Over the course of his college and NFL careers, Adrian Peterson’s body has done its best to keep one of the best running backs in recent memory from reaching his potential. But Peterson has continually fought back.
As a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma, he broke his foot. Then the following year, during his final season, he broke his collarbone. Despite these injuries and a slew of missed games, Peterson still became the second leading rusher in Sooners history.
His body recovered, and after being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2007, Peterson dug his claws into the NFL, earning Rookie of the Year accolades and amassing over 1,000 yards in each of his first four seasons—including a 1,760-yard effort in 2008. Then, in 2011, Peterson’s body again let him down. In a December game against the Atlanta Falcons, he tore both his ACL and MCL and was relegated to injured reserve for the rest of the year. Another off-season of rehab awaited him.
As most fans know, Peterson came back with a vengeance. Just eight months after his initial surgery, he was playing again; and he won the NFL MVP award in 2012, proving that either he is bionic or he knows exactly how to take care of his body. We’d guess the latter.
“I’ve learned a lot in my seven years in the league, and my training and recovery methods have evolved as a result,” Peterson said. “Putting the energy into the recovery side is what allows me to train hard the next day and keep pushing myself.”
And push himself he has. AP won the 2012 MVP award after a season in which he finished a mere eight yards shy of the single-season rushing record—an incredible feat for anyone, but nothing short of spectacular for a guy coming off major surgery and playing with a sports hernia.
Peterson’s goals are not for the meek. He wants to rush for 2,500 yards this year, an accomplishment that would instantly make him a pro football legend.
But Peterson has a shot, because he has learned what his body needs, inside and out. Exercises like Single-Leg Presses, Curls and Extensions have strengthened his legs to withstand the physical punishment of the NFL season. He routinely squats 405 pounds, and if he’s really feeling good, he bumps it up to 465. He combines Pull-Ups with Med Ball Chest Tosses and Med Ball Push-Ups to make his torso nearly indestructible and to support his violent style of running.
“I’m happy with where my body is at, because I have put in the work to maintain it. I’ve always been willing to challenge my body and push it to the next level,” Peterson said.
To maintain his Herculean frame, Peterson has also heightened his attention to nutrition and recovery. He admits to eating healthier as a veteran, consuming oatmeal for breakfast, and salmon, tilapia or steak for lunch and dinner.
Since his ACL tear, Peterson has used ice compression therapy to help his muscles recover. He uses a product from Hyperice called the Vyper (check out its Kickstarter page), a foam roller that uses vibration and compression. “It really helps remove muscle soreness after training, practices and games,” Peterson said. “I use it at night because it loosens and lengthens the muscles so I wake up less sore. Then, I get on it the next day as a warm-up to help prepare and get loose for whatever I’m doing that day.”
Is 2,500 yards possible? Some might call Peterson crazy for even thinking about it. But it might be even crazier to bet against a man who has run, cut and plowed through so many obstacles and always come back stronger.