How does Shannon Sharpe remain football fit?

During his 14-year NFL career, Shannon Sharpe redefined the tight end position en route to over 10,000 receiving yards and three Super Bowl titles. The Hall of Famer was a dominant force on the field; a physical specimen at the peak of his game. Despite retiring after the 2003 season, Sharpe has maintained a healthy lifestyle off the field, ensuring that his post-playing days are just as fulfilling as his time in the NFL. Sharpe recently spoke with NFL Up! and offered some insight into his workout routine and nutrition habits, and what fans at home can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle, too.

How does your workout routine now differ from when you were a player?

SS: Well, obviously now, it’s more for health benefits whereas before it was specific to the sport I was playing. So, I lifted a lot heavier weights and I actually ran more because in my job description [as a tight end] I was required to run a lot more than what I do now. But for the most part, the eating really hasn’t changed that much. I still eat fairly healthy, although I don’t eat as healthy as I did when I played. I eat a little bit for enjoyment now as opposed to eating for survival when I played. But not a whole lot has changed. I still enjoy training and it’s still a part of my everyday life. Michael Irvin and I joke all the time that we never want to be that guy that when a father and his son walk by and the dad tells his son, ‘That guy used to play in the NFL,’ the kid would look at him and say, ‘I wonder what position he played.’ So being active is very conducive to having a healthy lifestyle. Because for the most part, I’m all about quality of life, not quantity of life, and I realize I played a sport that took a huge toll on my body. And then my family history. There’s a lot of heart ailments, diabetes and things of that nature, so I wanted to get a head start on that.

You said your nutrition habits haven't changed too much. What are your dietary habits?

SS: Fish, chicken, turkey, bison and veggies. I’m big on green veggies: arugula, spinach and kale. I’m not a fad guy. I stick to stuff that is tried and true. You know, all of a sudden the juice craze has taken over and all that other stuff. I think everything has its purpose and has a place, but I’m going to stick to what’s tried and true. I think with lean cuts of chicken and beef, fish, turkey, ground beef and bison, you can’t go wrong with those.

What is your weekly exercise routine like?

SS: I’m more of a cross-training guy now. I don’t work a specific body part. I don’t go into the gym and say, ‘Okay, I’m going to do chest today,’ or, ‘I’m going to do chest and arms,’ or, ‘I’m going to do back or legs.’ I cross-train, so I hit everything in a particular workout, and I do that three times a week. I’m a big cardio guy. I love spinning, and I do that seven to eight times a week because I have time. What else am I going to do? I don’t have a hobby. I don’t play golf; I don’t restore cars; and I don’t have a fixer-upper house that I’m working on. So basically, my day is built around just working out. That’s what I enjoy doing.

You're one of the best tight ends to ever play the game. What differences do you see in tight ends today compared to when you played?

SS: I think the biggest thing now is that when I first got into the league, you played football and then you took time off, and then you got back into football shape. Really, it’s a year-round business now, and although the new CBA has pushed OTAs back and the amount of time you can have with the players, I think the players take it serious now. They realize this is a year-round business, and you can make a lot of money in a very short period of time. And I think guys take full advantage of that. Whereas guys used to use training camp to get in shape, guys basically come back in tiptop shape once they come back with the team during OTAs.