This isn’t how DeMarcus Ware wanted the morning to go. It’s 6:30 when he strides into his personal gym in Trophy Club, Texas, already a half hour behind on a crowded schedule.
His eyes dart from a clock to a tread-mill to his Jammer (a steel cage with two giant handles), then back to the clock. He nods his shiny, bald head. “We all make time for what’s important,” Ware says, collapsing to the floor and bending his knee into a quad stretch. “And I need this. It’s my 45 minutes before the chaos of the day.”
And it’s Ware’s only chance to unleash his own chaos, a daily dose of physicality he’s maintained since he retired from the NFL in 2017. During his 12 seasons in the league, as a pass-rushing star for the Dallas Cowboys and a Super Bowl winner with the Denver Broncos, the linebacker spent his days hurling his six-foot-four, 260-pound frame at opponents.
Ware did it as well as anyone, finishing eighth on the NFL’s career sack list. But these days, the job is less about muscle, more about megawatt smiles. At 37, he’s early into his second career, rebranding himself as equal parts OG fitfluencer Shaun T and Good Morning America’s Michael Strahan. In 2018, he competed on Dancing with the Stars. He also makes occasional appearances on NFL Network, flying wherever the Cowboys play to talk about his old team.
It’s a new world Ware loves, but tackling is unnecessary roughness here. When you spent more than a decade living for the next hit, meetings are instant boredom. Ware often fidgets during sit-down meetings—and after this workout, his day is full of them. He checks in with his team about his new iOS fitness app, Driven 2 Win, and he takes calls for various video projects. Before all that, it helps to hit, well, something. “This,” Ware says, “has replaced football as my physical outlet. I’m not able to be out there competing like I used to against the guys anymore. So I do this.”
He’s hoping to transform that outlet into a business. Since leaving football, he’s built an Instagram following that’s approaching 1 million—and although some beg him to get back into his cleats, many also want an ex–NFL badass’s training advice. He delivers with regular IG workouts as well as his new app, and he just got certified as a personal trainer himself. He already works with a handful of one-on-one clients out of his gym, and by this spring he’ll open the space to the public under the name 3Volt. (He has
an afternoon meeting about that today, too. Yes, that means more sitting.)
His morning workouts double as a testing ground for exercises he’ll use in 3Volt training sessions. “Everybody wants to be fit,” says Ware. “Now I can be a captain in their lives after motivating my teammates and being a champion on the football field. I want to train and teach them how to get the right mindset to go tackle the day.”
But right now he just really wants to tackle that Jammer. His head already dotted with sweat, he makes his way over to the cage, wedges his broad-shouldered frame between its handles, squats backward, then, like a coiled spring, explodes forward. The Jammer rattles, the sound reverberating through his 5,000-square-foot space.
He grinds out three sets and follows those up with dumbbell rows, medball slams, tire flips, and dumbbell curls. Finally, he jogs to the treadmill, finishing off his workout with ten 15-second all-out sprints. After the last one, he steps off the machine, heaving. “Now I can go out and tackle the day.”
The Break of Brawn
When Ware hits the road, he ditches his gym grind for a light-speed bodyweight circuit that he can do in his hotel room. Give it a try.
Do 3 or 4 rounds. Rest for 1 minute after each round.
Set up in a forearm plank, abs and glutes tight. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Want more of a challenge? Add an alternating reach, lifting 1 hand in front of you; keep your hips and shoulders square as you do this.
Set up in pushup position, wrists slightly wider than shoulder width, abs and glutes tight. Bend at the elbows and shoulders, lowering your chest until it’s an inch from the floor; take 3 seconds to do this. Pause for 2 seconds, then explode back up. That’s 1 rep; do 15. Struggling? Place your hands on a chair or bed to make it easier.
Pause Reverse Lunge
Stand with your feet together, chest up and abs tight. Step back with your left leg, then lower into a reverse lunge. Keep lowering until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Pause and hold for 1 second, then push off your right leg and stand back up, squeezing your glutes. That’s 1 rep; do 15 per side.
Single-Leg Chair Squat
Stand with your back to a chair, left foot off the floor. Bend your right knee and push your butt back, slowly lowering your butt to the chair. Put both feet on the floor and stand back up. That’s 1 rep; do 15 per side.