No Huddle and Playing Lighter and Leaner: How Frame Size Factors In

No huddle offenses speed things up for both sides of the ball and like we have seen at the collegiate ranks, athletes end up playing a little lighter and leaner then usual.  And that is probably a good thing for the long-term health of an NFL athletes based on the statistics related to the toll the game can take on an athlete.  So the challenge is finding a weight that works relative to your frame.

Athletes who body build into mass over the top of their frame’s capacity to carry weight will lose weight very rapidly when they get injured or sick.  If your roster is littered with frame over-achievers the vulnerability of that roster will be greater when flu season comes and immune systems are stressed and the second half of the season starts to wear everyone down.Teams where athletes are for the most part playing at or below their frame ceiling will be less vulnerable to shed lean mass during stress challenges.  So for example in this picture from left to right, the body weight of these athletes who were all pretty much the same height varies from 185, 215, 285, 325 lbs.

The biggest factor that determines variance in weight carrying capacity of one frame to the next independent of height is trunk length.  It is why we monitor things like seated height to determine who is more trunk than legs and vice versa.  Add to that the robust characteristics of the trunk and you have more to factor in on weight carrying capacity. Long truck with deep chest, wide shoulders, pelvis and hips make for a frame that can carry more weight for their height.  So while most TE’s at the combine weigh about 255 lbs. at 14.5% body fat we could see a range here from 225 lbs. – 270 lbs.  When athletes are compressed towards the average for their position, light frames are vulnerable to test the waters with anabolic solutions and heavy frames to use stimulants to make the number.

Teams need to be more objective with the way they approach individualized weight carrying capacity based on frames and let the lighter frames play in lighter in space.  Even lean mass can become luggage in the heat, when playing at altitude and playing no huddle, especially when the lean mass is gained right before camp starts and is not conditioned for the metabolic demands of work in the heat.  Lean mass has to be added early in the offseason for athletes who have the frame to carry it so we have time to get that mass in shape late offseason to cope with the burn and cool itself efficiently.  That lean mass has to be efficient and that take some time after the size has been laid down.

Offseasons are short and have to be planned with care to ensure you are not making your move on lean mass too late in the offseason and that you were a candidate in the first place based on your frame.  And one last note on injuries in weight carrying joints that are chronic problems.  These rusty hinges in the load bearing kinetic chain will possibly cause you to play a bit lighter than your frame is capable of.  We see this in our veteran athletes where they are working around years of wear and tear and have to play lighter they when they entered the league.  In the next installment we will talk about nutrition strategies to keep those hinges oiled up and immune systems resilient to illness for the second half of the season.


By Dave Ellis, RD, CSCS

30 Year Veteran Sports RD -

Student of the game?  Follow Dave’s nutrition focused social media at or on Twitter @fuelingtactics

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