UCLA’s Atonio Mafi 2023 NFL draft diary: Inside exercises

As offensive lineman Atonio Mafi transitions from UCLA to the NFL, he’s sharing his journey with Times workers author Ben Bolch by means of a weekly diary main as much as the draft April 27. This week, Mafi discusses his coaching routine.

Sometimes there’s not a lot you are able to do about it.

No matter how lengthy I soak within the chilly tub or use the froth curler, my decrease again and hamstrings are going to be stiff. That’s simply a part of the deal. I’m coaching six days every week for the NFL draft. Body elements are going to be sore.

The vital factor is managing the discomfort and ensuring I can preserve coaching with out tearing a muscle. That’s why I take advantage of the curler on my physique once I get again to my room on the resort the place I’m staying in Pensacola Beach, Fla. The worst factor that would occur is I neglect to make use of the curler and get up with cramps.

All this operating is difficult. We did a number of conditioning work at UCLA however by no means ran the 40-yard sprint or did a lot sprinting. At the Exos facility, we’re not simply operating but additionally specializing in so many alternative elements of it — getting off to the quickest begin, sustaining kind at prime velocity and ending sturdy.

As an offensive lineman, my time within the 40 isn’t as vital because the break up for the primary 10 yards, which exhibits how briskly you may drive off the road and get to your prime velocity in house.

Atonio Mafi stretches throughout a pre-NFL draft exercise in Florida.

(Courtesy of Exos Sports)

Running is only a small a part of my coaching. Days begin at round 6 a.m. with just a few quiet moments in mattress. As I lay there, I be certain that I’m in the correct headspace. I take into consideration how that is one other day nearer to the draft, so I want to ensure I’m getting higher.

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By 7, I’m on the facility grabbing breakfast — I obtained my first style of grits, which don’t have a lot style except you drown them in butter and salt — and on the point of get on the sector. We begin with the emphasis of the day, like sustaining kind in the course of the second half of the 40-yard sprint.

Around 9:30, we change to our offensive line work with Willie Anderson, the previous Cincinnati Bengals left deal with. He’s been superior. He exhibits us correct method and kind with hand placement and getting beneath guys for leverage. I really like how he treats us as friends versus speaking to us as school youngsters.

I’m understanding with a bunch of seven offensive linemen, most from the Big Ten and Southeastern conferences. My roommate, former Penn State middle Juice Scruggs, teases me about by no means having seen snow, a lot much less taking part in in it. He cracked up once I talked about our coldest recreation being at Stanford when it was like 50 levels. They tried to maintain us heat that day by giving us hen soup on the sideline.

Juice gave me a tip for once I lastly face a kind of blizzards in New England or Green Pay. Are you prepared? One phrase: Vaseline. Rubbing it all around the uncovered elements of your physique is meant that can assist you retain warmth. Sounds bizarre, I do know, however I’m going to offer it a shot.

Staying heat isn’t an issue in our coaching. I’m prepared for a break by the point we get lunch round 11. Thankfully, I don’t have to fret about what I eat now that my weight isn’t the problem it was at UCLA once I shed greater than 70 kilos. I’m 335 now, just about at my goal weight after having dropped 5 kilos for the reason that Sun Bowl in late December.

Former UCLA lineman Atonio Mafi runs during a pre-NFL draft workout in Florida.

Former UCLA lineman Atonio Mafi runs throughout a pre-NFL draft exercise in Florida.

(Courtesy of Exos Sports)

Knowing that I’m going to play guard or middle on the subsequent degree, I don’t need to get any decrease than 330. Everything we eat — proteins, carbs and fruits — is portioned by the servers, eliminating the chance that I overdo it. The meals is sweet, however it could possibly’t evaluate to what we had on the Wasserman Center on campus. Man, I miss the scallops with lemon butter and cheese.

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After lunch, we hit our raise. I can squat 616 kilos, lifeless raise 550 and bench press just a few reps of 405. Those numbers are much like what everybody else is doing. We encourage one another nevertheless it’s additionally aggressive. If another person throws on an additional plate, it pushes me to do the identical.

The day ends with chilly tub and sauna remedy. It’s all about restoration, making an attempt to ensure we are able to get our our bodies proper for the subsequent day. We additionally get massages on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Sundays are chill. I’ll binge watch “NCIS” — I’ve made it by means of 12 seasons — or take a leisurely stroll across the close by mall to go garments buying. The resort we keep at is sweet, so I additionally like hitting the new tub.

You’ve obtained to loosen up at any time when you may. Another day of sore muscle tissue isn’t distant.