To his opponents’ dismay, Tom Brady isn’t slowing down with time. The Patriots quarterback turned 42 on Saturday, and just signed a new deal with the team. Brady, it seems, has more gas in the tank.
So, how does he do it? While the average career span for an NFL quarterback is three years, Brady has been playing for almost two decades. Is it his love of avocados? TB12-brand electrolytes? His methodical way of thinking?
In a cover story for Men’s Health magazine, writer Ben Court revealed the inner details of Brady’s approach to health, fitness, and success.
Here’s 12 things we learned about TB12, the guy:
1.Brady trains in the Bahamas every summer:
Every summer for the past seven years, the quarterback of the New England Patriots has come to this remote island [Bahamas] for a beach boot camp. It’s an intense part of his regimen, which has him training two to three hours daily to strengthen his arm, pack on more upper-body muscle to absorb hits, and sharpen his footwork and acceleration so that he can elude pass rushers.
2. Brady warms up using a hand towel instead of a ball:
The QB slips into his shoulder pads, dons a silver helmet, and warms up using a white hand towel instead of a ball. He unfurls that smooth throwing motion that has tortured opposition players and thrilled New England fans for 19 years, culminating with a flick of the wrist that snaps the towel.”
3. Only “10 percent’ of his passes are what he wants:
Brady tells me that during games, only about 10 percent of his passes do what he wants them to do. “There are times when I release the ball and I know it’s perfect. I throw it with the exact pace and arc that I wanted, and to the exact location,” he says. “But when I throw it and it doesn’t do that, in my mind [I’m thinking,] I’m f***ing s***—what did I do wrong? I f***ing overstrode. Too little torque.”
4. Brady had to change his approach to training:
“You gotta understand,” Brady says of his early years in the NFL, “I was like every other American kid. I believed if you want to get good, you gotta go squat and bench, and it’s all I ever did.”
He was suffering severe tendinitis because he threw so much and lifted so heavy. The cycle of throw-ice-repeat reached a crisis point—he had to take days off from practice. “My teammate Willie McGinest said to me, ‘Dude, if you want to keep playing, you gotta go see Alex,’ ” Brady said.
5. His trainer, Alex Guerrero, focuses on ‘pliability’:
Each of Brady’s daily sessions with Guerrero begins on a massage table, with deep-force treatment of 20 muscle groups, each for about 20 seconds. Guerrero strokes the muscle rhythmically, and then Brady starts flexing and relaxing the muscle at a faster and faster pace while doing a functional movement.
Guerrero focuses on speed, agility, and core stability. Most days, Brady does a lot of high-resistance-banded movement drills (squats, push-ups, push presses) along with plenty of lunging, squatting, and planking in different directions against the tension of the band.
6. Brady trains his brain as much as his body:
He spends 15 minutes per day using TB12 BrainHQ (developed with Posit Science, a leader in online training for brain plasticity), drilling his brain speed and pattern recognition. That prep, plus film study, plus his well-known memory (he can accurately and vividly recall plays from decades ago), plus 19 years of experience, gives Brady special powers at the line of scrimmage.
“There are not many things that I unknow in football,” Brady admitted. “You call the play. I see the defense; I know what to do. Say there’s five guys going on routes. Wherever the defense guards are, I’m going to throw it the opposite way. By the time I have the ball in my hands, I know what I want to do with it.”
7. Brady eats the same foods:
Brady tends to eat the same healthy foods over and over: berry-and-banana smoothies pre-workout; avocado and eggs for breakfast; salads with nuts and fish for lunch; hummus, guacamole, or mixed nuts for snacks; and roasted vegetables and chicken for dinner.
8. His favorite cheat food is chocolate, and he does eat junk food (sometimes):
“If I’m craving bacon, I have a piece,” Brady said. “Same with pizza. You should never restrict what you really want. We’re humans, here for one life. What’s changed as I’ve gotten older is now if I want pizza, I want the best pizza. I don’t eat a slice that tastes like s*** and then wonder, Why am I eating s*** pizza?”
For the record, his cheat food is chocolate, specifically Unreal Candy.
9. Brady doesn’t expect you to be just like him:
Perhaps the closest analogy to his mission with the TB12 brand is Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop—Hey, world: Here’s a celebrity who is the ideal spokesperson for their own brand, because if it works for them, it can work for you!…I present my Goop theory to Brady, and he scrunches his face at the comparison. He emphasizes that “you don’t need to be like a cyborg” to be healthy and fit; you just have to make more good decisions than bad ones.
“No one has to be Tom Brady,” he says. “I just get to be Tom Brady. You get to be you. Everyone has a choice. But if you want to be good at sports, you have to work hard at it. If you want to be healthy, you have to work at it. But you can’t say, ‘I want to be healthy,’ then eat shitty food and do crappy workouts.”
10. Family is just as important as football:
Brady on family: “[Brady’s son] Jack is just like me—he holds a lot in. Benny lets it all out. Vivi, she doesn’t care. They’re going to be their own selves, not who you want them to be.” Elaborating on the topic, he says: “Jack loves sports. He wants to try hard, and he never wants to disappoint his dad. That was me. I’d wake up early on weekends to do stuff with my dad. That’s why I didn’t party a lot. If Dad wanted to golf, I wanted to be there with him. And if I ever missed those things, it would crush me.”
11. His children took the 2017 Super Bowl loss hard:
He recalls how after the Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2017 Super Bowl, he walked into the locker room and found his three kids in tears. “I had to put my emotions aside so I could deal with their emotions,” he recalls. “I said, ‘Guys, look: Daddy doesn’t always win. That isn’t the way life is. You try really hard—that’s the most important thing. If you gave it your best, you live with the outcome.’ ”
12. [His wife] Gisele [Bundchen] isn’t into sports:
“Gisele is not really into sports,” Brady said. “She’s like a kite flying in the sky, and I’m kind of tethering her. Sometimes I have to hold on hard. But she knows I’m always there for her.”