Nine-time Pro Bowler, three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and Super Bowl LVI champion Aaron Donald continue to be one of the most – if not the most – destructive forces in the entire NFL. Playing along the defensive line for the Los Angeles Rams, he strikes fear into the hearts of offensive guards and tackles across the sport.
Last season, however, Donald played his lowest count of games in a season, only being able to suit up for 11 starts due to injury. It brought his sack count down from 12.5 in 2021 to 5.0 in 2022. Still, the absurdly strong 31-year-old is back in training now, working hard to return for another season.
Donald’s return to give a big boost to the Rams
The work that Donald puts in away from the field has crafted one of the best players in the league, and without him at 100 percent for large parts, the Rams slipped away early. Now, the NFL odds have them way out at +2500 to win Super Bowl LVIII – only two years since they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
This is greatly down to their 2022 showing of 5-12, but there were many, many mitigating factors to consider. There was a great deal of staff, and non-star player turnover, and, more importantly, an injury plague swept across the team. Missing Donald for such a huge spell hurt, but so did losing so many OL starters and backups.
With 12 combinations on the offensive line in as many games, Donald removed as a defensive line threat, and the likes of Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Allen Robinson II missing significant spells, the Rams couldn’t have done much better. This season, they’ll look to come in healthy and with new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.
Getting ready for the big comeback campaign
The best of the best train all year and, if anything, ramp up the intensity of their strength training during the long NFL offseason to get that additional edge in time for September. Given his primary position, defensive tackle, Donald needs to boast an inordinate combination of speed and strength, but the main focus has long been upper-body strength.
Last season, MH reported on a session between Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Donald, which featured the muscle-bound duo doing plate pinches and dumbbell holds for forearm strength and grip, as well as TRX inverted row holds and dumbbell rows for back strength and ab-wheel rollouts.
Through the league’s video player Now, the NFL has also showcased the incredible footwork and speed drills that the 285-lb, 6’1’’ Donald does to prepare for the season. He’s got a personal record on the bench press of 500 lbs, but he’s also a master of the bunny-hop, toe-step, and sprints drills, with the combination making him a near-unstoppable force.
For Donald, and many other athletes in the NFL, speed, and strength go hand-in-hand. Players need to make sure that they’re quick off the mark as well as strong enough to break away from or even break through the equally athletic player trying to stop them from making plays.
Aaron Donald is a master of his craft, which is why his YouTube channel, loaded with training videos, boasts 138,000 subscribers.