Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is the type of player every team in the NFL is looking for. The 6’5, 260-pound pro has the size to run over linebackers and the speed to outrun even the fastest cornerbacks in the league. That combination is why Kelce has been voted to the Pro Bowl four straight times and earned All-Pro honors twice in 2016 and 2018.
In 2019, Kelce is doing it again, putting together another Pro Bowl-level season for the Chiefs: He leads all tight ends in yards and receptions through Week 11, and ranks in the top 10 in the entire league in receiving yards. It helps that he’s catching passes from Patrick Mahomes, the reigning NFL MVP. Kelce has to stay on his toes while playing alongside Mahomes, who has shown a penchant for throwing no-look passes.
“It’s fun. You never know if he’s no-looking you or looking at someone else, so you always have to be ready,” Kelce tells Men’s Journal. “You always have to be on the balls of your feet when you play with him, just have to be ready for this throws knowing that he has a plethora of ways to get the ball to you. It takes effort, but it’s great.”
Kelce has been scoring on the field, and off the field, he’s continuing to build things with his work with Hilo Nutrition. Kelce has become a part-owner of the sports nutrition company, which specializes in creating a wide range of gummies and supplements for athletes. Kelce has been using gummies in his routine and seeing those positive results brought him to work closely with the company, fully buying into it.
“Where it really jumped off for me, was when I was taking a Hilo gummie during games when I felt my stomach getting empty and I needed that energy to finish out games,” Kelce said. “When I would take it, it was a booster for me and it really worked. It clicked for me how convenient it was to get the nutrition I needed to perform at a high level. Like why hasn’t it been done with every supplement? It’s a cool convenient way to get the vitamins and supplements you need.”
Kelce spoke with Men’s Journal about how he trains, his gameday routine, and why he loves French toast.
Men’s Journal: What’s your daily routine like?
Travis Kelce: In offseason it’s a grind. Before the season starts, around late July, I’m on a five-day workout schedule, and within that I’m doing two days working lower body and two working upper body. I really don’t do anything crazy, but it works for me. What I like to do differently is how I recover. I do the hot and cold pools and I’m big on dry needling. It’s amazing for the body: You can target the areas that need release, and it gets the blood flow going. From athlete to athlete, a lot of guys train similarly, but I feel what I do recovery-wise is a bit unique.
How is your recovery routine different from other players?
My recovery gets more creative, I think. Where the creativity comes into play is about how you are recovering. For most players, they’re not doing it the same way I am. Are you getting two or three massages per week? Are you doing dry needle, hitting the tubs after practice? Are you running in a pool, working to get a lift in in after a game? Everyone’s body is different. It matters what you benefit the most from and you work that into your recovery.
Take us through a typical Travis Kelce training day. What types of stuff are you working on?
During the season, I do Tuesday/Thursday workouts in the mornings. I’m an early bird, so I’m usually up at 6 a.m. the latest every day. I get my workouts in before our meetings start around 8:15 to 9 a.m. I’ll start with lower body—squats are amazing. I think front squats really tie in everything with core, your lower extremities, and hips. The biggest thing I like to focus on in all my workouts is using my core to trigger everything. I have had two surgeries, so you want to make sure everything is connecting the right way.
What are some of your favorite types of workouts to do?
I’m big on shoulders. Everything I do is predicated on shoulders for me. I’ve had surgeries, so I try and keep focused on those. I’m making sure I’m hitting my scaps, delts, and my front shoulder muscles. I’m a huge core guy. Pullups and pushups are always undefeated in my mind: They are the ultimate two workouts you can do to help your core and upper body all work together. I think it helps me so much and evolve as an athlete.
How do you handle your diet and nutrition?
I’m fortunate that my best friend is jack-of-all-trades and he has helped me in nutrition, and being able to eat better and cleaner. He’s making sure I use the right ingredients, so you aren’t wasting an ounce of fuel. I couldn’t even get into description of what he gets into, I’ve given him the keys to the car and to give me what I need. Training-wise, I’ve been using Hilo Nutrition gummie supplements a lot, and I’ve found that those really work for me.
Why have you started using gummies more?
Part of it is that they’re easy to use, and I honestly think they taste amazing, I love the flavors. What’s great about the Hilo lineup is it has something for everything you need. It has your pre-workout and game-time gummies, they have your energy booster, which keeps you working out strong, and you have the muscle builder that you take twice a day, the nitro pump for blood flow for recovery, and sleep recovery. It can help you go to sleep and a way to get what you need at the same time. There really is something for everybody with the gummies. If you get in the routine of taking these daily, you’ll see the results. If you get in the routine of taking these daily, you’ll see the results. I was about 275-pounds post-surgery before minicamp started in June and by the time it was done I was all the way back down 20 to 25 pounds to where I needed to be. I gained after surgery and taking these I cut it within a month and half, I truly believe that these gummies can help you hit your goals and do whatever it is your working towards.
why did you want to partner and invest in Hilo Nutrition?
It’s been great working with Hilo. It’s such a cool unique story of how it came together and that was something that I liked. When you have a vision and want to be a part of something with good people, that’s really where it started. Knowing Andy has been a part of this area and this field with working with gummies and nutrition, that made it even better. They really can help your routine and I’ve seen it firsthand.
What’s your game-day food routine like?
On game day, you want to carb up, so I have the energy I need for the game. If I can, I’ll have a breakfast type of meal, since a lot of our games are from 12-4 in the afternoon. Sometimes you might get lunch, but it’s mostly breakfast. For me, I have to grab some French toast, get my blood sugar going, get some carbs in. I’m big on French toast. Always eat that at the teams’ pregame meal.
What’s it like playing with Patrick Mahomes?
It’s exciting. What he’s been able to do on the football field, it really ties into who Pat is as a football player—he’s just a baller. With how he throws the ball, how it releases out of his hand—he can sidearm it, go over the top, flick it sometimes—he can do it all. It’s a blast to play with him. He does things that no one else has ever really done.
If you could sit down to dinner with one NFL player in history, who would it be?
For me it would be a guy like [Hall of Fame tight end] Tony Gonzalez. I’d ask him how he prolonged his career and how he was able to stay in the league 15-plus years and be healthy basically the whole time. I would try and mentally soak up everything. I’ve had a conversation with him before, but it wasn’t with the direction and knowledge I have now.
What are your expectations for yourself and team for the rest of the season?
We’re working on winning this week, that’s all I can think of with the future for our team. I’ve been repetitive and working on my routine since the beginning of the season. I’m hyped up and amped up—we’re working to get better each week. I’m working to play to my best ability, hope that we’re playing well into December, and hopefully deep into January. Put ourselves in position to try and take it all home.
What else do you want people to know about using gummies?
I think the biggest to get across is that the entire range of gummies put together creates a routine for you as an athlete, or if you’re training. It can be a successful game plan for you. I wake up and the first thing I do is take a nitro pump, get my blood flow going that I need. I eat breakfast, and from that point on, there’s the pre-workout, the muscle-builder twice a day, and then for sleep recovery, you restart that cycle and so in the morning you can start over again. It’s a convenient, fun and tasty way to get your supplements.
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