How the former NFL star stays in shape during retirement
Former New York Giants defensive lineman Michael Strahan spent 15 years chasing quarterbacks and tackling running backs, but since he retired (following the Giants win in Super Bowl XLII in 2008) he's had to adjust to a new life as a broadcaster with the FOX NFL Sunday crew. That means a whole new workout routine, a different meal plan, and a brand new idea of what being "fit" really means.
How beat up were you physically after Super Bowl XLII?
When I was in the Super Bowl I had problems with my back and I banged my right hip up pretty good. My shoulders were not 100%. I had achy knees and elbows to the point where when I first started working out with my trainer there would be certain exercises where I would say 'I'm not doing that, I can't do that.' Not that I didn't want to, I just felt like I couldn't because my body felt so beat up. Now I'm able to train and do whatever I need to do.
How do you train now that you're retired?
Not as heavy and not as much physical pounding on my joints. My squats and leg presses now use a lot more of my own body weight and focus on range of motion instead of brute strength.
What's the toughest thing you do in the gym these days? What moves do you hate doing?
I hate leg exercises. I hate one-legged squats. I hate the hurdles and the split squats. I hate all the leg exercises. I know they help me and I'm able to move around and don't have knee problems and my hip doesn't hurt anymore but when my trainer tells me I have to do them, I almost feel like my body goes into convulsions.
What would surprise people most about your new workout routine?
Probably the core stuff, like doing the one-leg ab crunch on the medicine ball. You're basically doing a push-up but your legs are up on the big rubber ball and then you take one leg off the ball and with the other one you bring your knee up to your chest. That's something that takes a lot of core strength.
Let's talk about your diet. What's a typical breakfast like for you?
I eat three egg whites and three slices of turkey bacon for breakfast. Now I eat more smaller meals instead of just gorging myself. As an athlete, you're brought up with that mentality that you finish everything you start. If you're going to start a meal, you're going to finish it until the plate is clean. I had to change that mentality to one of where, 'I eat until I'm full and leave the rest.'
Do you have any favorite protein shake recipes?
I'll take two scoops of protein, some flax seed oil, some glucosamine and chondroitin liquid for the joints, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, a little bit of oatmeal and every once in a while I'll throw a scoop of peanut butter in there too.
Do you miss training the way you used to train?
I miss the routine. There's something about the routine of a professional locker room. (Vikings TE) Visanthe Shiancoe was my workout partner every day. (Former Giants LT) Luke Petitgout used to workout with us everyday too. I miss joking around with the weight coaches. I miss when the rookies would come in and you knew what they were thinking because you were a rookie once too. I remember the first time I went into the locker room and saw Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor and how amazed I was. So when the rookies would come into the weight room and see you working out it's like, 'Hey, this isn't college anymore. You're out here now with a bunch of men and you have to step it up to compete.'
What's your ideal time to train?
If my schedule allows I prefer to workout in the afternoon. But with the kids I get it in when I can. A lot of times I go right after they go to school, so usually about 9 a.m. but sometimes it can be 7 p.m. And when I do FOX NFL Sunday I normally leave around 5:30 p.m. and I'll get to the gym by 6 p.m. and that'll give me an hour to workout before they close.
Do you miss the intensity of pro-level workouts?
Even though the weight I'm lifting isn't what it was when I was playing, it's not like I'm not lifting weights that are heavier than the common person would lift. I think a lot of people look at that and say 'whoa!'