At 40 years old, Tom Brady shows no signs of slowing down in a game dominated by younger players. Yesterday, for the first time in his career, the New England Patriots quarterback threw three touchdown passes in the first quarter of a game, helping the Patriots beat the New Orleans Saints 36-to-20.
Brady says his performance is due to his unique fitness and diet regime. It's described in his new book, "The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance" (published by Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS).
Brady, who wasgave the "CBS This Morning" co-anchor an inside look at his fitness routine.
"Some people want denser muscles," Brady said. "As an athlete, as a quarterback, I don't want them. I want to keep my muscles strong and active, but also pliable."
He describes "pliability" as lengthening and softening the muscles.
"But everybody thinks they want muscles to be harder?" O'Donnell asked.
"I think that's what we've been educated on. Well, I may argue something differently. I've seen really strong, physically-fit guys that, you know, would be the definition of health, that are the ones that are injured the most.
"If I can keep my muscles pliable, I can hopefully, you know, limit the intensity or limit the injury altogether, if I do absorb some of these forces."
On average, a professional football player lasts just six years in the NFL. Compare that to Brady, who is two games into his 18th season. He credits his longevity to a more holistic approach to fitness.
He credits pliability with helping him prevent injuries. He says it's not just for athletes, but for everybody. "You know, everyone could do this. My parents can do it. My sisters can do it. I mean, I did pliability this morning on my son, whose leg was sore -- he's eight years old."
It is an entirely different way to look at athleticism, and is a philosophy Brady adopted after meeting longtime trainer and business partner Alex Guerrero, whom he describes not as a body coach, but a "body engineer."
"When my elbow was in pain basically every day, Alex through his treatments (this was in 2004), he started lengthening and softening all the muscle in my forearm," Brady said. "And it took away the tension in the muscle. And I was like, 'God, that makes so much sense.'"
He says pliability can be achieved in part by a lot of band work. "Band work will, I would say, increase your strength while limiting the density of the muscle. The denser the muscle means the less pliable it is."
Brady's sports therapy center, in Foxborough, Mass., doesn't look like an average gym. Ninety percent of the training is done with flexible resistance bands, followed by very specific massage techniques to focus on problem areas of the body.
"I would say I'm faster now and quicker now than, you know, when I first started playing football, even in high school," Brady said.
O'Donnell laughed: "All my friends who are moms are going to be saying to their husbands, like, 'Tom Brady is better at 40 than what he was at 18,'" resulting in a lot of bands under the Christmas tree.
"There should be!" Brady laughed.
He says his goal is to continue to play into his mid-forties.
Does his wife, Gisele Bündchen, agree with that? "I think we go back and forth," Brady said. "She'll always say to me, 'Well, ten years ago, you told me it was only gonna be ten years. And now it's ten years, and now you're saying another, you know, five years.'"
O'Donnell asked, "Do you worry about concussions?"
"I don't worry about 'em, no," he replied. "I mean, I'm not oblivious to 'em. Some of my idols had to retire because of head injuries.
"Yeah, I'm conscious of it, but I also love the sport so much and I want to keep playing. And I'm gonna do everything I can to take care of my body in advance of the, you know, of the hits that I'm gonna take on Sunday."
For more info:
- "The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance" by Tom Brady (Simon & Schuster); Available via Amazon
- TB12 Center at Patriot Place, Foxborough, Mass.