Over his 20-year NFL career, which included three Super Bowl titles, Jerry Rice established himself as the greatest wide receiver to ever play the game. The Hall of Famer is the only receiver in NFL history to eclipse 20,000 career receiving yards, and also holds the record for most career touchdowns at 197. During the strike-shortened season of 1987, Rice caught a then-NFL record 22 touchdowns in just 12 games. Rice became a legend on the field, but also became famous for his intense offseason workouts. Today, Rice maintains a physical lifestyle and healthy diet, hoping to set a good example for the younger generation. Rice recently spoke with NFL Up! about his weekly workout routine and offered some tips to NFL fans who are looking to stay fit.
Your workout routines are legendary, especially your uphills runs. How does your routine now differ from when you were a player?
JR: I really don't think there's much of a difference because I'm still aggressive. I like to do a lot of things--a variety--because I just feel if you do the same thing over and over, your body is going to adjust to that and it's not going to work as much. The one thing now is I do a lot of CrossFit, and that's a combination of lifting, like push press, kettlebells, medicine balls, box jumps and explosive stuff. Also in between I get some running in, like running the 400 (meter), running the 200, 800 or something like that. I'm still getting the cardio, but I'm also getting the fitness that I need.
Have your nutrition habits changed at all?
JR: No. I think back in the day that was very important to me, what I put in my body. I felt that you had to be like a machine, and you had to be able to fuel that machine with the right foods. Just eating a lot of veggies, staying away from the bread and having a lot of meat. I like baked chicken, stuff like that, and fish. Just putting the right food in the body where you can go out there and you have the energy where you can excel on the football field. I wanted to be one of those guys to not get heavy.
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I'll be honest with you, a lot of football players, after they step away from the game, they put on a lot of weight, and I just told myself I wasn't going to be one of those guys where people look at me and say, "Well, did you really actually play football?" So I decided to stick to my regimen. I feel it's very important in my life, the way I take care of my body. I want to be the perfect role model for kids and let them know that they need to get outside and get away from those computers and those games and be active for a couple of hours, and stuff like that. Just doing some positive things.
You said players tend to gain a lot of weight once they retire. What advice would you give a retiring player who has had trainers and weight rooms at his disposal throughout his career?
"I want to be the perfect role model for kids and let them know that they need to get outside and get away from those computers."
-- Jerry Rice
JR: I think the thing is to just stick to what you've been doing all your life. You're doing something good for yourself, and something that has to do with your health. And hopefully, it will give you longevity for a long, long time--where you live for a long, long time. So I don't see why you wouldn't stay more active because this is something that you've been doing your entire career ever since you were in high school and college and also the pros. So why not continue it and set the right example for younger kids and let them know that it's important to be active every day and watch what you put in your body? There's a lot of obesity now in kids because kids are not watching what they eat and they're not as active. I look at us as role models, and if I can inspire those kids to do the right thing and eat healthy and be active and stuff like that, I feel like I have done my job.
Is there any advice you would give young wide receivers coming into the league in terms of fitness?
JR: I think it's very important to get on a training regimen, and watch the veterans and watch what they do and how they approach the game. And also, when you're at the facility, you're just one big happy family. You have breakfast, you have lunch, you have all those things together. Watch those veterans and see what they do on the football field and where they're able to be successful in the arena. So that's what I did when I first came [to San Francisco]. I was a young guy, and I just latched on to Dwight Clark, Freddie Solomon, and I let those guys lead me and show me how to be a professional, and I think I did okay.
Can you walk us a bit through your weekly workout routine?
JR: Well, what CrossFit is, it's such an endurance thing that if I work one day, I'm taking the next day off, giving my body time to recoup. And I've developed so many different routines. The thing, too, with CrossFit is that it might take 10 minutes, or it might take 15 or 20 minutes. It's not time consuming. You go, you hit it, you get it in and you're done. Then you have the rest of the day to do what you want. You don't have to go to the gym and spend two hours in the gym. Depending on how much time you spend on cardio in the gym (maybe 30 minutes), you might spend like three or four hours in the gym. You don't need that with CrossFit. You can get everything in in about 20 minutes. It's all about giving the body time to recoup, and then you hit it again the next day. I like to change the routines up with the kettlebell, medicine ball, box jumps, the burpees and the jump rope. There's so many things you can do, and a combination of things that you can put together, where it's going to challenge you and give you a great workout.
Is there a good exercise the average NFL fan can do right in their own home to stay fit?
JR: My thing is running. You can go out for a jog or something like that, which was something I always felt like I could do. You start at your own pace and you build and you get stronger. I hear people say all the time, "There's no way I can run." At least start walking at a very fast pace to get your heart rate up. Then, eventually, you're going to start jogging at a very slow pace, and then once you start conditioning yourself, that pace is going to be a little bit faster. I know these athletes take it to the extreme and stuff like that, but I think that any human being can just get out there and jog a little bit and get their heart rate up and start conditioning their body.