Q&A: David DeCastro

The Steelers' right guard gets in-depth about the evolution of his workout regimen, his skills, his O-line and his team.

David DeCastro, right guard, Pittsburgh Steelers

Q: I must have a few weightlifters in my readership because I've been getting requests to find out your offseason workout, your progress, your goals. Let's start there.

DD: You know, I think the weight room is one of those things that's great for development when you're younger, but as you get older you have to be a lot smarter with what you do. I was lucky. I had a really good strength coach in college. High school there's the stereotype that you're young and you throw up as much weight as you want. In college, you kind of learn that the more you do that the more it takes a toll on your body. In the NFL, that's magnified even more. (Garrett Giemont) Gie's great about it. For example, I used to balanced the bar on my chest when I benched. Now, I control it the whole time. Does that make sense? It's just little stuff like that where you're tweaking that. I'm not really worried about weight as much anymore. I'm not going to strain extremely hard to get that last rep. It sounds kind of counterintuitive but it's almost like a less-is-more approach where you're taking care of your body because what's more important is your body feeling fresh, if that makes sense.

Q: Well, it's a long season and you've been through a few of them.

DD: It's a l-o-o-o-n-g season. Once you've been through a season you kind of get it. The weight room's great but that's not football. It's totally different. Your body's going to adapt to what it's doing, so when you're playing football it's going to adapt. You're going to breakdown and you're not going to be able to hit near the numbers you were in the off-season. You're not. Your body's shot, you're tired, whatnot. You've got to be able to maintain, whether it's with massages, treatment, chiropractor. You kind of find things as you go and you learn to take from people. That's kind of what being the pro thing is called, because you can get away with it when you're younger. In college I hated massages. I was like, 'That's stupid. I don't need those,' because you don't when you're young.

Q: High school kids still need to lift to get those college scholarships.

DD: No, that's great in high school. You can beat your body. You want to do that in high school. That's fine. I'm just saying, as you get older you adapt. I lifted hard in college, too. Don't get me wrong. As I've gotten older -- 25 right? Not old -- but I'm not deterring anyone away from it in high school. You want to lift hard and whatnot. It just changes as you get older. You've got to adapt. Like you said, this game is hard enough during the season. You beat your body up. You can beat it up a good amount in the offseason, too, but you've got to be smart about it, too. You want to be feeling good. That's the key.

Q: The Stanford conditioning coach started this type of thinking for you?

DD: Yes. He was that. Gie's really good on it, too. For example, when we went to college my first summer, all freshmen, you don't even touch a weight. It's all body-weight stuff. You get all these kids that are all obsessed with squat and bench. That doesn't translate. Probably the most important thing is core, being able to control your body. It's a functional sport. A lot of people ask what I bench. You get that question, but it doesn't matter. Some guys in college couldn't bench or squat at all and they were better football players than the guys who could lift the house.

Q: Do you still squat?

DD: No, I don't squat anymore. I don't put anything on my back. My back's getting beat up enough stopping bull rushes out here. You don't need it. And that was weird because I squatted every day in college. I never missed. And a lot of times the mental block was 'If I'm not squatting, I'm not doing enough and I'm not going to be good enough on the field.' But it's not like that.

Q: Are you worried about getting stronger? Or are you maxed out?

DD: No, I still lift but you kind of get to the point where you kind of plateau and you do everything you can. Your body's feeling good and you kind of know where that's at. You know your body really well. It's your job to know your body. And then more than that I think diet is really important.

Q: What can you tell me about your diet?

DD: I'm not perfect, but I try to stay away, when I can, from processed foods. It's easier said than done but it's an easier way to do it. I try to stay away from breads and pasta. I'm not perfect by any means but you notice a real change, especially when you're getting older. Like in high school and college it's the same as weightlifting, you eat whatever you want and you can get away with it. But now if you can really take care of that it makes a big difference.

Q: Do you supplement at all?

DD: I used to do vitamins and all that stuff. I take a fish oil supplement and will take protein drinks after a workout. If lunch is ready I'll go eat lunch. Protein's just if lunch isn't ready or I'll be taking a break. Then I'll have a protein drink and wait an hour and go eat lunch. I always had a protein drink after lifting in high school because you have to drive home and wait a little bit. Right here it's so easy because the food's right here. Whatever works.

