KIRKLAND, Wash. – Spending time in the weight room can be a necessary evil for most NFL players, but two starters on the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive line see it from a different perspective.
There’s no place this duo would rather be.
Center Chris Spencer and left guard Rob Sims count weightlifting as one of their favorite pastimes, and the results have carried over to the football field.
“Especially on double teams, when it’s me and him, there aren’t that many people who can get through there,” Sims said. “It’s been pretty cool playing with a guy like that.”
Sims and Spencer combined to blow 300-pound Cincinnati defensive tackle John Thornton into the secondary during a Shaun Alexander run in the first half of Sunday’s game. Later in the game, they each pushed their defenders five yards off the ball on Alexander’s longest run, a 22-yarder.
“They’re not just big, strong meathead guys – they’re also powerful,” Seahawks strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark said. “They can’t just move weights slow. They can move a decent amount of weight, and they can move it fast.”
They actually enjoy moving weights, giving the Seahawks one of the strongest inside tandems of any line in football.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Sims, who has lifted 515 pounds on the bench press. “We push a lot of guys around out there. I hope to be doing that for a long time.”
Spencer was an accomplished lifter while growing up in Mississippi, setting two power-lifting records during his days at Madison Central High School. Sims doesn’t have quite the pedigree, but he’s just as dedicated in the weight room.
Both Sims and Spencer did 30 repetitions at 225 pounds during their respective combines for NFL scouts – Spencer in 2005, and Sims the following year. Even more impressive is the fact that both players have lifted more than 500 pounds in the bench press at one time or another.
Their combined total of 1,015 pounds in the bench press is more weight than the mass of the entire defensive line the Seahawks will face this weekend. San Francisco’s starting trio carries a combined 931 pounds on their bodies.
Spencer’s best bench press of 500 pounds helped him set the Mississippi state record in an event that combines the bench, squat and deadlift. He lifted a total of 1,665 pounds as a high school junior, then beat his own age-group record by lifting 1,675 the following year. He also set a state record by lifting 700 pounds in the squat.
Spencer, whose listed body weight is 312 pounds, said that his days as a competitive weight lifter paved the way for his future in the NFL.
“It’s a tremendous help,” he said. “It gives you that base, and once you’ve got that base all you have to do is maintain it. That’s what it’s all about now: maintaining it.”
Lately, Spencer hasn’t been throwing much weight on anything. After undergoing minor surgery on both shoulders in January, he’s been relegated to doing more repetitions at lower weights.