off. I see people on the treadmill, and then they think they can have that carrot cake that’s 480 calories. 

If my weight fluctuates four or five pounds, I’ll eat less. When you’re honest with yourself, you’ll be able to control what you do. People talk about how they don’t have the money or the equipment. I’ve seen clips of Survivor—there’s no treadmills, and yet everyone loses 20 pounds. Ask yourself, “Do I want to lose weight?” Then lose weight. If you don’t want to do what it takes, don’t pretend, just go ahead and lead a decadent life and enjoy yourself. 

We have a golfer here, Sally Watson. She’s committed to Stanford on a full golf scholarship. She had knee surgery five months ago. Her doctors cleared her, and now she’s squatting 150 pounds, three reps. Not because of anybody else; because of her fortitude. Sometimes lifting a heavy load is like overcoming fear. Now she’s even mentally stronger. In some way, that’ll carry over to the course. 

The worst thing that people do is mimic what other people do. They might see a big bodybuilder and think, “Whatever they’re doing is what I need to do.” It’s duplicating behavior without knowing why they’re doing it that way.

Another mistake people make is sacrificing a range of motion by using weights that are too heavy. Kids will be embarrassed that they’re not lifting the same weight as the guy three platforms down. If they’re using the proper technique, I don’t care what the number is. The important thing is doing it properly.

If you run a mile and walk a mile you burn the same calories, because walking takes longer. I still think walking is a pretty good activity. Can you imagine telling people 100 years ago that you’d have to encourage people to walk?

When I was at Ohio State, [NFL running back] Eddie George was recruited by Penn State as a linebacker. We brought him in as a running back. He dropped a half a second on his 40 time, based purely on being willing to work. Freshman year, he fumbled twice on the goal line, and they booed him. He was on the sidelines crying. Senior year, he won the Heisman. Eddie remained the same person he was 15 years ago, worked two sessions a day when he was scheduled for one.

If you put the person who says they can’t lose weight next to the athlete who says he can’t get in shape for a sport, they’re both saying the same thing. They’re both saying they’re not willing to pay the price.

A great many things are based on marketing and sales and the latest gimmick for improving flexibility or golf swing. That’s why the fitness industry is full of things that people don’t actually have to work to use. Sometimes people have to step back and realize the emperor’s naked.

People need to realize, a championship coach writes a book, but he became a championship coach before he wrote it. The TV ad with a guy using the $19 flimsy ab exerciser—those abs were there before the apparatus. 

How much time should you exercise per week? Whatever it takes for you to attain your goals. You talk about 300 minutes a week or 30 minutes five days a week. We’re so number-driven. But nature doesn’t like a hard edge. We’ve seen people who eat three Big Macs a day and have 3 percent body fat. The answer is whatever works for you.

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