Dick Hart: One of the Strongest Football Players

Submitted by Mr.Berg on Wed, 02/12/2020 - 09:49
dick hart football training

Dick Hart was named by Strength and Health magazine as one of the strongest football players in the NFL. Here's is his training routine published in S&H 1967 by Dick Landis - Mr. Berg
"Dick Hart is only 23 years of age, but his athletic feats could fill a book. He has packed a lot of achievement into his years, and the way it looks for the future he will provide even more sports excitement for himself and his admirers. Currently, Dick is a rookie member of the Philadelphia Eagles' "taxi Squad" The Philadelphia organization feels that Dick has performed well considering the fact that he was the only rookie to arrive at camp last summer without having played collegiate football. To fully realize the many accomplishment of Dick Hart, it is necessary to go back to his high school athletic experiences.

In the small town of Morrisville, located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the local high school turns out its share of good teams and has over the years produced some very outstanding athletes. Morrisville boys go on to make a goo account of themselves in college. In fact, Dick's two old brother - Lew and Bob- both made their presence felt in collegiate football. Lew co-captained the team at Bucknell University; Bob played guard at Penn State University. Dick, being the youngest brother, had much to live up to. Sports fans in any town particularly enjoy the excitement a "brother combination" can bring to local sports activities. The Hart Brother were no exception. Lew had achieved a reputation for being a tenacious lineman and county shot-put champion at Morrisville High School. Bob had followed as a crushing fullback and holder of the state high school shot-put championship. Dick followed, and he had the "Hart Tradition" to maintain; it would be no easy chore.

In high school Dick did everything and he did it well. A big boy, he was very well-coordinated and had exceptional speed. He starred three years in high school football - playing end his sophomore year and then switching to fullback his junior and senior years. His honors in football included: first team selection on the all-county team his three years of high school,; an honorable mention candidate on the All-American high school football team his senior year. Dick received the highest award the local area can give to an athlete in this senior year - "Player of the Year in Buck County."

Winter came and Dick too to basketball - playing his sophomore year only. He did not play basketball his junior and senior years in order that he might concentrate his efforts on shot putting and weight training. In basketball, however, he did earn second team all-county honors averaging 18 points per game during that one season of participation. Spring rolled around and Dick could be found both on the baseball diamond and the track. At baseball, he displayed power hitting ability.

Standing 6'2 1/2" and ranging in weight from 210 his sophomore year to 247 his senior year, he made an excellent catcher. And, Dick was well schooled in baseball, because after all he had played on a world championship little league team. That's right, Morrisville (pop. 7,000) had won the World Championship at Williamsport, Pa. in 1955; Dick played catcher on the team. Now in high school he was torn between two spring sports. In a small high school such as Morrisville, boys often play two spring sports. So, Dick played baseball and was selected as an all-county catcher. Although his baseball prowess was something to behold, he was also in the process of establishing some pretty prodigious shot-put records, which still stand.

Aside from setting a county shot-put record at 64' 2 1/2" his senior year, Dick had his sights set on the state championship. During his sophomore years a teammate - Jim Tanzillo - had beaten Dick at the state meet. This, in itself, was a rarity in that Bob Hart had been a state shot-put champion, followed by Tanzillo, and lastly Dick was to take the title his junior and senior years. During his high school athletic career he trained at Jim Murray's Varsity Barbell Club in Morrisville. In the Winter of his senior year he military pressed 275 at a bodyweight of 240. He was spurred on to 275 by the fat that Dallas Long had pressed the same weight at the ae of 17. Dick admired Long's shot putting ability and he therefore wanted to emulate some of Dallas Long's weight training feats.

His workouts consisted of pressing of all types. Preferably, he performed the military press, incline dumbbell press, and the alternate dumbbell press. Dick would take a fairly heavy pair of dumbbells and either seated or standing would proceed to "fire" his arms up and down in an alternating manner. He also combined full squats with power cleans to build explosive strength in his legs and back. Occasionally he used variations of the aforementioned, but he always returned to his "Big Three" - the press, squat and power clean.

