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How Vikings' Kyle Rudolph is staying in shape: 250 push-ups a day, some with kids on his back

Terez Paylor
Senior NFL writer

All things considered, this is typically a restful time of year for the Minnesota Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph.

It’s late March, which means he’s still smack dab in the middle of the NFL offseason, a time when players get a break from the game. Rudolph loves football, so he doesn’t want to be away too far.

“I go to the [team] facility and pretty much have the whole place to myself this time of year,” said the 30-year-old tight end and two-time Pro Bowler. “I'm able to get a really good run in, a really good lift in and it's kind of my time away from the house.”

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted Rudolph’s training plan. Due to the ease with which the dangerous virus spreads, both NFL team facilities and local gyms all over the country have closed, complicating the training patterns for all NFL players and causing teammates in many cities to turn to each other for advice on how to stay in shape. 

“Guys [are] just kind of bouncing ideas off each other like, ‘Hey what are you doing? This is what I have, this is what I have access to,’” said Rudolph, a Vikings team captain. “How can I make this work? How can I get the most out of this? What do you have access to? What are you able to do?’”

For Rudolph, the answer to the question has been, at least in part, a return to old-school methods he used over a decade ago, long before he became a millionaire pro athlete.

“I did a lot of pushups, a lot of sit-ups [then],” said Rudolph, who recently challenged himself to 250 pushups every day. “I ran around the neighborhood, I ran in the yard. You try to find a park or an open field. And that’s kind of what I resorted to.”

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 02: Minnesota Vikings Kyle Rudolph and wife Jordan pose for photos on the red carpet at the NFL Honors on February 2, 2019 at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Training with the kids

Rudolph noted that he is fortunate enough to be in a different financial situation than he was before the pros. For that reason, Rudolph and his wife Jordan, who live in the Twin Cities year round, recently made a donation to Second Harvest Heartland that will provide 82,000 meals to needy Minnesotans who are struggling due to the coronavirus.

The Rudolphs’ good fortune also allows them to own home fitness equipment, and soon they’ll add Tonal — a wall-mounted weight-lifting system with multiple workouts — to their home gym.

“My wife and I are super fired up —  we’re getting that installed today,” Rudolph said. “Then I’ll be able to do more strength training than just my pushups and sit-ups that I’ve been doing for the last week or so.”

The Rudolphs also have a Peloton — Kyle described Tonal as the Peloton of weightlifting, by the way — but noted his wife uses it way more than he does.

“My butt always hurts after doing those rides, so we have an Arc that I do my cardio on,” Rudolph said with a laugh.

Between Tonal, Peloton, pilates, and his old-school training methods that include resistance bands and at least 30 minutes of daily cardio, Rudolph should be set from a workout perspective, especially since he has remained in direct communication via email with Mark Uyeyama, the Vikings’ head strength coach, and Eric Sugarman, the team’s head athletic trainer.

“You have some guys that have some fitness equipment and you have some guys that have whole gyms in their house,” Rudolph said. “The variance is severe, but the common denominator is that guys are adapting and guys are still making sure [that] when the time comes, when we get back together, hey, I’m going to be physically ready.”

While there are some challenging aspects of having his training disrupted, there are some benefits to working out from home, with the biggest one simply being more quality time around his loved ones. 

“In such an uncertain time for so many families, we’re fortunate that the only uncertainty I have right now is, you know, entertaining my three kids under 4 on a daily basis — now I know why teachers of that age get paid so much money,” Rudolph joked.

All in all, Rudolph said, it has been fun having them near his workouts, many of which they even tag along for.

“They run around a bit and make it seem like they're training,” Rudolph said. “My [twin] girls are trying to learn how to do push-ups. It's hilarious trying to watch them do pushups as 3-year-olds.

“But it's been fun, in a way, to try to adapt and embrace that here at the house, whether it's having the kids running around when I'm trying to do cardio downstairs in our little fitness room, or having the kids out in the front yard watching me run up and down the slight incline we have in the street, [or] having the kids come over and sit on my back when I'm trying to do some push-ups ... It's been fun because oftentimes as a dad in the NFL, you get so lost in dedicating all your time and energy to football and training falls under that umbrella to where, when I'm training, it's all about training. So to have them around, it's kind of made it fun.”

Like everyone else, Rudolph doesn’t know how long this routine will last. All he and other NFL players can do is make the most of the situation until the pandemic comes to an end.

“It's definitely one of the most uncertain times, definitely, in my career and I would say for most people,” Rudolph said. “If anyone was to sit on here and tell you guys, 'Well I'm extremely confident that we're not going to have any issues come late July, August, September, when things are supposed to be really rolling for us,’ I wouldn't know how they're able to say that. 

“Obviously, I'm confident in the NFL and the decisions that each organization will make moving forward. I can just say that I hope it doesn't come to that. I hope this is something that, come midsummer time, we're all looking back and it's in the rearview mirror and we're on the other side of this.”

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