On the night he was named the NFL’s youngest MVP in 35 years, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes thanked so many. God. His family. His friends. The Chiefs.
That was on Feb. 3, the day before Tom Brady and the New England Patriots — the group that ended the Chiefs’ season in the AFC championship game two weeks earlier — beat the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl.
Still fuming and fueled by the visual of that, Mahomes got back to work. Like, immediately. With a focus that impressed even Bobby Stroupe, Mahomes’s longtime trainer who runs Athlete Performance Enhancement Center, a training facility located near the star’s hometown of Whitehouse, Texas.
“The Wednesday after the Super Bowl, he was back — period,” Stroupe told Yahoo Sports. “He didn’t miss a workout, he was in there working, just like an undrafted rookie free agent.
“That has never changed with Patrick ... he’s never completely satisfied with where he’s at. That’s who he is.”
As such, it remains Stroupe’s job to help Mahomes get the most out of his prodigious talent during the offseason. It’s been that way since Mahomes was in the fourth grade, when Stroupe, now 38, first started working with his father Pat Sr., who was attempting a baseball comeback.
“Patrick and his dad, their body types are different — their athletic types are different,” Stroupe said. “His dad is more of a track body type, a fast-twitch athlete. His dad’s always had a different body shape, [and Patrick has] a little more reserved personality.”
So while part of Mahomes’ tremendous arm was inherited from his father, who played 11 years in the big leagues, Stroupe says Mahomes has worked to mold that talent into the sidearm-slinging, no-look throwing savant who plays with the savvy and skills of a veteran far beyond his 23 years of age.
“He’s definitely abnormal in the fact he can access ranges of motion and produce power from them, when other people would go to those ranges of motion and just break,” Stroupe said.
Mahomes practices the improbable throws he pulls off on the field, training his body to maximize his ability to make those passes.
“The biggest thing Bobby did is he watched how I played football, the different arm angles, the different launch points [I use] and how i’m in very awkward positions, and he decided that he was going to train me to strengthen those,” Mahomes told Yahoo Sports. “So he’ll put me in different, awkward angles, and we might do medicine balls, actual weights, and he’ll make me do certain lifts from those angles knowing that in the game, those are the angles I’ll be throwing at.”
Stroupe says he and Mahomes worked out for over a month between the Super Bowl and OTAs for two hours at a time, all with an emphasis on building muscle. He also says Mahomes is not the only quarterback who focuses on that core training tenet.
Brady, the bonafide G.O.A.T. of the Patriots, has also detailed his appreciation for building muscle tissue quality in his book “The TB12 Method,” which he wrote with his trainer Alex Guerrero.
And while Stroupe has not patterned Mahomes’s training program after Brady’s — Stroupe notes Mahomes is not following a “pliability track, per se”, rather an offseason program Stroupe created after years of research — he has learned that the two quarterbacks have similarities.
“There are a lot of things that Tom does that Patrick does, and the reason why I know that is because I met with [Brady’s longtime throwing coach] Tom House, and we discussed things in detail and we have a friendship,” Stroupe said. “... There are a lot of things that bleed over, and while I don’t call it ‘pliability’, I do believe in some of the concepts they’re focusing on.”
While Brady and Guerrero have pliability, Stroupe emphasizes with Mahomes “mostability”, a combination of the words mobility, stability and flexibility.
“It’s absolutely a core tenet of our training philosophy,” Stroupe said. “No question.”
And here’s why: For athletes to fully tap into their gifts, Stroupe argues they can’t just have flexibility in the muscle structures, mobility in the joints or stability in a range of motion. They must have a balance of all three.
“He produces power from so many different angles that you have to make sure his body has that mostability component through a lot of different movement factors,” Stroupe said.
“It’s got to be looked at like the tuner of a stereo, right? There’s got to be the proper amount of bass and treble and lows and highs for it to work, and that’s the same thing when you look at the balance of mobility, stability and flexibility in an athlete.”
Stroupe honed in on the concept after years as a young coach, when he was constantly seeing his athletes get stronger in the weight room and faster on the stopwatch, but they weren’t becoming better players.
Over the years, Stroupe has studied and pulled from many trainers and researchers he respects to form his beliefs.
“Well, we’re not doing arm curls,” Stroupe said with a laugh. “If it doesn’t contribute to a movement, it’s not going to be more than 15 percent of our program. I can promise you that.”
Stroupe also focused on the concept of “force absorption” — building the body to take a beating — with Mahomes this offseason.
All indications are that Mahomes’ work with Stroupe and the Chiefs’ strength staff has paid off. Stroupe says the 6-foot-3 quarterback reported for camp at around 227 pounds, down 8 from last year, and reported at around 11 percent body fat, down 1 percent from a year ago.
“His body has matured this offseason,” Stroupe said. “If you look at his face, he’s a man that’s a year older — he’s still growing up. I think he’s leaner. He’s put on muscle in the right places to be able to absorb more contact.”
Mahomes earned positive reviews for his improved physique in training camp, too, as he put on some lower-body muscle that should help his stability and overall strength as the Chiefs try to win their first Super Bowl since the 1969 season.
“He looks good right now,” Stroupe said. “Coming into this thing, he is more powerful, he is a better athlete, he is stronger … he is coming in better in every way that I could perceive than he was last year, and I think that’s been echoed in camp. I really do believe that.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that the reigning MVP’s trainer can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.
“I’m a big believer in how he prepared,” Stroupe said, “and God willing, I think it’s going to be a great season.”
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