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Should You Try Tom Brady’s Fitness Plan? A WebMD Doctor Weighs In

Michael  W. Smith, MD - Blogs
By Michael W. Smith, MDBoard-certified internistSeptember 20, 2017
From the WebMD Archives

Ready for quarterback Tom Brady to get you in the most pliable shape of your life?

With the launch of his new book “The TB12 Method,” Brady aims to help you “achieve a lifetime of sustained peak performance.” The 40-year old NFL star of the 5-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots clearly knows a thing or two about that.

If your goal is long, soft muscles, Brady’s your guy. That’s pliability. And it’s a good goal. Many of my kinesiology and physical therapy friends have been singing the praises of pliability for quite some time.

It’s not about being a flexible yogi. We’re talking about releasing tension from your muscles that produces soreness, increases injury, and decreases performance.

To increase pliability, you have to traumatize your muscles – break up the stiff connective tissue that leaves you tight and sore. Heard of a foam roller? Watch this video to see how it works. Brady recommends a vibrating foam roller (or sphere). Also a good suggestion – and one that’s recommended by other performance coaches. Foam rolling can be a bit painful, but no one said this was going to be easy. If it’s too much, ease off a bit and give your knotted up muscles some time to release.

Brady isn’t going strong on the field at 40 just from soft muscles. He’s definitely a holistic kind of guy.

Nutritionally, he’s about balance, stressing the importance of a plant-based diet. Can’t go wrong there. Plenty of medical evidence to back that up. But he loses me with his alkalinizing focus.

Proponents of this diet, including Brady, believe that foods that are acidic increase inflammation and alkaline foods decrease it. But what you eat isn’t going to make your blood, your urine, or any part of your body more acidic or alkaline. We just aren’t built that way. One thing your body does extremely well is to keep your pH (the balance of acidity and alkalinity in your body) right at 7.4. Brady says a “pH range below 7 means the body is too acidic.” That’s true but it’s also incompatible with life. That’s how tightly your body controls acidity and alkalinity levels – regardless of what you eat.

But he’s so crazy healthy! There must be something to it, right?!

Here’s Brady’s nutritional approach …

  • Mostly vegetables
  • Healthy fats
  • Foods high in fiber
  • Variety of foods that contain different nutrients and minerals

Here’s what Brady limits in his diet …

  • Refined carbs
  • Unhealthy fats
  • Dairy
  • Salt
  • Nightshade veggies and fruits (these include tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, peppers, blueberries)
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

Sound familiar? Pretty much the same thing nutritional experts recommend. This is a great nutritional approach, but it doesn’t have anything to do with alkalinizing your body. If you still want to explore altering your pH (it’s not gonna happen), Brady has a long list of alkalinizing foods for you.

On another note, he says he avoids nightshade vegetables and fruits to decrease inflammation, which is particularly necessary at his peak level. No good evidence to support that, but no huge harm done there.

Now onto his exercise routine. He focuses heavily on resistance bands. I’m with him on this one. He’s more about functional exercise and taking muscles through a full range of motion. He’s right – you can accomplish this better through bands than weights. Heavy weights tend to leave you stiff and put undue pressure on your joints.

Even though there’s no real magic in Brady’s approach, follow it, and you’ll be better off for it. His focus on pliability is a welcome one. Many of us (yes, I’m talking to you fellas lifting way too much weight in the gym with bad form) would serve ourselves well by following his lead.

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About the Author
Michael W. Smith, MD

Michael Smith, MD, CPT, is a board-certified internal medicine doctor and WebMD’s Chief Medical Editor. He is also an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer with a passion for helping people live a healthy, active lifestyle. He appears regularly as an expert on national and local broadcast media.

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