Michael Strahan is a man of many talents. The Pro Football Hall of Famer is an NFL legend, sports commentator, friendly daytime TV and game show host, and most recently clothing line designer with his MSX by Michael Strahan collection—but no matter what he's doing for his day job (or jobs), he has always worked hard to keep his body in top shape.
The start of Strahan's journey with physical fitness is decidedly not what you would expect from someone who became one of the most feared pass rushers in pro football history. After realising that his older brothers were mocking his backside at age 13, young Michael decided it was time to get toned. His guide? One of the most iconic workouts in fitness history. As popular as his newfound workout was at the time, it might be the last thing you'd envision as a first step into the fitness and training world for a top-tier defensive end.
"I literally bought the Jane Fonda VHS tape," Strahan said when he stopped by Men's Health HQ to discuss his lifelong fitness journey. "I would watch TV—every commercial break I would do pushups and sit-ups. Or, I would do the leg lifts just like Jane Fonda."
Strahan soon moved on to more consistently programmed workouts with his father, Major Gene "Willie" Strahan, Sr., after Michael proved his dedication and consistency to training. The two exercised together daily, using programs that Strahan Sr. created using information from magazines and an early home computer. "There was no better workout partner for me than to have my dad, because not only did it help me gain more confidence, but it also made my relationship with him an incredible relationship for a young kid to have with his father," Michael said of the period, which was spent in Mannheim, Germany, at a U.S. military post.
Soon after, his father sent Michael to the U.S. to play football in high school. Michael wound up with a scholarship to Texas State University, became an NFL prospect, and landed with the New York Giants.
That's when he began to gain weight to compete in the league, using a diet of fast food to ballon up to 285 pounds on his 6'5'' frame. "It just wasn't me," Strahan recounted. "And as I got older, I lost weight because I felt I didn't need the girth to help me when I was out of position on a play, I knew technique at that point. But once I figured out technique I didn't need the weight."
During his career, Strahan said that the main focus for his workouts was on heavy weights. Some of that training was just to show off strength—and once his playing days were over in 2008, he changed his focus again to drop his football weight.
"I had to work with a lot more cardio," he said. "Flexibility, yoga—completely changed my life." The focus now is on using lighter weights and functional movements. Now, Strahan says he feels better now at 49 than he did at 25.
Check out this quick training session Strahan shared during his visit, and give it a try in your own routine. Just make sure to take note from him and listen to your body. Take a rest when you need it.
Michael Strahan's Workout Series
3 sets of 20 yards
Plyo Push-ups on Bosu
3 sets of 10 reps per side
Heavy Bag Flip
3 sets of 20 yards
Dumbbell Bench Press
3 sets of 8 reps
Cable Chest Flies
3 sets of 15 reps
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