Ohio State football’s ‘Valentine’s Day Massacre’ workout: What it is and why it’s so tough – cleveland.com

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Woody Hayes Athletic Center will be a place of love on Friday morning. Ohio State football players will be greeted with rose petals, heartfelt messages posted on the walls, maybe a little music.

Wait, is that Anthony Schlegel with a chainsaw?

No. That was last year when Schlegel — the former Buckeye and then an assistant strength coach — wielded a chainsaw and put on a Jason mask from the “Friday the 13th” movies.

“Obviously without the chain,” senior guard Pat Elflein said.


Schlegel really got into the spirit of the annual “Valentine’s Day Massacre” workout, part of Ohio State’s winter conditioning program. The Buckeyes will endure another such workout on Friday morning. No, your calendar isn’t wrong. Ohio State is just holding the Valentine’s Day workout a few days late.

Maybe you saw some Buckeyes tweeting about the “massacre” on Thursday night. More will tweet about it on Friday morning once the 6 a.m. workout is over.

Those tweets will look something like these from last year:

It’s the most grueling workout of the year, though head strength coach Mickey Marotti stopped short of calling it a “massacre” when he met with the media on Wednesday.

“No, it’s just St. Valentine’s Day … workout. That’s what it’s called,” Marotti said. “Little heart candies and all that.”

Except not exactly.

The most demanding workout of Marotti’s winter regimen is far from a love fest. It’s a real test of the Buckeyes will, and that’s by design. So if you’re wondering what all of the fuss is about once the players start tweeting about it on Friday, here’s how Elflein broke it down:

What makes it so taxing on the body is the way the staff switches up the workouts. The Buckeyes have drills they call “finishers”, something performed at the end of a workout and meant to work a player to exhaustion one last time.

Those finishers include things like running on a high resistance treadmill at top speed for a few seconds, stepping off for a few seconds, then getting back on. Or it can be slamming a heavy bag to the ground, then punching it several times. It’s meant to be physically draining, and the final thing a player does before the workout is over.

But not during the Valentine’s Day workout.

Those finishers are performed in between exercises. For example, a player might do a set of squats, then a finisher. Then he’ll do a set of deadlifts, and then another finisher … and so on. Oh, and then he’ll still do the finishers again as you normally would after the entire workout is completed.

“The finisher is supposed to blow you out completely,” Elflein said. “Now you’re getting blown out in the middle of the workout.”

All of this happens while a DJ in the weight room blares music. There’s a festive element to it, believe it or not.

“They’ll put ‘we love to squat’ or ‘we love to deadlift’ on the walls, put rose petals everywhere and then they’ll beat you down,” Elflein said. “It’s nuts but they make it fun.”


For a normal person it sounds miserable.

At least for people like Elflein, it’s fun. He enjoys the mental tug of war that comes with winter workouts.

“They put you in these uncomfortable situations to see how you respond,” Elflein said. “The whole offseason is a mental game. They’re trying to mess with your mind, and it’s tough.”

And Elflein wasn’t the only Buckeye looking forward to it.