Seeking strength, LT taps Tiki trainer
There's a bunch of early-morning workout warriors at Joe Carini's House of Iron in Pine Brook, N.J., whom Carini calls "die-hard football fanatics." He posed the following question:
You think LaDainian Tomlinson has anything left in the tank?
"They were all 'no' and 'done' and 'He's washed up, hasn't been good in years,' " Carini said. "They're all going to sit there and say, 'Where did he come from again?' "
It is now up to Carini to help steer the once-great Tomlinson back to or approaching the sensational standard he set during his nine-year stay in San Diego. Tomlinson, since signing a two-year deal with the Jets for around $5.2 million, has blamed his reduced production the past two years more on the Chargers' pass-first approach than his own physical decline.
He's putting his muscles where his mouth is. The Post has learned Tomlinson is enduring rigors he never before has inflicted on his soon-to-be 31-year old body.
Tomlinson is augmenting his participation in the Jets' offseason program with a much more grueling regiment and has enlisted the services of the charismatic and somewhat unconventional Carini to reverse the cruel demands of father time.
"This guy wants to work," Carini said. "The men who don't like to work don't last very long with me, and they sure as heck don't break any personal records."
Carini had no relationship with Tomlinson prior to one week ago, when last Thursday he walked through the door of Carini's gym accompanied by Tiki Barber, Carini's star pupil. Earlier, Tomlinson had reached out to Barber, picking the brain of the Giants all-time leading rusher, determined to know how Barber reinvented himself late in his career and enjoyed his greatest success near and just after the age of 30.
"He got in touch with Tiki and said 'What's the secret?' " Carini said. "And Tiki goes 'Well, I'll bring you to him.' "
As a six-time winner in the '80s of New Jersey's Strongest Man Competition, Carini believes in moving around incredible weight and espouses one theory above all others:
"I get 'em as strong as humanly possible," he said.
Under Carini's guidance, Barber became tank-like in his power-base and retired at the top of his game. Carini, who also works with Giants offensive linemen Chris Snee and Shaun O'Hara, laid out his plan to Tomlinson and this past Monday morning the eighth-leading rusher in NFL history entered the House of Iron ready to work.
Tomlinson weighed in at 220 pounds and plans to play at about 213. Carini wanted to see what he was dealing with and had Tomlinson pause-squat -- the hips are four inches ***** below ***** the kneecap -- more than 500 pounds. He did 545 pounds on the safety-bar squat and up to 800 pounds on leg press reps. There will be jumping drills on a 30-inch box, but the Carini twist is Tomlinson will be holding 70- or 100-pound dumbbells when he's in the air.
The next day, working on the upper body, Carni rigged up a "special dead-lift apparatus" and Tomlinson hoisted 570 pounds. For the bench press, Carini uses a 90-pound bar plus 125 pounds worth of chains and Tomlinson pushed 520 pounds.
"Everything he's done so far he's never done before," Carini said. "He told me when he went home his wife asked how it was and he said, 'Man, he beat the living hell out of me.' I told him, 'You got to make the commitment, it's not going to be an easy ride for you in the beginning because it never is.' "
The schedule calls for Tomlinson to work four days a week (two hours per day) with Carini. This is in addition to the regular workouts with the Jets in Florham Park.
"He's got so much heart," Carini said. "I'm telling you, the man is on a mission. He wants to prove everybody wrong."
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