Since being drafted by the New England Patriots in 2010, Rob Gronkowski has established himself as one of the best playmakers in football—and possibly one of the best tight ends in NFL history. With his combination of a 6’6”, 260-pound muscular frame and above-average speed, “Gronk” has redefined what it means to be a tight end, setting numerous records along the way.
Gronkowski’s success can be traced back to his intense work ethic on and off the field—especially in the gym, where he competed with his brothers growing up in all types of fitness contests—as well as to the man who has thrown him the ball for nearly his entire career: Tom Brady.
“It’s just an unreal experience having [Tom Brady] as my quarterback,” Gronkowski told Men’s Journal. “It’s a great opportunity to learn from a guy like that. When you have someone like him that you see every day, you want to learn as much as you can. It’s not easy to do what he’s done at any position, let alone quarterback, and it’s amazing the way he’s still going, the way he still competes in every game, on every play. You want to take as many tips and pointers from him you can get. I’m just lucky and honored to be a part of it.”
Gronkowski has a long list of accomplishments in his career, including winning two Super Bowl titles, making five Pro Bowl games, and being voted first-team All-Pro four times, but he’s still hungry for more. Through Week 7 of the NFL season, the Patriots are in first place and looking to pull another deep playoff run after losing to the Eagles in the Super Bowl last season.
“We’re feeling good as a team, and I’m feeling good about where we are,” Gronkowski says. “We’ve had an up and down season, but we’re on the right path right now. We just have to take one week at a time, one game at a time. For myself, I just have to keep on getting better. I definitely can always improve my game, and we just have to take things one opponent at a time. I’m excited about what we can do the rest of the way.”
Gronkowski has also been working with Honey Nut Cheerios on the Good Rewards program, joining actress Lucy Hale and actor Michael B. Jordan as team captains. Each team is working to pay it forward by collecting ‘Buzzcoin’ and at the end of the contest, the team that earns the most Buzzcoin will win $100,000 for their charity, while the 2nd place winner will receive a $50,000 donation, and the 3rd place winner will receive $25,000.
Gronkowski spoke with Men’s Journal about how he trains to stay in shape for football, what it’s like catching passes from Tom Brady, and who he’d have as his ultimate dinner party guests.
Men’s Journal: How do you train and get yourself ready for the NFL season?
Rob Gronkowski: In the offseason, it’s about taking care of your body the correct way, working out and eating right. During the season, it’s extremely important to make sure you’re getting the treatments you need to recover for the next day, and getting the proper rest and sleep so you can bounce back stronger. Eating the right way is so important, too. I always make sure I’m putting the nutrition in my body that will help keep me fueled and energized when I get on the field.
What are some of your favorite exercises and workouts to do?
I love doing resistance workouts, especially with resistance bands. I feel like they just help me out big time, keep me loose, keep my body strong, and keep me moving quick. I feel like those workouts are just the best for my body of anything that I do. When I’m working on speed and my quickness, I’ll train my fast twitch muscles, making sure I’m going in all different directions and not just straight back-and-forward. I make sure I’m doing lateral motions side-to-side and doing it quickly. Working on those muscles helps me stay active on the field and helps with my speed a lot.
I mean, I love doing just bodyweight type workouts, just a lot of high reps of those. It’s great to have a gym, but if you don’t have access to anywhere at the moment, I believe you can just get a full workout in just using your body or whatever’s out there in nature for weights. A log, a big rock, whatever you have. I like doing a lot of body squats, and you can come up with many, many exercises just using your body.
You and your brothers grew up playing sports together. Did you ever compete with each other in the gym?
Oh yeah, we were always competing versus each other. In the weight room, at whatever pickup sport we were playing, we always went at each other. We were just always bashing each other when we worked out. Eventually, we just came up with a game just to bash each other where we put a pillow inside our shirts and we all stand in the corner, and then we’d all run full speed at each other and whoever falls loses, and we just did that repetitively many, many times until we wore out of energy [laughs]. It was always fun working out with them.
What do you do in your diet and nutrition to stay in shape?
I like to make sure that I get my veggies and fruits in every single day. No matter what I’m eating, I make sure to get that stuff in somehow. Whether it’s veggies in the juice I’m drinking, or some vegetables or fruit on the side of my dish, I always get those in on every meal.
You’ve been able to travel around the world as part of your athletic career. What places have you been to that you’ve really enjoyed visiting?
Yeah, I love traveling, especially out of the country. A good spot this year was Jamaica and just being able to indulge in their fruit that they have there, and just how natural it is and just how good it is. Just how sweet it tastes. Especially their mango, dude. It’s just insane. And the fish and seafood is incredible.
Any places you’re hoping to visit that you haven’t been yet?
All over Europe. I definitely want to do a trip like that when I have the chance.
What’s the one type of snack you recommend people should put out when they’re having people over for football?
You have to have some guacamole and chips no matter what. You have to have those good snacks. Without the good snacks and the good drinks, it’s really no party at all.
If you were to host a dinner party with some athletes or celebrities, who would be on your ultimate guest list?
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would be great to have. I also would go with Tony Gonzalez, one of the best tight ends ever, he has lots of good knowledge. LeBron James would be cool to have as well, bringing in one of the greatest basketball players and to be able to talk to him and pick his brain. Same with Michael Jordan to be there, and I’d have to have Tom Brady, too. So “The Rock,” Tony Gonzalez, Tom Brady, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan would be my ultimate dinner party guests for sure. Lock it in and have a great dinner.
You’ve teamed up with Honey Nut Cheerios for a charity program. What do you enjoy about doing charity work and can you tell us more about working with Honey Nut Cheerios for this program?
Doing charity work and working with kids and the community means a lot to me. I have the opportunity and the platform to be in the public eye to use it in a good way and help inspire kids to do what they want to do in life. I want to be able to give them the tools to be successful out there. I believe I had all the tools to be successful, and I made it to the NFL. I had my friends around me, my family, my brothers, and I always had someone to play with in the backyard with me, no matter what sport it was, so it just inspires me to give kids that are in need that opportunity to be able to do the activities that they want to do growing up.
I’m super excited to team up with Honey Nut Cheerios on the Good Rewards program, which is giving me the opportunity to win $100,000 for the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation. My group helps kids to reach their maximum potential through school and sports to help give them the equipment that they need in order to play in the activities that they want to participate in. For example, we donate to many youth football programs, give them equipment, new helmets, and new shoulder pads so they can keep on playing, be active, and strive to their best potential in life growing up. I’m competing against Lucy Hale and Michael B. Jordan in the program, and he’s a tough one to face off against because he’s just an awesome guy, but no matter who wins, we’re all still giving in to our charities from this program and that means a lot to me.
We’re all in it for a special charity. In order for myself to win too, you just need to scan the Buzzcoin on back of the Honey Nut Cheerios box and scan it into my name. You can do it at beegoodrewards.com and that’ll give me a chance to gain more coins and try and win some more money for charity.