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Steelers' Hood goes to extremes to add muscle

| Friday, June 8, 2012, 12:30 a.m.
Steelers defensive lineman Ziggy Hood during OTAs on the South Side June, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Steelers defensive lineman Ziggy Hood during OTAs on the South Side June, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Steelers defensive lineman Ziggy Hood during OTAs on the South Side June, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Steelers defensive lineman Ziggy Hood during OTAs on the South Side June, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Steelers defensive lineman Ziggy Hood during OTAs on the South Side June, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Steelers defensive lineman Ziggy Hood during OTAs on the South Side June, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

Ziggy Hood spent the early part of this offseason watching every one of the 833 snaps he played last season.

For the most part, he didn't like what he saw.

Hood, the Steelers' 2009 first-round pick, realized he was slow off the ball, and it was too easy to knock him off his feet.

Considering Hood said he was “feeling sluggish” and not “in tip-top shape” during the season, he knew it was time for a change.

“What better way to help my speed and help my agility but to lose body fat?” Hood said. “I play better when I feel good. When I don't feel good, I don't do as well as I want, and I didn't feel good all the time last year.”

Hood called on the help of Bill Nichol, founder of Outer Limit Athletic Performance in Valencia.

With the recent birth of his second son, Hood wasn't able to travel to his typical offseason workout venue in Atlanta. Hood needed a closer alternative and recalled a pamphlet he came for Outer Limit.

“They wore me out,” said Hood, a self-proclaimed workout warrior. “And I loved it.”

Hood saw immediate results and drastically changed his body composition.

In a four-week span in early March (during Phase I), Hood lowered his body fat from 24 to 18 percent. He lost 18 pounds of fat and gained 20 pounds of muscle, going from 305 pounds to 307.

“I felt a big difference and feel great right now,” Hood said. “You feel good, you play good. You can always improve, and that was one area I would like to improve on, and that's what I have been doing.”

Even though his workouts have dipped from five days a week during offseason practices, Phase 4 of Hood's training will start at the end of the month and last until training camp. He plans to arrive at St. Vincent looking more like a linebacker than a defensive end.

“All that big and looking sloppy, that's out the window,” Hood said. “We are sexy now.”

Hood has become a YouTube sensation, of sorts, with his training. Video of him jumping on top of a 50-inch box from a seated position has more than 6,000 hits in two weeks.

Although he insists he isn't interested in heavy lifting anymore — instead he's focused on speed and technique — there are videos of Hood deadlifting 700 pounds and pulling a 1,200-pound sled 28 yards.

“You can be big and lean and still do your job correctly,” Hood said. “That's what I am trying to do here.”

Hood has contributed since his rookie year. He has started 16 games over the past two years, but he also had Aaron Smith as a safety net.

With Smith gone, the left defensive end spot is his.

“I feel like I took the right steps in learning while he was here,” Hood said. “But now, it is time for me to step up and do my job.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mkaboly@tribweb.com.

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