Russell Wilson’s father was a wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers and his grandfather played football and basketball at Kentucky State University, and he was also a president of Norfolk State University. Gowing up in Virginia, Wilson played high school football and twice was named Player of the Year by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He was also on his high school’s baseball and basketball teams. He set records at NC State and spent a year at the University of Wisconsin before being drafted by the NFL in 2012 where he has continued to set plenty of records, including for being the shortest quarterback to win a Super Bowl. He is married to singer Ciara. Wilson is 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs about 214 lbs. with 10% body fat.
Russell Wilson’s Diet
Wilson has had a personal chef since starting with the NFL and says he did his best to eat healthy throughout his career, but following an injury-laden year in 2016, he was forced to take a closer look at what he was eating to regain his edge. Wilson’s weight had gone up to 225 lbs. and he wasn’t feeling as mobile, so at the urging of his wife and former trainer Gunnar Peterson, he hired ‘food coach’ Philip Goglia. Goglia also advises celebrities like Chris Pratt and Kim Kardashian (along with plenty of other athletes). Wilson now eats 9 times a day and has cut gluten and dairy, yet he increased his calories from 2,700 to 4,800. He also makes sure to drink plenty of water each day.
- Medium Fat 25% 25%
- Medium Carb 30% 30%
- Medium-High Protein 60% 60%
Wilson’s meals vary between mini and monstrous. Before his first workout of the day, Wilson will have a tablespoon of almond butter and and another one of jam. But his real breakfast is huge: 2 cups of oatmeal, 6 whole eggs, a chicken breast and fruit.
Eat to Burn
Wilson’s nutritionist Goglia explains that eating less is not always a recipe for weight loss, especially in the case of athletes. He says that since a calorie is a unit of heat and fat converts to energy in a hot environment, you have to eat enough to generate heat to burn those calories.
No Gluten, No Dairy
Wilson has cut out all gluten and dairy and is sticking to it. In addition to feeling more energetic, he has concerns about developing diabetes which led to his father’s death.
Wilson will have fruit and a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses before bed to provide early morning energy for a light workout. If the next day’s training is more intense, he’ll have a mash of shredded wheat, applesauce, almond butter and jam.
What to Eat
Nuts & nut butters
What to Avoid
Wilson on His Gluten-free, Dairy-free Diet
‘Still doing it religiously…I think it’s critical. It allows you to wake up feeling good.’
Wilson on His Motivation for Sticking to The Diet
‘I love food. I’m from the South…I have to be really conscientious of what I eat. Also, my dad had diabetes.’
Wilson on Eating Whole Foods
I’m trying to eat organic, whole nutrition-type foods to help me fuel and repair. That’s really critical for me.’
Wilson on Taking Care of Your Body
‘I learned how veteran guys took care of their bodies, like waking up early to do the ice tub and the hot tub, and of course, proper hydration.’
Russell Wilson’s Fitness Routine
In the off-season, Wilson lifts 4 days per week, and does a split between speed and strength, alternating days on and days off between sessions.
Mix It Up With TRX
Wilson sometimes changes things up by doing a combination of TRX and core exercises.
A Matter of Mindset
Being an elite quarterback requires more than physical perfection. Wilson also has a coach to help him perfect his mental edge.
Wilson does a variety of Olympic lifting exercises including power cleans, squats and deadlifts.
Get Out of Neutral With the Swiss ball
Wilson uses the Swiss ball for a bunch of exercises including stability holds, snatch & throws, and woodchops.
Wilson also does a lot with the cable, including the lawnmower row and curls. Using a cable rather than free weights encourages smoother movements, reducing strain on joints.
Big Guns Workout
Swiss ball walkout: weeks 1 & 2, 5 reps x 1 set. Weeks 3 & 4, 5 reps x 2 sets.
Flex T lunge & rotation: weeks 1 & 2, 20 reps x 2 sets. Weeks 3 & 4, 20 reps x 3 sets.
Plank walkup: weeks 1 & 2, 8 reps x 2 sets. Weeks 3 & 4, 10 reps x 3 sets.
Resistance band walk/row/splitter: weeks 1 & 2, 2 sets. Weeks 3 & 4, 3 sets.
Core rotation: weeks 1 & 2, 12 reps x 2 sets. Weeks 3 & 4, 15 reps x 3 sets.
Medicine ball pushup: weeks 1 & 2, 12 reps x 2 sets. Weeks 3 & 4, 15 reps x 3 sets.
