How to Work Out Like Super Bowl Champ Zach Ertz

Zach Ertz punctuated his best NFL season yet with the biggest imaginable exclamation point. The young star made history by hauling in the game-winning catch of Super Bowl LII in spectacular fashion back in February.

Since defeating Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Pro Bowl tight end knew that he and his defending champion teammates are the team to beat. That’s precisely why Ertz pushed his 6’5″, 250-pound frame to the max in preparation for this 2018 season, which kicks off with his Eagles hosting the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, September 6.

“I attacked this offseason as hard as I ever did,” Ertz told “I’m going into year six in the NFL, so, unfortunately — but fortunately — I kind of know what to expect. Big hits are part of the game. So, paramount to every time I train is just to focus on staying healthy and doing everything I can to stay healthy.”

Ertz and the Eagles will look to repeat as Super Bowl champs this season.
Philadelphia Eagles/Drew Hallowell

Staying healthy will give Ertz, 27, a chance to perform even better after his Super Bowl breakout. He’ll look to team up with MVP candidate Carson Wentz to outpace the 74 receptions, 824 yards, and career-high eight touchdowns he recorded last season.

“Being a tight end, you have to be able to do everything,” Ertz added. “You have to be able to run routes, you have to be able to block, pass-protect and run with the ball after a catch. So, that’s how I attack my workouts — focusing on doing everything.”

Ertz has to work hard for fitness bragging rights at home, too — he’s not the only pro athlete in the household. His wife is Julie Ertz, soccer star for the World Cup-winning U.S. women’s national team. The two even posed for ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue in 2017.

ERTZ so good when bae comes to CHI Town for game day!

A post shared by Julie Johnston Ertz (@julieertz) on

ERTZ so good when bae comes to CHI Town for game day!

A post shared by Julie Johnston Ertz (@julieertz) on

For now, however, Ertz is solely focused on the 2018 season. He broke down his most important workout moves for us, sharing exactly how he’s been training to defend the Super Bowl title.

Give the moves a try, but remember: You’re not a Pro Bowl tight end. If you need to scale down the reps or weight at any point, don’t hesitate. “Make sure you’re doing everything safe and controlled and focusing on the entire movement — not just how much weight you can put on the bar,” Ertz advised. “I make sure the body is moving correctly and I’m staying strong during the movement instead of just jerking the weights around to see how much I could lift.”

Ertz also understands that every guy doesn’t have the luxury of making his body his job the way that Zach and fellow athletes do — but he still implores guys out there to carve out the time for fitness, emphasizing that even a short daily workout is better than nothing. “If you’re going to an office and sitting there 12 hours a day, you’re not doing the body any good,” Ertz said. “Even if it’s for 15 or 25 minutes on your own at home in between putting the kids to sleep and going to bed, you have to take care of your body regardless of what your profession is.”

Here’s a look at his explosive workout regimen, and how each move translates to the gridiron.

Zach Ertz’s Championship Defense Exercises

Back Squats with barbell

4 sets of 3 reps, 3 sets of 2 reps

Ertz’s split: 3 sets, 225 for 3 reps, 275 for 3 reps, 315 for 2 reps, 365 for 2 reps, 400 for 2 reps

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Football is all about exerting physical dominance over your opponent. That aim makes a tight end’s ability to generate force crucial. Ertz hones that explosiveness with a series of low rep, high weight back squats.

“You’re doing double-leg force production,” the tight end explained. “When you’re blocking someone or when you’re running, it’s all about putting force into the ground and that’s the epitome of the back squat. You have to put your body under stress when you’re training, so that you’re able to replicate that as you’re playing.”

Ertz cautioned against loading up the bar with as much weight as possible and attempting to pump out reps as fast as you can, though. Instead, he opts to really control the weight to avoid putting “that extra stress on the body and grind on the joints.”

Split Squats with barbell

3 sets of 5 reps, 1 set of 4 reps, 1 set of 3 reps

Ertz’s split: 3 sets of 185 for 5 reps, 205 for 4 reps and 225 for 3 reps

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Ertz also uses split squats to help generate force from the ground. However, split squats allow him to also hone in on and build up his “single-leg explosion and single-leg strength,” according to the tight end.

“As a football player, you’re not always in a square phase,” Ertz said. “But you’re not always in that linear stance. So, it’s definitely a mixture of both.” The more Ertz can prepare for the unforeseen, the better.

Power Cleans

5 sets of 1 rep

Ertz’s split: 1 set, 1 rep of 225, 245, 265, 285, 315

Ertz’s relationship with power cleans dates back to when he was just 16-years-old, well before the Orange, California native went on to become an all-American at Stanford. For Ertz, power cleans simulate the quick switch between enduring contact and creating it.

With your hands outside of your legs, keep your back tight, lower your body and grab the barbell. Snatch it up off the ground and bring it under your chin, while shooting your elbows out. Now, drop the weight safely. “That’s just the foundation of explosive movement, making sure you’re able to absorb that force that you’re producing,” Ertz said of the exercise. “You’re creating the force and then absorbing it as well.”

Glute Bridges

Double-leg for 1 minute, Single-leg for 30 seconds each

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Tight ends have to make sure their hips are strong and flexible enough to handle the wear and tear of the NFL’s 16-game regular season — plus the playoffs, if they’re lucky. Ertz relies on double- and single-leg glute bridges to do just that.

“Glute bridges make sure my hips are staying in line,” he said. “Making sure that I’m not putting added stress on the hamstrings, hip flexors or groin. Being able to stabilize the hips is pretty much the center of playing football, so you can stay healthy.”

Ertz does this exercise by laying on his back on a bench, thrusting and raising his hips up into the air, while squeezing his glutes. He’ll start with both legs, then switch to isolated single-leg reps.

To add to the intensity of this exercise, incorporate a resistance band as shown in the video below:

Barbell Bench Press

4 sets of 6, 8, 10, 12 reps

Ertz’s split: 6 reps of 265, 8 reps of 225, 10 reps of 205, 12 reps of 185

At this point in his career, Ertz isn’t trying to set any world records on the bench press. Instead, he’s pressing for a variety of reps. The Pro Bowl tight end claimed that the bench press allows him to gain strength, while allowing him to simulate all the pushing that must be done during an NFL game.

“Bench press is just a typical lift to build strength in the upper body because I have to move these 300-pound monsters on Sunday… or at least try my best to,”he said. “Blocking, route- running, pretty much any upper-body movement, the bench press is going to be helpful.”


2 minutes

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Ertz does planks for two minutes to help maintain his core strength. Over time, he says he has found that they have benefits across the duration of a grueling 16-game season.

“Just making sure the core stays strong and endures the entire season,” Ertz said. “If it only endures for a week, it’s not going to do you much good. Those extended-period planks are crucial to maintaining that good core.”

Just be careful to maintain proper form by squeezing your glutes and keeping your spine straight and your hips up. The full period might be longer than you can hold without falling into a bad position — so try to hold for 2 minutes combined, if continuously proves to be too much of a challenge.

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