T Nation

wide receiver endurance


I was reading an article recently that was talking about NFL wide receivers and their ridiculous amounts of endurance at high speeds. I never really thought about it, but basically they run 30-40 40 yard dashes per game, and then if there’s a two minute drill they do even more , and they come one right after another, with very little rest in between and no noticeable dropoff in speed. And I can’t remember ever seeing one of those guys get winded. What aspect of their off-season workout do you think would lead to that kind of extreme endurance? Do you think your 400 meter sprinting program would be enough, or is something more extreme needed? It seems like to actually simulate that much running on a track in a single training session would go against everything I’ve read about overtraining. I’m not really concerned with building speed, I really just want to have that kind of endurance (or as close to it as is possible for someone who’s not a pro). Thanks for the help!


Probably closer to 30-40 20 yard dashes per game. Most pass plays are <20 yards. Rest is 35 seconds after each play. Average play is @ 7 seconds or less. So, train the same way. Do intervals of 7-10 seconds sprints followed by 30-35 seconds of rest.

It’s really not that much rest. You have to consider that they have to run back to the line of scrimmage each time, so it’s probably more like 20 seconds with a jog back to start. But the crazy thing to me is the two minute drill. That could be 10 20-40 yard dashes in a 3 minute time span with just a few seconds rest in between. THAT is crazy! And you never ever see those guys even slightly huffing and puffing. I want to be able to do that…

Yes, intervals or alternate speed runs are better than 400m runs. A WR needs speed first, if you focus on 400m runs speed development will suffer.

It’s best to use 100m(yds) breakdowns:

20m full speed
20m tempo (80%)
20m jogging
20m full speed
20m tempo

Repeat runs like this 4-6 times in a practice with 1-2 minutes between each ones. This is to be done only once a week. Other track sessions should focus on acceleration (20-40m sprints), top speed (40-80m sprints) or running technique (60-100m tempo runs).

Actually, if you are a College starter, you generally run 60-75 plays a game. You beg for the corner to stop chasing the play, but on a sweep away from you, you might have to chase that little piece of poo for 50-60 yards. The, jog back to the huddle (20 yards or so), then break the huddle, line up, and go in motion if required. 60-75 times a game.

While I agree with Coach T about speed training being pre-eminent, most receivers I know, if they followed a full-recovery appraoch will never get in shape enough to stay in for a full series.

We use tactics similar to Coach T’s, but on anaerobic endurance days, we never allow full recovery. In this way, the anaerobic system is taxed, but the athletes never allow their heart rates to fall below 65% or so. This way, they are essentially getting an aerobic workout also. These workouts are very taxing and last for about 20-25 minutes. We do these on our last run day of the week, and two full days of recovery are allowed to restore the glycogen stores completely, along with recharging a taxed CNS from the week’s lifting.

Just my .02 Coach T. I don’t ever mean to step on toes. I follow your newly shared work with zeal, and appreciate your willingness to share. Also, I ordered your book today, and am anxiously awaiting its arrival.

Thanks for everything,

Coach H

But wouldnt the high volume and intensity of off season training equate to in a maintainance phase a good amount of endurance and tolerance for anaerobic activity?

So Silverback, you’re saying you do the same, or very similar workout CT detailed, but without the 1-2 mins between 100 yard sets? That sounds pretty darn intense (and good).

By the way, I’m not a receiver, I play ultimate frisbee. But I feel like whenever I post a question and mention ultimate, people don’t take it seriously, and I think ultimate compares most closely with the wide receiver position. It’s basically constant sprinting, with very little recovery in between. You do get to play a couple points and then come out and rest for a couple, more like hockey I guess. So I figure if I could just approach the receiver type of endurance I’ll be doing very well. And I’m not all that concerned about speed, as I said. I think endurance is more important in my sport.

Thanks guys!


Numba- actually go do a high volume of sprint training or weightlifting, and then jump in the pool and try to break 9 or 10 minutes for 20 laps. The carryover isn’t quite what you think it would be. Or, try it vice versa. At some point your VO2 max needs to be maintained. I am not sure if the small volume of sprinting prescribed by CT will enable you to run 60-75 all out sprints including reactionary change of direction (blocking), getting hit, decelerating (not even addressed), tumbling, etc. All of which are at full speed. I am not a proponent of aerobic training at all. But, the ability to recover time and time again for 2-3 hours of sprint work just isn’t addressed through 4-6 hollow runs… I believe.

NG- Your sport is very similar to soccer or hockey. I used to play ultimate and soccer during the football off-season to stay in shape (when I wasn’t in track).

We mix up the distances from 400 yards downward. We only do the 400 yarders to accustom the players to ass-clamp from the LA build-up. This is immediately when we get back in the Spring, and is during our teaching/GPP cycle, which lasts 4 weeks. We then cycle down in distance and frequency of anaerobic threshold work as the off-season progresses. Like CT explains in another thread, the real trick is to not stress the CNS or the glycogen stores during the microcycle. Because of this, any time you deplete your glycogen through high volume lifting or volume sprintwork, you might want to give your body 48 hours or so. That is why we use our last running day to do anaerobic endurance training. CT gives a great guideline for a post-workout shake on another thread… good stuff coach.

NG- If you would like the chart we use for anaerobic endurance training, you may PM me.

