Some of it belongs to him. Some of it belongs to his opponents. But it's all good. He's exactly where he wants to be, doing exactly what he wants to do.
Winston Churchill once said that he likes a man who grins when he fights. He would have loved Brian Cushing.
At 6'3" and 260 pounds, Cushing might single-handedly be turning around the Houston Texans franchise. His "nasty attitude" is infectious. After all, when you watch your teammate head-butt a 320 pound lineman – without a helmet – you have to step up your own game.
"This is a grown dog's game," Cushing often screams to his Texans teammates. "Ain't no puppies out here!"
Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert is scrambling. He sees Cushing coming for him and slides to avoid the hit. In football, most defensive players leave the quarterback alone when they slide. Not Cushing. In fact, it just pisses him off.
Cushing accelerates and launches his body at Gabbert, smashing into him an inch before the QB hits the ground. Cush narrowly avoids the penalty and another quarterback is sidelined with bruised ribs.
Sports journalist Chris Baldwin said that Cushing gets inside the head of opposing quarterbacks. "You wouldn't want this maniac going after you either," he writes. "Who knows what he's going to do next? Cushing plays to the edge... and then some."
Cushing's career so far in the NFL is not without controversy, in spite of the rookie-year Pro Bowl selection. The attitude, the accusations, the reputation as a sometimes dirty player. But it's hard not to like a smiling 'villain' that's all in – every game, every play, never a half-assed effort. Covered in blood and loving every second of it.
"Every single tackle Brian makes he tries to hurt the other guy," said Joe DeFranco, Cushing's go-to trainer since he was 16 years old. "You'll never see him just kind of drag a guy down. When Cush tackles you, he hits you to hurt you. He tries to run through your body."
Texans owner Bob McNair agrees. "I don't think there's anyone playing better in the NFL right now than Brian Cushing," he says.
The T Nation Connection
Many athletes view weight training and metabolic conditioning as a necessary evil. They don't enjoy it, but they drudge through it, knowing it'll help their game.
Brian Cushing is not one of those athletes.
Like us, he's a meathead. He geeks out on innovative training methodologies, he's interested in nutrition, and he's always on the forefront of new developments in the sports supplement industry.
In fact, Cushing first appeared on T Nation as a teenager, demonstrating DeFranco's approach to athletic conditioning.
It's no surprise then that Cushing approached DeFranco with something he'd purchased from the T Nation website. It was a bottle of Indigo-3®. We spoke with Joe recently and asked him about Cushing's experience with Indigo-3® and how his training has evolved to take advantage of it.
Brian Cushing wasn't the biggest kid Joe DeFranco had ever seen play for his alma mater, Bergen Catholic High School in New Jersey, but the upstart sophomore looked promising.
Sitting in the stands, Joe could see that the kid was tough. Genetically gifted, sure, but plenty of genetic freaks never play past high school. This kid had tenacity and a degree of mental toughness not seen in most 16 year olds.
Not long after, Cushing and a friend walked into DeFranco's warehouse gym. They wanted to get stronger and faster, really push their game up to the next level. Cushing signed up for a few sessions and the rest is history.
Brian trained with Joe for the next two years of his high school career, four years of college, and on through to the NFL, where unlike most players, he rarely sits out a play when the defense is on the field.
"Cushing has God-given talent and natural athletic ability," said DeFranco, "but he also works harder than anyone else."
"Joe, this Indigo-3®... Have you heard about it?"
Joe had indeed been reading about Indigo-3® when Cushing asked him about it, but he hadn't tried it yet. Given the strict rules about supplements in the NFL, Cushing normally runs his choices by Joe. But this time Cushing ordered Indigo-3® as soon as it became available and started taking it immediately.
"A lot of pro-athletes don't really research training or supplements. But Cush is a guy that reads T Nation in his spare time instead of reading about himself on ESPN.com," Joe said. "Cush told me that he just felt good and had a great workout the very first time he took Indigo-3®."
After about two months on Indigo-3®, Joe reported that Cushing is staying a lot leaner and keeping his muscular weight up, not an easy task for the in-season athlete. "He's playing between 258 and 260 pounds at 6'3", which is a big linebacker. He said he's able to eat a lot more and stay lean and fast. He told me that his body just feels more fluid.
More calories, repartitioned to muscle instead of fat storage, means a better performing, harder-hitting linebacker. "More food, improved recovery, less soreness, and an overall feeling of well-being," Joe reported. "Cush said that he feels better at this point of the season than he ever has before."
Unlike weekend warriors, elite athletes have an almost instinctive sense of body awareness. "Cushing's exact words were, 'Holy shit, I feel a lot different!'" said DeFranco.
"He really does swear by it. He loves it. That's not him endorsing something with cameras on him or anything. That's a legitimate dude who frickin' loves this stuff. This is a guy who knows his body, everything about it, and isn't easily impressed. And he's a guy who's tried every frickin' supplement on the market.
"This is the most excited I've ever seen him about something. It made me take note. At this point, we hadn't changed his training or introduced any new foods or anything! The only new addition was the Indigo-3®. I couldn't wait to tell you guys about his experience."
We think it's noteworthy that Cush buys Indigo-3® with his own money. In other words, he's not a Biotest-sponsored athlete, nor is he receiving any type of compensation for taking the product or talking about the product. We consider that high praise.
Indigo-3® In-Season: Through-the-Roof Work Capacity
We asked Joe how Cushing has been able to change his in-season training now that he's using Indigo-3®.
Joe noted that over twenty NFL athletes are booked with him this year, and every one of their programs is individualized for their needs. Most can handle only two resistance training sessions per week during the season. That's just enough volume for them to maintain their abilities without overdoing it. Initially, Cushing's program also called for two days per week.
