March 24, 2012

Warford drops 16 pounds in offseason

The season was over. The schedule was complete. But Larry Warford still had one opponent left to battle: the scale.

Offensive line coach Mike Summers asked the All-Southeastern Conference right guard to lose some weight in the offseason. After months of battling, Warford had lost 16 pounds. He weighed about 326 pounds as of Saturday, more than 30 pounds less than he did when he arrived as a freshman in 2009.

"I feel like I eat a Cheez-it and gain four pounds," he said.

For the most part, Warford dropped the weight through conventional means. He watched what he ate, limited his portions and added more fruits and vegetables to his diet. He didn't cut much of anything out completely, and most of his exercise came with the team's offseason program.

He did try one new thing: hot yoga. Warford went to a hot yoga session with former UK defensive end Jeremy Jarmon. Hot yoga is a strenuous form of yoga practiced in a room that is often over 100 degrees with 40 percent humidity.

"That hot yoga stuff, that was crazy," Warford said. "I barely made it through. I thought it was going to be easy. I've sat in a sauna before for a long time so I was like 'OK, it's going to be stretching in a sauna. How hard can it be?' It was terrible. I probably couldn't do it again if I tried. I'm actually surprised I sat in the room the whole time."

Warford cut out soda in December, something he'd never done before. He'd never enjoyed drinking water, but made that all he drank for a month. Most of the exercise he did was during the Wildcats' offseason program. He did all the sprints and running recommended by strength coach Rock Oliver.

He weighed 357 pounds when he first got to campus as a freshman. That's the heaviest he's ever been. The coaches immediately told him to lose weight, but it was a struggle.

Some football players have difficulty keeping weight on, especially during the season. For Warford, the trouble has always been taking the weight off. To make matters worse, the scale in Kentucky's locker room is close to Warford's locker. Almost every day, he hears about teammates who lose weight without even trying.

"I get mad," Warford said. "I see people getting on and weighing themselves and they're like, 'Oh, crap! I lost five pounds.' I can't wait for the day I can get mad about losing weight."

His daily diet is usually somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 calories. That's far more than the average person, but it could still be tough to fuel his 6-foot-3 frame. There's also the matter being around people who like to eat out frequently.

Warford remains close to Paul Warford, a former UK cornerback and his cousin. Paul Warford was listed at 206 pounds in his final year with the program.

"He always wants to go eat," Warford said. "He's one of those guys that never gains weight and he wants me to go with him when he goes out to eat. That was probably the hardest thing, saying no to him."

Losing 16 pounds is hardly noticeable for a player who started at close to 340 pounds, but the coaches have noticed a difference. He doesn't usually notice the difference until he puts the weight back on, Warford said.

Warford hopes he's not quite done losing weight. Ideally, he'd like to reach 320 pounds. That would be the lightest he's been since beginning college, and put him in a place to help make plays outside when asked to pull and block.

"You're not always going to be pushing on somebody in every single play," Warford said. "When you pull out there, you need to get to the second level and linebackers are fast. You need to get your weight down to run with those guys. On backside stretches, you're going to be running for that linebacker on the best angle you have. Being as light as you can without being too light is key."

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