You can imagine the recruiting that resulted during Dick's senior year. Numerous schools offered him scholarships. He was sought both for his football and track abilities. Add to all this the interest of major league baseball clubs and you have a resultant tough decision to make on the part of a young man. What does one do in such situations? One coach who was interested in Dick was Joe Kuharick. Joe was coaching at Notre Dame and Dick was seriously considering making that school his choice, but fate was to separate Joe Kuharick and Dick Hart for another five years. When the smoke cleared on graduation night, Dick signed with the Milwaukee Braves (now Atlanta) Baseball Organization. He was to spend the next four years travelling around the Minor Leagues. He was good; he displayed his talent for baseball. In the 1963 season - playing for Boise Idaho in the Pioneer League - Dick hit 28 home runs and batted in 117 runs. During his four years of baseball Dick averaged 23 home runs per year. But when it was all said and done he became disenchanted with baseball. In august of 1965 he came home - finished with organized baseball.

The thought of playing professional sports still interested him. There are not too many athletes who can excel at one sport and then turn around and achieve excellence in another at the professional level. As fall 1965 arrived Dick was taken with "football fever." So, he rolled out the weights. He realized that he had some bulking-up to do if he wanted to impress the pro clubs.

His gains were phenomenal to say the least. Dick's bodyweight jumped from 225 to 274 by March of 1966. One of his pet feats became the seated one-arm dumbbell press with a 137-pound dumbbell. He would perform 5 reps with each arm. He turned to cleans and heavy squats. Without moving his feet he could power clean 300 pounds. Once during the winter, Dick came to this writer's house and loaded on all the Olympic plates, plus those plates borrowed from a neighbor, until there was no room left on the bar, and he proceeded to squat.

It was during his winter training program that he contacted his old friend Joe Kuharick, who is now head coach of Philadelphia Eagles. Joe remembered Dick's football feats and as a result signed Dick to a free-agent contract. By the time training camp opened in July 1966, Dick Hart was as ready as he possibly could be. His ability to survive every cut would depend on his superior strength and fine speed.

And, while he was surviving a physical beating he would have to cram an enormous amount of football knowledge into his head in a very short period of time. As September,  1966 approached, Dick found himself on the taxi squad. He is proud of his effort. He loves the game and some observers feel he definitely has the "stuff" to make it as a regular next year.

The following exercises describe Dick Hart's training routine. He is quick to point out that the power work outlined will benefit the field participant in track as well as the football player.

Winter Training (based on three workouts per week)

dick hart training football

1. Seated Dumbbell Press - (alternate) 4 sets 10 reps. Or, Seated One-Arm Dumbbell Press - 3 sets 5 reps, 3 sets 3 reps

2. Bench Press - 5-5-4-3-2-2 five singles. Use a different weight each set until a fairly heavy weight is reached for five single attempts.

3. Power Cleans - 3-2-2 eight singles. Same procedure as outlined above under bench press

4. High Pulls - pull to chest height a weight that is too heavy to clean. A warm up followed by a series of singles in recommended.

5. Squats - 5-3-3-2-2-2-six singles. The squats are used in place of the high pulls on alternating workouts.

6. Dead Lifts - Practiced once per week. Once again a warm-up followed by a series of singles is recommended

Spring Training
1. Dick states that at this point (May) he cut back on the number of exercises and began to run - light jogging

2. He still used pressing exercises and cleans, but as his "wind" improved he began running quarters and sprints.

3. Sprinting is Dick's favorite. He does very short sprints, setting himself in a line stance and then charging forward some 10 to 15 yards. He quickly turns around, gets set again in the stance an sprints back to the original starting position. Again he turns around, gets down and charges back. He does 10 or 12 of these short, fast sprints at a time.

4. During his running workouts, he also will run a pretty fast quarter, jog a quarter, run a quarter, until he has accomplished four fast quarters with four easy quarters in between. Occasionally he will throw in a few 100 yard dashed for time.

5. It is also important to mention that right through the actual football season, Dick still does heavy cleans once per week. He mentions that aside from football the shot putter should also practice cleans during the track season, at least twice per week."