Posted by Will Brinson
DALLAS -- So, somehow, despite a heavy influx of lobster enchiladas and brisket tacos into my diet over a week-plus trip to the Dallas for the Super Bowl, I somehow managed to lose weight. For that, I probably have to thank the good folks at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. The only other explanation would be my personal exercise regimen, and considering the joke of a gym at the Indigo Hotel, that's probably not the case.
See, during the week, I was able to experience the mobile Gatorade testing lab in full force. It's similar to what I did last year, except this time I wasn't whipping up on DeSean Jackson, and the tests were roughly forty billion times harder.
We've got video and picture proof, of course, and I'll break down the individual exercises below, but the skinny is this: the Gatorade scientists believe that through proper diet, exercise and the use of a "fueling plan," they can help athletes become better at what they do. This is also why NFL rookies Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Cameron Heyward and Mark Herzlich (and more) worked out in the lab and were put on camera by NFL Films -- they want to make sure they're in better shape by the combine and then the NFL Draft than they are today, obviously.
A lot of regular people, as I mention below, just drink water when they exercise. Some people don't eat much for lunch. Some folks only drink coffee during the day. (Note: I am all of these people.)
So the principle idea -- for both professional athletes and us regular Joes -- is that through performance testing techniques and customized nutrition plans, there will be rapid improvement in performance. Here's what I went through to determine my baseline:
The Bod Pod (Body Composition)
This was perhaps the most brutal part of the entire experience, mainly because it involves being filmed, photographed and weighed while wearing just compression shorts and an awkward little skullcap/beanie thing. Flattering to the nth degree, indeed.
It would also be a bit nightmarish if you're claustrophobic, given that the bod pod is a tiny egg that sucks all the air out to figure out how much body fat you've got. The good news, though, is that the pod ended up telling me I'm "moderately lean" (15.4 % body fat!) and that's always a nice way to start the day.
Regulator (Resting Metabolic Rate)
The purpose here is to measure resting metabolic rate -- basically (I think), how does my body "exercise" when I'm not actually exercising. Figuring out that baseline gives the Gatorade doctors a better idea of precisely what differential I'm running on while actually exercising.
This is not a difficult test, duh. (Although it is kind of boring -- I think I read Jake Locker's name upside-down about 35 times.) But it does determine how many calories the body needs per day -- that's right, the body actually likes ingesting calories.
Talk about a cure-all for boredom -- the wingate is the hardest exercise I've ever done. No joke whatsoever; if you can't tell from the video of me cycling for 30 seconds, what happens is you get loose on the bike and get a 10-count to build to your max peddle speed. (It measures your anaerobic capacity, power and fatigue.)
Then they drop the hammer, Harry, by adding an ass ton of weight to the bike, which essentially creates a climb of 90 degrees. For about 15 seconds, it felt like a doable task to max out for 30 seconds, and then my legs turned to a Bill Cosby promotional product. I have no earthly idea how I managed to finish, but I would suggest avoiding this type of exercise if you can. Especially if someone's filming you.
Cognitive Function (Lighted Whack a mole)
That's not the technical term for the test, but it's close enough. The idea is to test your hand-eye coordination, reaction time and peripheral vision. Fortunately, I have superhuman eyes (20/10, suckas) and spent 85 percent of my college days playing video games. I also like shouting random numbers while slapping at lights in my free time, so I excelled here.
Motor Skills (ISPAN)
This bad boy us basically designed to hose short people because it tests the time in which it takes you to turn off the individual lights. Since I'm, ahem, not six feet tall, I sucked at this. Also not helping: me being about to pass out 10 minutes removed from the wind mere. A nice 30 second break to get the blood out of my feet and back in my dome might have been embarrassing on film but it felt nice in real life.
This is a sneaky test because the goal is, obviously, to run a mile quickly. But it's also to run it without maxing out your heart rate. I chose the "6.0 speed" setting which equates to a 10-minute mile. And I definitely could have gone 6.5 or 7.0 and looked less slow but it played to my advantage because I was able to run the entire mile without ever getting above e low-end of my Zone 3 (163 and up; it's the aerobic threshold) and mostly keeping my heart rate in the low 160's. This resulted in the Gatorade doctors being pretty, pretty surprised at how in shape I am.
So, I'll be going through this test again in a few weeks, and there are a couple goals. First it should be noted that I almost never consume liquid calories during the day -- i really only drink water and black coffee.
The Gatorade scientists told me (and advertisements politely remind everyone) that you need to drink Gatorade before, during and after workouts. My response to this: "Well, OF COURSE you say that. You want to move product."
Their response: "No, but seriously, it will make you a better athlete and improve your workouts." So I'm going to give it (read: changing my diet and actually listening to what they have to say) a try. If it works, I'll let you know. If not, I'll definitely let you know.
Along the way, I'll be guided by a special Gatorade iPad application that allows me to input what I'm consuming and what exercises I'm doing to make sure I'm following their suggested plan.
Also helping is renowned trainer and all-around awesome guy Todd Durkin (he's worked with, of note: Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and now me) who'll be providing a workout plan that'll boost my core and flexibility and stuff. I'm told there may be a six-pack involved if I work hard enough.
Or if I don't work at all.
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