…destination is the home-gym to a variety of folks with interesting stories to tell, and that includes Offensive Line Scouting & Development Consultant and elite-level powerlifter Duke Manyweather. We sat down with Duke recently to get some insight into who he is and the interesting path of his life and profession.
…destination: For folks that aren’t familiar with you, can you give a brief overview of your athletic background?
Duke: I played football in college for Humboldt State and played for a stint in the Arena Football League. During that time, I developed a passion for training, lifting, and working out. When you stop competing at a high-level in terms of football, you try to find that competitive edge somewhere else. It took me a while, but I ended up finding it in powerlifting. I’m part of the USPA in the 275lb weight class. I trained as a powerlifter for about five or six years before competing. I’ve now been competing for the past three years. I started with push/pull meets before going full power. I’d say my best lift is deadlift. I’ve pulled 705lbs in a meet.
…destination: And what is your profession now?
Duke: I am an offensive line scouting and development consultant. It’s a niche. It’s allowed me to combine everything I’ve done as an athlete and coach into one world. I was a strength and conditioning coach at one point at Humboldt University and College of the Redwoods, as well as being an offensive line position coach. I also have a natural eye for scouting and evaluating talent. I evaluate the factors of the position for recruitment. I then take it a step further, because now I’m able to look at these players and implement a plan for development based on what I know about the body, kinesiology, strength, and conditioning. When I see deficiencies or problems in these players, I know how to fix them. Whether that be in the weight room, or on the field. It’s been an interesting path.
…destination: What would you say your training philosophy and style is?
Duke: My overall philosophy regarding training is that it needs to be tailored to the individual needs of the athlete. I use a little bit of everything. There is definitely some Westside Barbell cognitive-type of training in there.
When you train with me, we’re going to have a dynamic effort day moving fast followed by a max effort day, like on the football field. I try to put the body through various angles and motions that you’re going to see on the field as an offensive lineman: partial range of motion, full-range of motion. The goal is to replicate what they do. I want to try to ingrain in my athletes the movement patterns that they’re going to use as offensive linemen. It’s a scientific approach, but it’s not rocket science when you know what you’re doing.
…destination: How does that break down in terms of, say, skills work vs. strength work?
Duke: I get messages all the time from players, or even coaches, saying ‘hey, what’s a drill I can do to get better at X, Y and Z?’ I’m a firm believer that the drills you put players through need to show up on the field to make sense. There also needs to be a sense of readiness in the strength and mobility aspect to be able to do the things you need to do on the field. Strength is the basis of every athletic movement, and mobility comes second. You need to stay strong while also maintaining your mobility. It all starts with strengthening the basics. If you make strength and mobility your focus, you’ll then be able to transfer those skills to run faster and jump higher.
I’m not a big fan of saying ‘just do these drills and you’ll be fine.’ For example, an o-lineman needs to be able to do a good lunge. Once they can, then you add holds and then weight. Guys need to do a bodyweight squat and isometric hold before we move them into weights, etc. It’s a progression. I put athletes through each step until they get to an elite level. That being said, I feel like it all starts with strength as the basis.
…destination: How long do you work with your clients? Is it mostly in the offseason, or are there ongoing relationships?
Duke: There are some ongoing relationships where I’m on retainer, so during the season. For the most part, it’s the spring where I do 3-4 weeks, or in the summer where its 4-5 weeks.
…destination: What is your favorite part about working with football players, and offensive linemen in particular?
Duke: Offensive line is the most thankless job, but it’s so necessary. Playing the position has taught me so much about doing the small things in order to allow others to shine. O-linemen have a strong work ethic, and that position has dictated that they need to be diligent and hard-working. Playing the position, then coaching the position, and now developing the position… it’s been something special for me.
…destination: What type of training do you do with o-linemen that non-football players might also be able to incorporate into their own training?
Duke: Great question. I work with guys that are 230lbs up to 330lbs. Running and pounding pavement isn’t always ideal for guys like that, and their joints. What I try to do is a bunch of concentric sled work to condition them. We’ll do three days a week with some type of sled work. A dynamic effort day, a max effort day, and a distance day. Its better on the joints, recovery is amazing, and it’s great for your strength. You get more bang for your buck.
…destination: How did you end up training at …destination?
Duke: I moved to Texas in September 2015, and I was living in Irving. I started doing some research for the best gyms in the area and …destination kept popping up. When I walked in, I knew that was the place to be. They had everything I needed for powerlifting and for my work. They gave me a warm welcome and treated me like family right away. There’s great leadership, great management, and everybody there is genuine. I feel very fortunate that I can not only train there but also bring in pro athletes that are trusting me with their careers.
…destination: Can you describe the atmosphere at …destination and why you like it?
Duke: The atmosphere is pretty special. No matter if you’re a pro bodybuilder or physique or model, athlete, elite powerlifter, etc., or just somebody that’s coming in to try and better themselves, everybody is serious about what they do there. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mailman or a mom with three kids, everybody is there to work, get better, and make each other better. It’s a family. You’d think it would be intimidating with the caliber of some of the athletes that train there, but it’s not. Nobody puts anybody down, people are always asking questions, helping each other out, and bringing each other up.
…destination: Let’s do a few rapid-fire questions. Just say whatever comes to mind first.
Burgers or pizza? Burgers (no bun, triple meat)
Puppies or kittens? Dogs
Beaches or mountains? Beaches
Mini golf or real golf? Mini golf
Chuck Norris or Steven Segal? Chuck Norris, the posse of one.
Favorite country south of the equator? Costa Rica
Favorite band? Metallica
Favorite movie? Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (the original version)
Favorite gym? …destination Dallas, baby!