I did not make it, but it has done very well for us. Remember though, sprintwork must be tied into the type of lifting you are doing for the period, and, it is very easy to do too much. CT’s guidelines for running are very similar to ours, but, we do use a very rigorous anaerobic endurance (guts) day once per week to maintain our ability to repeat sprints. This day replaces CT’s 100m hollow sprints.

Hope this helps.

Coach H

They arent all in a row, remember defense? and on some plays recievers have nothing to do, like on a give up the middle to a full back whats the reciever gonna do? And also i know it wouldnt have good carry over to swimming and visa versa but that is a completely different energy system and exercise(constant versus work, rest, work, rest) so i dont know why that would matter? Most routes are under 20 yards so your telling me that the collective intensity and volume of offseason training(as it is a bit larger than in season or pre season) would allow for one to sprint, rest 20 sec, sprint, rest 20 sec for at the most 10 plays in a row, then rest while the defense is on the field, then repeat the process.

BTW, I do greatly respect Coach H’s knowledge. He is a great coach. I’ll certainly study the idea of increasing anaerobic work tolerance with my athletes in the future (Chris T’s lesson for today: regardless how good you think you are, you can always learn something new).

I just want to clear up that I am in no way saying Coach H is wrong or his methods are bad because if it were to be anything like that it would be mine. Im just saying that everyone is a little biast towards one way or another and I will admit I am biast towards mine, but Coach H is a great strength and conditioning coach and I would by no means put him down, not listen to him, or disregard information given posted by him because I do in fact respect him, him reasoning and his methods.

Silverback, I sent a PM the other day, did you get it? I can’t tell if those things go through or not always. If you want to send me that chart, I’d love to have it. You can email me at [not allowed on forum - mod] if that’s easier. Thanks again!



Please never be defensive about questioning. Without questions, where would our profession be. I do not take offense, and CT looks like he is a big boy also, and has thought thoroughly about what he does.

I guess the whole question comes down to whether a small volume of Anaerobic Endurance training will equate to the following:

10-15 Sets(series) of 3-10 reps(plays) of:

Short strider of 15-20 yards (line up)

Rest 5 seconds or jog motion

5-7 second bursts of all-out activity
(Only Miss Moss is allowed to take FB Trap plays off)
Each burst includes: sprinting, agility, reaction, contact (receiving and giving), and tumbling

Jog 20-40 yards (huddle up)

Rest 20 seconds


One of CT’s Hollow runs equals roughly two plays or slightly more if you watch the whole play. If you add in a short walk distance of 20-30 meters in the middle, you will nearly approximate 2 plays. Then, at the end, just walk 20-30 meters, and do the next one. That is what we are talking about during a series. Do 4-6, and a full series is done. Now repeat the whole thing 3-4 times, and you have made it through the first quarter of a game.

The only way to know if it makes sense is to emulate what they do after you have done the workout for a while. Can you do the amount of sprint work necessary? Add in being hit, reactionary energy, and nervousness, and then you are prepared.

I have found that once an Anaerobic Endurance level is established, it is easy to maintain. We do this through one tough session every 1-2 weeks (guts day). Another way we maintain the bodies ability to rid itself of surges in lactic acid are to finish a leg workout with a set of 20 squats. This is an age-old idea… nothing innovative. But, we chart every player’s 20RM, and make them add 5-10 pounds every time we do this. Try this technique for a full off-season, and see how many players can take 275 the distance. We do these as the volume aspect of a workout. And yes, we start low, and make them break top of the thigh parallel.

Like CT said, the real trick in training athletes is to not crush the CNS. I would love to follow a true Conjugate type system, but 4 intense (MaxS or MaxP)days per week, plus running would be taxing on even the most anabolically supported athlete.

What we have found is that the carryover from the weight room to 3+ hours of sprint work doesn’t work. The swimming example was a poor one, but the body becomes efficient at what it is trained to be efficient at, and for the WR, running is most important.

I hope these ideas help. Remember, emphasis of an energy system and strength quality is necessary, then a small amount of work will maintain that quality’s fitness level in the subsequent stages. Bite the bullet, and do some higher-rep work as a change up (it better be a change-up!), and really work at GPP and Anaerobic Endurance. Then, go back to HYP or STR or POW emphasis, and only do an infrequent session of Anaerobic Endurance to mainatain. Concentrate the bulk of your efforts on the emphasis, but you will lose what you don’t maintain. I hope this makes sense and helps.

BTW-if anyone wants the chart, PM me.

NG-I tried to attach it to a PM… let me know.

CT- Again, thanks for taking all this time to share. And get typing man… I consume your material too fast. Your thinking has built a level of trust, so I am working in some of your techiniques into this off-season for my athletes… but only after I try them.
BTW- OVT is killing me. I ruptured an achilles in August (late to a soccer game, and just ran onto the field with zero warm-up…should I know better?!), and decided to do a OVT cycle when I started again. I am a hurting puppy, but I like the results so far.


Coach H
(and no, I am not Coach H from Dave Tate’s site)

And gentlemen, I am assuming you want you WR’s to stay in for every offensive play… this taking every third or fourth play off is nonsense. If you take out your WR’s every few plays, then the amount of AE training is far less. Or, do you make players go both ways (high school)? Then, more AE is necessary.