When Gordy Gronkowski, owner of G&G Fitness, sits down to watch NFL football over the next few days, he’ll need a really comfortable chair. With three -- count them three -- sons suiting up for different NFL teams, he might be watching all day Sunday, as well as Monday night.
The Gronkowski boys -- Rob (New England Patriots, tight end), Dan (Denver Broncos, tight end) and Chris (Dallas Cowboys, fullback) -- are the first three brothers since 1992 to play in the NFL at the same time.
That they all ended up making it to football’s highest echelon was not truly a fluke, the brothers told SNEWS®. They credit their success to the fact that their father trained them at a young age to exercise properly.
Smart training started early
“We probably started working out at 13, 14 years old,” said Chris Gronkowski, the middle brother (photo - below right). “He wanted to make sure we had our form down first before we started doing anything heavy. He wanted to make sure we were getting stronger, but not hurting ourselves.”
Gordy told SNEWS that when the boys were in middle school, he had a gym in the basement of the family house where he invited his sons to work out with him once he saw they were interested in sports. Having played college football at Syracuse, Gordy knew the commitment it would take to excel in football. He said he told his sons, “If you want to play, I can get you there, but here’s what you’ll have to do. Of course, I wasn’t going to force it on them, and I said if they wanted to go another route, that was fine too.”
The boys all bought in, and they began working out with their father three to four times a week during their eighth-grade school year.
“He kept us at very low weight but high reps, because we were still growing, and he didn’t want to hurt our joints,” said Dan Gronkowski, the oldest (photo - left). Dan added that he and his brothers were fortunate because then, before the Internet flourished, kids had a much more difficult time finding information on how to train properly.
Chris told SNEWS that most kids in middle school and high school knew very little about weight training. “At the time, a lot of kids were just doing what they thought was right, and didn’t really have any idea of what to do,” he said. “They would just bounce around from machine to machine. We had set routines and had the techniques. There were definitely lifts our dad wanted us to do, and ones he didn’t want us to do, because he thought they could hurt us.”
Not only did Gordy, still a workout enthusiast who practices what he preaches as a part of running the New York-based specialty store (www.livefit.com), teach his sons how to lift, but he also hooked them up with a speed coach when they were in ninth and 10th grades. “We had what we called speed camp,” said Chris. “Four days a week, we would do agility drills and conditioning drills, and do explosive movements. We did that for two years, and it definitely helped out.”
The Gronkowski brothers said their weight training and speed training paid dividends in college. “When I went into college, some of the guys didn’t have any running form,” said Rob, the youngest (photo - right), who attended the University of Arizona. “I was way ahead of them and I had basically all of my muscle tone. Most people had 20 to 30 more pounds they could put on.”
Chris said that when he was a freshman on the University of Maryland’s football team, he had the sixth-highest strength index, which is determined by a person’s weight and how much they can lift.
Ironically, Rob said that college coaches are now preaching what his father was teaching years ago. “Football today is about having speed and being in shape. Lifting to where you’re strong, but also keeping your body trim and being able to run,” he added.
Of course, things were very different when Gordy was training with the Syracuse football team in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
“It has come so far now. My first three years at Syracuse, we didn’t even have a strength coach. I think they have three on staff now,” said Gordy, adding that he had little guidance on workout routines. “I would bench four or five times a week, and I worked out three hours a day just with weights,” he said. “I could bench 480 pounds, but I blew my shoulder apart.”
Over time, he would also blow out a chest muscle, as well as both knees. When he saw that his sons wanted to be football players, he didn’t want them to suffer the same injuries. “When I was in college, it was ‘no pain, no gain,’ said Gordy. “I wish I knew then what I know now.”
To keep up with the latest on the Gronkowski brothers, go to www.gronknation.com.