Sports Magazine

Lesson Learned

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
Lesson Learned Steve McLendon
Jim Wexell
Lesson Learned
Steve McLendon lost his strength last year by overtraining in the summer months. The Steelers' nose tackle won't make that mistake again.
Steve McLendon stood on the sideline between the two new giants of the Steelers' defensive line, Daniel McCullers and Cam Thomas, and for the first time looked like a nose tackle.
Accused by some of being a defensive end because of his tall, 6-4 frame, McLendon up close shows off a moon face and round body that makes him look a lot more like Casey Hampton than at any time in the past.
And McLendon couldn't be happier.
"I feel a whole lot better," he said. "I'm at 330."
McLendon said he was actually a bit heavier at this time last year. He said he weighed 335, but he ended up at 308 before the start of the season due to a maniacal summer of training. And he believes that hurt him.
Experts call it overtraining.
"Trying to get ready to play multiple positions last year, I wanted to be in the best shape possible," he said. "I knew the way I lost the weight probably wasn't the healthiest way, just running and running it off. I felt I ran myself into the ground because of just being nervous about being a starter and all the new things that come with it. Once I talked to all my mentors outside of football, they were like 'Man, it's something you've been doing all your life. Don't change up your habits and your routine. If you gain five to 10 pounds of muscle every year, take it.' They said that was the craziest thing I could've done."
Of course, McLendon took over the Steelers' nose tackle position from the great Hampton last season. From the 335 at spring drills, McLendon got down to 313 for training camp by running "legit three times" a day. One of those runs was the team's conditioning test.
"So by the time we came back here for our conditioning test, I killed it," he said. "I would run 100 down and 60-65 back. I wasn't tired, but it took a toll on me when the hitting and pounding started. That's when I started feeling it."
During camp, McLendon lost another five pounds. So he was in great shape, but ...
"I lost my strength," he said. "I could move quick, but I couldn't hold those guys off the linebackers, and that's what we're known for."
And then McLendon, with his new body, pulled a hamstring in the opener. He struggled with that for a month, struggled with his loss of power, and then later in the season struggled with a sprained ankle.
But he's back, stronger, heavier and rounder than ever.
"I feel much stronger and so much more powerful. And I feel fast with it," he said of the extra weight. "At the end of last season, I was like, 'Man, I gotta get back to the stuff I was doing.' So I started back doing everything. And I feel better, man. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to see another year, especially doing something that we all love. Guys could be anywhere. I could be anywhere. But I got me here and I'm so thankful for it. I'm thankful for the day. Very thankful."

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