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NFL legend Rod Woodson's cardio tips

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*Rod Woodson no longer lifts weights, but spends the bulk of his workout doing cardio activities (Jeff Glidden/Associated Press)

Hall of Famer Rod Woodson was the embodiment of the ideal NFL defender over the course of his 17-year career. As a safety and cornerback, Woodson racked up 71 interceptions, third most all-time, to go along with an NFL record 12 return touchdowns. After an illustrious career that also included a Super Bowl championship with the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, Woodson has found a niche in sports broadcasting. He recently spoke with NFL Up! about his new workout routine and dietary habits. He even divulged what his guilty pleasure foods are.

You had an amazing career. Now that you're retired, how does your workout routine differ from when you were a player?

RW: I think it differs greatly. I don't need to be the strongest guy in the room anymore. So most of my workout routine consists of just cardio. I have the Tour de France workout bike (stationary bike) and I also do the treadmill. I can't run anymore, per se, because of my left knee, but I walk on an incline or ride a bike. I'm doing 30 miles on the Tour de France bike a day, or even 40 miles. Then, if I'm walking, I walk probably about an hour a day on a 10-grade incline at a nice little crisp walk.

So not much weightlifting now, right?

RW: No, I really don't. I still try and stay toned. I do sit-ups, push-ups and I'll do some dips and some chin-ups, but weights, per se, I haven't touched a weight in the last couple of years.


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What advice would you give players who are about to retire from the league? Should cardio be their main focus?

"I don't need to be the strongest guy in the room anymore."

RW: Well, I think as we're all getting older in life, not just being an athlete, as we get older as people our metabolism is slowing down, our bodies are changing and I think the way you eat -- the things you eat and when you eat -- is a big indication also of your fitness as you get older. I quit drinking (soda) pop about ten years ago. I don't drink any alcohol anymore outside of a little red wine every blue moon. My biggest weakness when I was a player was sweets. I loved ice cream, I loved chips and I loved candy. I cut back on that now. I probably do that maybe once a week or once every couple of weeks. I also don't eat late anymore. I used to eat at all different kinds of hours, and now the latest I'll eat dinner is probably 5:30 p.m. or 6:00 p.m.

What are your nutrition habits like now compared to your playing days? I'm sure as a player you had to eat more to pack on more weight.

RW: My diet hasn't changed a whole bunch because I never really was a fatty, fast food guy. I haven't eaten a fast food hamburger in quite a while. But I think the biggest thing for me is the portions that I eat and when I eat. I eat just a little bit in the morning, probably some type of yogurt with a banana or some type of fiber cereal. Then, I snack with some different cashews and peanuts in the afternoon, and then I eat whatever my wife cooks for dinner. That's no later than 5:30 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. Then I won't snack or eat the rest of the day. If I do, then it's going to be some type of a granola bar or protein bar.

When you do indulge in sweets, what's your favorite guilty pleasure food?

RW: Oh gosh, let's see. Well, I love apple pie and peach cobbler. And I love butterscotch ice cream. Those things right there ... if it's around, it's not around too long around me. So I try to keep the family from getting that stuff, and my wife understands it. It's very rare that it's in our household nowadays.

For young cornerbacks and safeties coming into the league, what advice would you give them about fitness and dieting?

RW: I think the biggest thing that I would say is maintain the diet for your future health and the energy level that you want to have throughout each practice. But I think the biggest thing I would tell them about conditioning workouts is maintain a foundation throughout the whole year. A lot of guys, once the season is over, they want to rest, which is great. For me, when I got older, I took a longer rest period after the season was over to when I started working out again. But when I was younger, I maintained a foundation of working out throughout the whole offseason; either riding a bike, jogging on the treadmill or jogging around the neighborhood. I kept a foundation there, so once I wanted to get back into high-core training, I already had a baseline set.

What's a good exercise the average NFL fan can do right at home to stay fit?

RW: If you're at home, any type of athletic motion is good, whether you're taking jump shots outside or doing free squats. Anything of that nature to get the heart rate moving is always good for the body. Push-ups, sit-ups and those types of things are good, too. Even just walking around the neighborhood is great because it will get the blood flowing, and that's good to keep high blood pressure down and your calcium count down. So all those types of things, you can just do at the house with the family or on your own.

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