"One day Cush called me up and said, 'I was thinking I could train three to four days a week now.' I was like, 'Uh, you're in-season. You can't train like it's the off-season!'" Joe said. "But Cush swore he could now handle it, so I bumped him up to three days.
"'I feel like I want a little more,' he told me later. He asked me to program him in some more time for biceps, what we call 'TV training.' 'I got to look good on TV, too!' he told me.
"So I added a fourth day in there. He's the first NFL guy that I ever developed an in-season strength program for that's lifting four days a week! And he says he feels great," Joe said.
DeFranco gave us a peek inside Cushing's new in-season program. Remember, though, this program was designed specifically for Cush and his needs. Joe D would be the first to say that it's not really something that other trainees should follow. We only included it to show you what kind of work he's doing during the season.
Brian Cushing's In-Season Training Program
MONDAY: Upper Body
|Foam Roll Thoracic Extension||x 20 seconds|
|Lying Internal Rotation Stretch||x 20 seconds|
|Side-Lying Windmills||x 8 each side|
|Lying "Y-Handcuffs"||x 8|
|Mini-Band Face Pull plus External Rotation||x 8|
|Mini-Band Pull-Aparts||x 20|
|Band "Shoulder Dislocations"||x 8|
|Scap Push-ups / Push-ups||x 10|
|1||Barbell Bench Press with Chains||2 x 4-5|
|Use two chains on each side. Work up to two sets of 4-5 reps with 72% of your 1RM (percentage does not include chains).|
|2||Palms-In Dumbbell Floor Press||100's x 8, 115's x Max Reps|
|Don't go to failure on Max Reps, but leave 1-2 reps "in the tank."|
|3A||Neutral-Grip Seated Cable Rows||4 x 10|
|3B||Underhand Mini-Band Pull-Aparts||4 x 20|
|4A||Iso-Hold Dumbbell Shrugs||3 x 10|
|4B||Thumbs-Up Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise||3 x 12|
|5||Abdominal Plank Series|
TUESDAY: Lower Body
|Foam Roll IT Band, Quads, Adductors, Hamstrings||x 20 seconds|
|SMR with Lacrosse Ball on glutes/piriformis||x 20 seconds|
|Seated piriformis/glute stretch||x 20 seconds|
|Roll-overs into V-sits||x 10|
|Quadruped Knee Circles||x 10 fwd/bwd|
|Moun tain Climbers||x 10|
|Cossack Squats||x 5 each side|
|Static Hip Flexor Stretch||x 20 seconds|
|Box Jumps: 70% max height||x 8 total jumps|
|1||Band TKE'||3 x 20|
|2||Barbell Box Squats with Chains||6 x 2|
|Use this progression model: 55% 1RM (two sets), 60% 1RM (two sets), 65% 1RM (one set), 70% 1RM (one set). Percentages do not include chains.|
|3||Upright Sled Walks||3-4 x 30 yards|
|4A||Standing Barbell Calf Raises||3 x 10|
|4B||Seated, Single-Leg Foot Dorsi Flexion with Mini Band||3 x 15 each foot|
|5A||Hanging Leg Raises||2-3 x 15|
|5B||Standing Dumbbell Side Bends||2-3 x 15 each side|
THURSDAY: Full Body
Combine your favorite upper and lower body warm-up exercises from the previous workouts.
|1||Dumbbell Drop Hurdle Hops||4 x 3|
|Do four sets of three jumps, dropping 20 pound dumbbells. Set the hurdle so it's about the height of your bellybutton. Rest only 30-45 seconds between each set of 3 jumps.|
|2||Close Grip 3-Board Bench Press||2 x 6|
|Place index fingers on smooth part of bar. Work up to two sets of six reps with 80% of your 1RM bench press.|
|3||Cossack Squats with Chain||2 x 8 each side|
|Put one chain around neck, and use "slide technique.|
|4A||Mini-Band Pull-Aparts||4 x 25|
|4B||Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns||4 x 8|
|5||Pec Flyes on Cable Unit||3 x 15|
|Use light weight, just looking for pump.|
FRIDAY: TV Vanity Day
Perform a light warm-up of your choice, but I want you to conclude this warm-up with 2 x 20 mini-band pull-aparts and 2 x 20 TKE's.
|1||Eccentric Barbell Curls||2 x 5|
|With 95 pounds, lower the weight as slow as possible, then quickly "cheat" it up.|
|2||Palms-Up Dumbbell Curls||3 x 10|
|3A||Orange-Band Hammer Curls||100 total reps|
|3B||Orange-Band Triceps Pushdowns||100 total reps|
|4||Abdominal Plank Series |
Light Rice Digs
|60 (to reach 100 total for the day)|
"My Arms are Looking Sweet!"
The linebacker seems to approve of the workout. A mic'd up Cushing was caught admiring his new biceps development on the big screen in a recent game. "My arms are looking sweet!" he said to a teammate.
"In all honesty, the only thing Cush is doing different this year compared to years before is he added Indigo-3®," DeFranco notes. "His work capacity has shot through the roof. I talk to him every week and ask if he needs to back down the training, and he doesn't.
"Cush averages like 65 to 70 plays – hard plays – per game, which is very, very high, and he's training four days a week! That simply didn't happen until he started Indigo-3®."
The Game Changer
With its combined effects of nutrient-repartitioning and increased work capacity, Indigo-3® is the game changer. From the dedicated garage lifter to the NFL's elite, Indigo-3® is pushing up the ceiling of human performance.
The rumors are true: Brian Cushing is using a performance-enhancing substance. Quarterbacks beware.