How Victor Cruz Trains Earlier and Smarter to Stay On Top of His Game

Victor Cruz‘s forehead is dotted with sweat, and his hands are on his knees. And here’s the scary part: He’s only 20 minutes into his early-morning workout at NJ Home Field Advantage, with an hour’s worth of lifting and sprints on the horizon.

Cruz shakes off the fatigue to do another sprint—and suddenly doesn’t look so tired. He still looks like an NFL wide receiver, all sinewy, muscled arms with thick calves exploding in his high socks, a barrel chest, and an ultra square jawline.

In so many ways, this morning sweat session is no different from the ones he had in his years with the New York Giants (2010 to 2016). Except at age 32, Cruz is now in his second career, as a broadcaster. This fall, he’ll spend more than 70 days at ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Connecticut, working his first full year as an NFL analyst. It’s a gig with no bench press requirement, but that hasn’t stopped him from maintaining his A.M. routine. Most days, like this one, that means working with Sean Donellan, the trainer who kept him in shape throughout his seven NFL seasons.

“I don’t have football and the NFL weight room and that regimen anymore,” Cruz says. “So being able to come in and move around and train, that’s a good feeling.” He weighs around 200 pounds now, just five pounds lighter than his playing weight, and he doesn’t weight-train as hard or as frequently as he once did.

Steven Counts

But his workouts still bring balance and structure to his fast-paced current life. Cruz appears on three shows, NFL Live, Get Up!, and SportsCenter, so he has to get to know three studio crews and casts, plus prep talking points and football insights for each. It’s a new hustle with a new goal: Cruz eventually wants his own ESPN segment. “Maybe me and two other people,” he says. “It’s the dream gig.”

That’s where the workouts come in. Every session reminds him that he needs to keep working hard. “If I’m getting ready to be in a tuxedo that night, I still feel like I’m gearing up for something,” he says. “I’m going to be ready for whatever’s coming. I don’t want to lose that. That’s my edge.”

He used to hone that mindset on Sundays. Cruz broke in with the Giants in 2010 as one of the NFL’s most electric receivers, celebrating every TD with a salsa move and fueling New York’s Super Bowl XLVI run. It was a quick rise that landed him in a pair of Pro Bowls and a shout-out on LeBron’s Twitter. But he was never the same after a 2014 knee injury. In August 2018, he announced his retirement from football.

Steven Counts

Cruz sharpens his edge in the mornings whether he’s working with Donellan or not. When he’s away from his home in Jersey, he builds bodyweight circuits of dips, pullups, and pushups, just so he can break a sweat. When he’s on vacation, he goes for an early run or looks for a playground basketball court to shoot around. But these particular sessions are his favorites. Today, he brought his sister (and sometime training partner) Briana Thevenin, and between sets of lunges, sprints, and bear crawls, he returns to his NFL roots and talks trash.

After an hour of conditioning, it’s time for bench presses and squats. This is where his workout has changed most. As a player, he squatted 500 pounds and bench pressed 225; now he does goblet squats with 100 pounds and benches 185. “I’m not trying to kill myself,” he says.

He wraps up with a single-arm bodyweight row on a single gymnastics ring, designed to destroy his back and core. It’s a move he’ll feel the next day, and maybe the one after that—which is exactly the way he wants it.

“I enjoy that feeling I get when I’m done, and then that next-day soreness, and the day after you’re more sore, and then you crave that feeling again,” he says. “That’s the part I like.”

Break of the Brawn

Want to move like Cruz? Then start every workout with this 5-minute, 3-exercise sequence that’ll stretch and strengthen your hip flexors and glutes.


Do each exercise back-to-back with no rest, then switch legs. Keep toes on the straight leg pointed up through-out. Do 2 sets per leg.

Steven Counts

Supine Hip Flexion


Hip Circumduction

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