If this is the era of the quarterback, it seems like nobody told Derrick Henry.
The 6’3, 240-pound Tennessee Titans running back is one of the most devastating forces in the league with the ball in his hands. Henry has led the NFL in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns the past two seasons, winning last season’s Offensive Player of the Year award. Before suffering an October foot injury, he was on pace to lead in those categories this season. Now, he’s looking to return in time to lead the Titans into the playoffs.
Former NFL receiver Dez Bryant probably put it best:
His offseason workouts seem to get more ridiculous each year. His workload is based both on need and his sheer dominance. Attempt to try and tackle him is risking ending up on the wrong end of a highlight.
Henry spoke with GQ about how he eats and works out to maintain his body, being the latest athlete for Team Milk, and those eye-popping offseason workouts.
GQ: Are you someone who abides by a strict diet, or you can eat whatever you want?
Derrick Henry: I don’t really have any strict eating ways. I think everyone deserves a cheat day. I snack here and there but not too much. I really enjoy eating fruit if I’m going to have snack.
What’s a typical day of eating look like for you?
For breakfast, it’s probably some eggs, some fruit, a glass of milk and water. For lunch, it’s usually whatever we have here at the facility. It would either be a steak, a sandwich—just whatever I’m in the mood for. I never can decide what I want to eat for dinner. It’s either going to be some steak, chicken or pasta with shrimp—or something close to that.
What does it mean to be part of Team Milk for this newest campaign?
My grandma used to tell me that milk strengthens your bones. Being part of Team Milk is perfect, especially encouraging kids to drink milk. I remember being a kid, walking around campus and seeing Got Milk? signs with athletes in the hallways. Now, I’m one of them and any time you can encourage the youth to do something that will benefit them— it’s cool.
Are you just primarily drinking milk after workouts?
I’ve been drinking milk all my life and I love it. I drink chocolate milk after I work out—it’s great for recovery—and I drink milk when I’m at the house.
For the past few off seasons, any time you post any of your workouts with Melvin Sanders, it goes viral. Do you two discuss those or is that what he comes up with?
That’s all Melvin. He’s in charge of all of the workouts. Anything you see that I put out is all him. The things he comes up with, he does them. I’ll be like, yeah, I probably can’t do that, because he can come up with some crazy stuff. He’s still so athletic with being the age he is, and he can do everything. Sometimes, I’m like, uh, probably not, but it definitely helps me get better.
Obviously, you’re not completing workouts like that during the season. Is the season all about maintaining that base that’s built in the offseason?
During the season, I’m doing the workouts that our strength and conditioning coaches have for us here and it’s about maintaining that strength, keeping the muscles strong and keeping my body intact.
You’re in a sport where the longevity of the running back is often a very short window, but you’re bucking that—there hasn’t been anyone built like you. Can you detail your focus as it pertains to how you approach the game?
It’s just about working hard and trying to get better every day. Stay hungry. Never get complacent. Be a great leader and teammate and trust in the man above. What’s meant for me will be for me. I keep my trust and faith in him. I continue to work and try and get better each and every day that I can. .
Given your workload, what are you doing to help keep your body fresh to be ready for the next game?
After the games, I don’t eat much. I’ll sit around with my family, watch some games and then the next day, I start my recovery stuff. That’s hot tub, cold tub, massage, dry needling, ART (Active Release Therapy) and just the whole nine so I can get my body back ready for practice and then the game.
Each game, you’re basically creating and chasing history. Is it difficult to stay locked in and not worry about what’s being said with what you’re doing?
I don’t really worry about chasing history or anything like that. All I’m worried about is how I perform every week, controlling what I can control and that’s me coming to work every day and improving. It’s also being a great teammate and doing what I can to help the team, and staying hungry. That’s never being satisfied with what’s going on and always looking for the things I can get better at each and every day.
What’s your pre-game routine?
I’ll wake up. If I stayed in a hotel the night before, I’ll drive home and play with my daughter. I’ll eat some bananas and other fruits, have a lot of water. I’ll get my clothes on and head to the stadium with my jug of water. I’m ready to go after that.
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