Q: All right, let's move on to the playing field. How do you feel about your progression in the NFL? How have you done and what are you looking to do?

DD: Just feel real comfortable here going into Year Four. It's crazy, everyone says 'Oh, it goes by fast,' and it really does. I'm just looking forward to getting better. That's the beauty of this game. Especially this league the minute you let off the gas you're getting beat. You look for edges to push yourself and motivate yourself. I just hope we can stay healthy like we did last year for the most part. We've got such an awesome group on offense, especially the offensive line.

Q: That was a beautiful thing. How do you duplicate that?

DD: There's not much to change. You just push a little harder. We're all pros here. Everyone's getting better. But there's a lot of luck involved too in staying healthy. You just hope and pray, whatever it takes to make sure it happens.

Q: Going back, your local hero as a young guy was Steve Hutchinson and you wear Alan Faneca's number. How do you feel you're stacking up to those guys?

DD: I've got a long way to go, I think, when you're chasing guys like that. I'll be able to look back in five years and re-hash it, but right now I'm worried about blocking a guy in OTAs. You know what I mean? You're never really aware of the big picture. You always want to get to that level, and it's always in the back of your head, but those guys are awesome. I would love to be there one day.

Q: Are OTAs a terrible thing for an offensive lineman, to be playing without pads?

DD: It's the worst, because you've got guys, D-linemen, who go hard and it's just awkward. There's nothing to grab onto. Like I'm going to push on you and you're trying to grab at their jerseys and stuff and there's nothing to hold onto. I know they tell us not to hold all the time but you kind of do it, with our hands inside. It's tough but we have 10 practices. It's not too bad.

Q: Plus you get kids who are starving for anything in the league and are going full blast in the spring.

DD: Yeah. There's a big difference sometimes in the playing tempo. Some guys are going extremely hard and others are just being smart. As long as no one gets hurt. That's the big concern.

Q: Are there any technical issues you're looking to improve?

DD: Like I said man, you're always getting better. It's a constant work in progress. You don't see anyone who's perfect.

Q: What have you improved upon the most in the last year or two?

DD: It's hard to be specific. I think maybe it's just more of a complete game, covering all areas. You get better at one thing, and the things you thought were easy you're now messing up. It's a constant cycle. It's like Whack-A-Mole. You push one down and something that was down pops back up. I had that and it pops up. So it's just a constant -- it's a funny game. That's the beauty of it. You can never be feeling entitled and happy with where you are because there will always be something popping up.

Q: I know you guys all loved Sean Kugler, but Mike Munchak has a great reputation. What has he done for you and the line?

DD: He's just a great coach. The thing with Munch -- obviously he's a Hall of Famer -- but he's so level-headed and so objective about things. He's not going to yell at you. He'll get mad here and there. He'll ask what happened. And a lot of times he knows you're more mad about it and him yelling is not going to help. I'm already mad enough myself if I get beat or mess something up. So he's going to talk through it. That's my favorite thing. He's a great coach. He's smart. He's made things a lot simpler. Now you just go out and play.

Q: You guys do a lot of power, a lot of zone. What's the next level? Is there a next level?

DD: I think that's enough, inside/outside zone, gap scheme, power or whatnot, those are the main entrees. It's just about getting better at what we already do. I thought we did some really good things there towards the end of the season last year. So just carry off on that.

Q: What were you guys doing better late last season?

DD: I thought the power scheme came along really well at the end of the season. I thought we were just playing really good team football, with the defense helping us out and giving us a chance to get that lead. It's always nice when you have the lead as an offensive lineman especially. You can just do whatever you want and have that control.

Q: That's bound to happen with time together and health, right?

DD: Yeah. Health is key. I mean we've been together a while. (Marcus) Gilbert and I hardly say anything to each other. We just know. I mean, it's a beautiful thing. (Maurkice) Pouncey obviously talks a lot, which is good. Yeah, it's awesome. I just hope we stay together as a group. It's a really good thing.


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