TRX rotational row: weeks 1 & 2, 12 reps x 2 sets. Weeks 3 & 4, 15 reps x 3 sets.
TRX curl: weeks 1 & 2, 12 reps x 2 sets. Weeks 3 & 4, 15 reps x 3 sets.
Overhead band extension: weeks 1 & 2, 12 reps x 2 sets. Weeks 3 & 4, 15 reps x 3 sets.
4 Day Split
Complete all sets for each exercise before moving on to the next. No rest between sets.
Medicine ball rotational throw: 5 reps x 3 sets
Medicine ball woodchop: 5 reps x 3 sets
Trap raise: 5 reps x 3 sets
Squat: 5 reps/side x 3 sets
Suspended row: 8 reps x 4 sets
Overhead curl: 8 reps x 2 sets
Front squat: 5 reps x 3 sets
Single-leg Romanian deadlift: 5 reps/side x 3 sets
Machine press: 8 reps x 3 sets
2-Angle dumbbell fly: 8 reps x 2 sets
Resistance band pull-apart: 35 reps x 3 sets
Overhead cable triceps extension: 8 reps x 3 sets
Swiss ball plank circle: 30 sec x 3 sets
Dumbbell hang clean & squat & press: 3 reps/side x 3 sets
Trap raise: 5 reps x 3 sets
Step-up: 5 reps/side x 3 sets
Lat pulldown: 8 reps x 2 sets
One-arm reverse-grip cable row: 8 reps x 2 sets
Pushup: 8 reps x 3 sets
Band curl: 30 sec x 2 sets
Squat: 5 reps x 4 sets
Dumbbell Romanian deadlift: 5 reps x 3 sets
Incline barbell bench press: 8 reps/side x 3 sets
Pushups: 15, 12, 10 reps x 2 sets
Wilson on His Routine
‘I usually get up pretty early…during the season, I typically wake up around 5 am. By 5:30, I’m doing a hot-and-cold tub contrast…and by 6:30, I’ve got mobility work and yoga.’
Wilson on His Routine, Take II
‘It sounds cheesy, but…I feel younger than ever. That’s because I’ve been really investing in the body and movement and sleep parts.’
Wilson on Where to Start
‘I think it all starts with the base. It all starts in the legs first and works its way up from there, from your core to your shoulders.’
Wilson on His Favorite Leg Exercise
‘Single-leg lunges. You’re putting yourself in a sprinter’s stance while getting your glutes strong with everything else.’
Russell Wilson’s Supplements
Blackstrap molasses is made during sugar refining made when the sugar cane has been boiled 3 times. Unlike refined sugar, blackstrap molasses contains vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, B6, potassium and magnesium.
protein powder, creatine, and BCAAs
Other than molasses, Wilson keeps his supplements on the down low. But anyone looking to build muscle will probably want to take protein powder and creatine, and BCAAs to help prevent muscle breakdown.
Fish oil will help with recovery and to lubricate joints, and a greens supplement can help make sure you get plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Probiotics improves nutrient absorption.
Vitamin D helps build strong bones.
Russell Wilson’s Lifestyle
The Importance of Sleep
Wilson says he used to function fine on 5 hours, but no longer. He tries to get at least 9-10 hours on the weekend. He also has a special mattress called Molecule which Tom Brady also uses.
Wilson spends a lot of time at the Seattle Children’s Hospital. He says it’s his favorite part of the week.
In 2007, Wilson was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles but decided to go to NC State instead. (He played 2 sports throughout most of his college career.) In 2013, the Texas Rangers snagged him during the Rule 5 draft as part of a publicity stunt.
Coming Up Roses
Wilson led the University of Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl in 2012 (but they lost to the Oregon Ducks). He still set an FBS record for passing efficiency that season.
Wilson is a big fan of gospel music, particularly Lamar Campbell and Kirk Franklin.
Wilson on Life’s Purpose
‘Always persevere, always have a great perspective and always have great purpose in your life.’
Wilson on Hope
‘I truly believe in positive synergy, that your positive mindset gives you a more hopeful outlook.’
Wilson on his Leadership
‘My height doesn’t define my skill set. To be a great quarterback, you have to have great leadership, great attention to detail, and a relentless competitive nature. I try to bring that on a daily basis.’
Wilson on Going the Distance
‘I want to play until I’m 45 years old.’