A picture of Jameis Winston taken in January of 2015 immediately set the internet ablaze.
At that time, Winston was going through a training session in Florida to prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft. In the photo, Winston, standing with a football in his hand while a trainer pulled a resistance band tied around his waist, appeared to have what is commonly known as a jelly belly. His stomach protruded outward, spilling over the band tied around his waist. Whether it was reality or just a bad angle, an "Is Jameis Winston fat?" narrative sprang up instantaneously.
While the "fat" assessment was unfair, no one would ever confuse Winston with, say, Robert Griffin III in terms of his body type. Winston has always looked like he never quite shed all of his baby fat. During the 2015 NFL season, his rookie year, he weighed more than 240 pounds, putting him squarely in Big Ben territory. And while Winston performed well as a rookie, throwing for 4,042 yards, the third-most ever for a rookie, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback says he knew he'd have to cut weight if he wanted to take his game to the next level. So in his first complete NFL off-season, Winston linked up with Tim Grover, the world-renowned trainer who's best known for his work developing Michael Jordan and author of the bestselling book RELENTLESS and JUMP ATTACK.
Since February, Winston has been putting in work with Grover in Tampa, and the results are visible. According to Grover, Winston had to earn them from the very beginning. The trainer says the first workout he put Winston through was a long, grueling session, which Grover used as a barometer of how hard the quarterback really wanted to work.
"The first time we met, we got to work right away and did a full two hours, testing each other to see what we were each about," Grover told STACK. "He did everything I asked of him, and pushed himself to keep going even when I pushed harder.
"Most athletes show up to the first session thinking they're going to fill out some forms, talk about their history and goals, and find out what we're going to do next time. But if they're not ready to work, there won't be a next time," Grover continued. "I don't want to talk, I want to watch how they move and perform."
Grover says he spent much of his time with Winston working on footwork, flexibility and balance, three critical attributes for an NFL quarterback. Twice a day every day, Grover put Winston through challenging moves like the Tuck Jump to Split Landing, an exercise that builds explosive power, single-leg stability and deceleration—which helps him make better sudden changes of direction in the pocket. He also performed Band-Resisted Supermans, which strengthen his lower back and core, activate his glutes (that's why the resistance band is around Winston's ankles), and engage his lats.
"Most training programs address footwork, flexibility and balance as three separate things requiring three separate exercises," Grover said. "Not true. When you're playing your sport, you frequently need to execute all three of those skills simultaneously, at any given moment. If you're just training for one of those components, you're shortchanging yourself. So I'll design exercises for him that address all three areas."
When Tampa Bay's OTAs began, Winston and Grover scheduled workouts around the Buccaneers practices so they could continue to train together.
On top of Winston's workouts, Grover also tinkered with the quarterback's eating schedule. Winston had developed a penchant for snacking on chips late at night, according to ESPN, a habit Grover wanted to curb. Grover told Winston to eat his heaviest meal earlier in the day, then scale back later on. Winston complied, beginning his calorie consumption at 6 a.m. and slowing it down once the clock moved past 4 p.m.
"I'm not going to tell a 22-year-old he has to live on steamed fish," Grover said. "We introduce changes he can live with. Eliminate one food item (such as chips, ice cream, candy, etc), reduce portion sizes, eat more when the sun is up and less when the sun goes down and get on a consistent sleep schedule so you're not up in the middle of the night craving snacks."
Between his diet change and his workout schedule, Winston has already dropped 18 pounds this off-season. Grover wants him to lose about five more so he can enter the 2016 season weighing between 225 and 229 pounds, but Winston already looks slimmer and more muscular. It's a lot more difficult to apply the word "fat" to him.
"My body feels much better," Winston told ESPN. "When you're working out consistently and staying in shape, you never have to get in shape. That's the biggest thing."
For more from Tim Grover, follow him on Twitter: @attackathletics
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock