Training Day

Colorado’s Loren Landow has quietly become the go-to trainer for a host of world-class athletes across a variety of sports. What’s his secret?

November 2012

Landow’s client list reads like a who’s who of elite athletes. In addition to Franklin, three-time X Games champion skier Bobby Brown goes to Landow for his own dry-land work. Olympic gymnast Alicia Sacramone enlisted Landow to help her return from a torn Achilles tendon she suffered at the 2011 World Championships, and current and former NFL players such as Chad Brown and Bo Scaife have used Landow to invigorate or revive their careers. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) world champion Nate Marquardt trains with Landow three times a week. And in the minutes before the Denver Broncos kicked off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2012 AFC Wild Card Game, quarterback Tim Tebow called Landow for a pregame mental boost. The two had been working together since the 2011 NFL lockout; later that January day, Tebow tossed the now-legendary 80-yard touchdown pass that beat the Steelers in overtime.

At Landow’s clinic, most of the jerseys, shorts, and framed action photographs on the wall are signed with variations of “couldn’t have done it without you” and “you’re the reason I’m here today.” Athletes who perform at world-class levels usually have the necessary talent; what some, maybe even most, of them lack is Landow’s perfectionist expertise. Any trainer can make you puke with endless, forced reps of sprints, push-ups, and godforsaken burpees. Landow—author of My Off-Season with the Denver Broncos: Building a Championship Team (While Nobody’s Watching), and a frequent presenter at personal-training conferences—is more of a professor.

Landow’s training philosophy derives from the theory of dynamic correspondence. Simply put, increasing the development of force (strength), while decreasing the time it takes to produce that force (speed), results in greater efficiency. Building upon each unwasted effort, Landow’s athletes become stronger, faster, and better.

They also tend to suffer fewer injuries due to his method of tailoring training programs to specific time and pressure calibrations that mirror the demands they’ll face in competition. Landow’s NFL players don’t run laps around the field, for example, because that’s a waste of time. Instead, he drills into them the keen understanding of how to physically explode for the five or six seconds each play requires, then rest until the next snap. And Landow’s MMA fighters must tap into multiple energy systems as they exercise in 15- to 20-second bursts within five-minute rounds, expending a similar amount of controlled but explosive energy—in a similar way—that they would during an actual bout.

Everything the 39-year-old teaches—including biology, physiology, and chemistry—most trainers and athletes would rather leave in a textbook. Landow painstakingly explains the science behind the exercises, how everything from a stutter-step past a defender to sticking a landing off the vault works, and why it matters. It’s an attention to detail that results, for Landow, in 12-hour workdays of individual sessions and group workouts—often with no lunch. (Landow demands similar commitment from his clients; he often asks them to consider whether a momentary impulse—to skip or cut short a workout, or to sleep in just this once—is worth sacrificing their long-term personal goals.)

It’s not just the intricate knowledge that appeals to these athletes; it’s also the person who’s dropping the knowledge on them. Marquardt, the world-champion MMA fighter, says he’s learned to trust that Landow is “training Nate for Nate,” not for a team or for his own personal gain. “He is a genius when it comes to the science behind his work,” Marquardt says. “[He understands that] I don’t go into the cage to lift weights and run sprints. I go into the cage to fight. My hardest training should mimic what I do in competition.”