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Football Star Deebo Samuel on the Delicate Balancing Act of Training for Strength and Speed

Last year’s breakout player talks run conditioning, eccentric training, and how his new son fueled a stellar 2021 season.

Tyshun "Deebo" Samuel on Tonal

Tyshun “Deebo” Samuel proved to be one of the most versatile players in football last season, terrorizing teams with 1,405 receiving yards and tacking on another 365 rushing yards. He may have even invented a new position he called “wide-back,” a wide receiver that doubles as a running back. There’s only one way that happens: Samuel is explosive. He can run around defenders, force missed tackles, or simply lower his shoulder and plow right through them. 

“My body is built differently than a lot of people,” Samuel said flatly in an exclusive interview with Tonal. He made his point this season. There aren’t many players that can do what Samuel does, and his strategy, he said, is carefully training for both strength and speed. “I’m not trying to get any bigger,” he said, admitting that the balancing act is a challenge. 

That’s why he incorporates traditional track drills plus a lot of running and conditioning into his routine. He also knows you can’t get faster or stronger without a healthy range of motion. “I work on flexibility and mobility a lot,” he added. 

Tyshun "Deebo" Samuel on Tonal

As far as building strength goes, Samuel knows the value of eccentric training, which focuses on tension being applied to a muscle as it lengthens. In other words, you add weight on the lowering phase of exercises. So if you are throwing down a set of squats, for example, you would add weight as you send your hips back and down and remove the weight as you stand up. It’s a super-effective training modality according to research that shows it can boost your strength, power, and speed and even vertical skills

Eccentric training is hard to accomplish in a traditional gym, which is why Samuel was so impressed with Eccentric Mode on Tonal. “One thing I actually like is that you can do eccentric workouts on Tonal—it’s not consistent weight,” he said, adding that he thinks Tonal is “way better” than other machines he’s used in a gym.

Efficiency during workouts is a major benefit for Samuel, who has to fit a lot of specialized training into each session. That approach shifts slightly during the off-season, when you can find Samuel maintaining his conditioning but also adding yoga, acupuncture, and compression therapy boots. Samuel is also hyper-focused on what he eats to fuel his performance and prevent injury. He steers clear of red meat while loading up on vegetables, especially mushrooms and broccoli. “If you’re not eating right, that can really cause soft tissue injuries,” he said. 

The results are obvious. The multi-purpose playmaker is so dynamic that San Francisco has essentially constructed its offense to find various ways to get him the ball. But it’s not just work in the gym and nutrition that led Samuel to a standout season. 

The third-year pro credits his success, in part, to the birth of his son, Tyshun Raequan Samuel Jr. who was born on December 27, 2021. The new father thinks his newborn bestowed upon him super-dad powers. “I give the credit for the season to him,” he said with a mega-watt smile. “When I found out I had a child on the way, it was just like, all right, all the joking went out the window. My coaches said the same thing, I started to play totally different from December until the end of the season. It’s just motivation.”

Tyshun "Deebo" Samuel on Tonal

He admitted he’s hit a few mental walls in his short career, stemming from repeated foot and ankle injuries that cost him the majority of his second professional season. But he said the support of his team and family and an intentional focus on centering joy in his life has kept him grounded.  

“Growing up, a lot of people want to be where I’m at, so it’s just a blessing,” Samuel said. “This is the most exciting point of playing football, being a professional. This is what people dream about, so why go out there and be uptight? You should enjoy it. Win, lose or draw, it’s still love for the game.”

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