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TB12 Tom Brady & Alex Guerrero

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Inside the TB12 ‘voodoo’ that helped Tom Brady win his 7th Super Bowl

Many factors (and players) contributed to the Bucs being Super Bowl LI champions ... but none of them had to do with witchcraft

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“How the hell does Brady keep on doing it???” is the most over-asked question in all sports — and winning his seventh Super Bowl title at age 43 just added fuel to the already scorching fire of speculation.

While we know that countless factors and people contributed to the Buccaneers hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl LV — and Brady subsequently chucking it from boat-to-boat across the Hillsborough River— some of that credit must go to the geniuses at TB12.

Not surprisingly, they’ve been getting a lot more new client calls since Feb. 7.

Brady launched the company in 2013 with Alex Guerrero, his longtime Body Coach and TB12 co-founder, by opening of the first TB12 Performance and Recovery Center in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Then the pliability-preaching pair brought their “voodoo” down to Tampa last summer so that Bucs fans could reap the benefits of their magic.

While Brady was no doubt still nursing the effects of his boat parade drink fest, we talked to TB12 Body Coach Matt Denning (who works with both Guerrero and Brady at the Performance and Recovery Center) about how the TB12 Method works — and to dispel the myths that it’s all about avocado ice cream and guzzling 37 gallons of water a day.

Bucs Nation: We’re all pretty familiar with the TB12 concept but can you explain it to someone who’s never heard of it before?
Matt Denning: It’s really a holistic approach to maximizing your performance for as long as possible. Not only does it help Tom make sure that at his age he can still play at an extremely high level, it works for regular people like myself and you to do whatever activities we want. It’s the combination of an anti-inflammatory plant-based diet, proper hydration, proper strength conditioning, and — most important of all which I’m sure you’ve heard Tom talk about — pliability work.

Tom and Alex at TB12

Yep, we’ve all seen Brady wearing t-shirts that simply say “PLIABILITY” — why is that so important to his performance, especially at his age?
As we age, we start to lose collagen in our fibers. So if you fall as a kid, you get right back up, but as you get older it takes you longer as we just don’t dissipate the forces as should when we age. So the big thing about pliability is not only “can we maximize that contraction,” but “we can also fully relax?” So whether it is the force of the thousands of steps you take in a day, or being hit by an NFL linebacker like Tom is — the more pliability you have, the more you can dissipate those forces correctly instead of them over-stressing your bones, joints and ligaments that aren’t meant to have those loads on. This helps prevent injury and improves performance to make sure Tom is still available to be on the field every Sunday.

What in layman’s terms does pliability work actually entail?
It’s a form of deep force manual therapy to lengthen out the tissues. There’s a lot of motion that goes along with it to rewire the nervous system to make that mind-body connection, so that your brain then knows, “OK, this is when you can fully relax, and then contract at maximum.”

TB12 client at work (this is not me!)/TB12

How do we achieve that if we don’t have someone like you or Alex to work with?
During the pandemic, we have really branched out our services for if you can’t see a body coach in person. We have different tools including vibrating spheres and a foot-long vibrating roller that uses your body weight to lengthen the tissue out and promote blood flow, while the vibrations stimulate the nervous system. You’re actually able to do what I do with my clients or what Alex does with Tom on yourself to make sure that you continue to be pliable, perform and recover as you should.

Is there anything Tom and Gronk did this season in Tampa that was different to when they were in New England?
As far as the daily routine – the hydration, workouts, recovery aspect — that is something that Tom’s done for a long time now. His habits are so ingrained now that he really just follows the method and that’s how he’s been able to stay so successful.

Did Alex go down with him to Tampa?
Yes. They both went down there and got to work right away.

Do you guys use the resistance bands primarily over any kind of other weight training?
It’s all very sports and activity specific. For a lot of our skilled positions like Tom, the training is very heavily involved in the band as we try to make sure he can move powerfully and explosively through a fluid range of motion. It’s still resistance training, right, so we’re still overloading a muscle to build strength — it’s just in a different form.

The benefit is that we can do more functional movement patterns like throwing motions with Tom so that he can develop more torque rotation, which you can’t really do with a dumbbell or barbell. Traditional weightlifting can also cause injuries if you’re not offloaded correctly, so the bands can be kind of another modality to continue to stay healthy, still continue to push towards your goals without some of the damage and injuries from other methods.

TB12 Boston Center/TB12
Getty Images for TB12

What about hydration? Obviously the climate in Tampa is very different than New England, especially in the summer. I remember Bruce Arians joking that Gronk was in “New England shape!” in August as the heat was kicking his ass.
Hydration is this is one of the most important things we talk about with all the clients right away as our bodies are made up of 75% of water so we need it for all the metabolic function. Water alone isn’t enough to make sure you’re adequately hydrated so we encourage an electrolyte solution — especially in a humid climate like Florida where you’re losing a lot more electrolytes through sweating.

We’ve all heard a lot of about Tom’s strict diet and weird eating habits over the years — what do you think are the biggest myths people have about the TB12 diet?
The first one people throw out is that they assume we’re a vegan company — even though a lot of our food is plant-based, we’re not so strict and we believe in everything in moderation. The more than you have the right foot forward and build the right habits to make sure that you are eating a proper plant-based and anti-inflammatory diet, the better chance of success. But if you go out and have a slice of pizza, it’s OK. Just not every day of the week.

We try to eat organic or natural as much as possible — you still need your proteins and things like that, so it is OK to have fish, chicken, some meats, etc. in the right situation — but it is very heavily plant-based because of all the health benefits that are backed by research throughout the years.

I know that Brady’s been working with Alex since at least like 2013 — when did Gronk get on the TB12 Method, and is he fully on it or just dipping his very large feet in it?
I think he first came here about five years ago, we worked with him after an injury for rehab then identified a lot of the imbalances in his symmetries that could be causing some of these issues he was having. We continued to work with him throughout an offseason. He’s a very smart guy and was able to adopt the diet and training. I think it’s a testament to him to play so well last season, stay healthy — and have fun doing it.

Was Gronk following TB12 when he was in retirement?
I think he got even more into it during that year of retirement — he pushed himself to be as healthy as possible in life in general. And he does a great job of making good decisions each and every day.

Speaking of retirement, Tom said a lot that he wanted to play until he was 45 … now it seems to be until infinity. Obviously TB12 is obviously very directly related to that and he doesn’t look like he’s slowly down anytime soon.
We agree. We love watching him play and he puts so much effort and heart into everything he does. He’s gonna play for as long as he wants. And he still played a very high level, so it’s fun for us to watch as well and be a part of.

Have you had a lot of other players either from the Bucs or just around the league wanting to get on TB12 Method, especially this year after Tom just defied all odds by winning the Super Bowl?
For a long time, we’ve worked with a lot of guys throughout the entire NFL especially after seeing the success he’s had. Tom’s continued health has been noticed by everyone! But also we get a lot of interest from regular people who see how he keeps performing at his age. And, you know, we really try to adapt to our clients personally every day.

What’s the easiest way for regular people to get involved in TB12?
If you’re local to one of our centers, we’re always open we see clients every day. But the easiest thing right now is our virtual sessions where you work with a body coach who gives you a taste of method and advice on how you can achieve your goals. We also have all of our performance and recovery supplements, performance gear like resistance bands, pliability rollers and spheres, and books. The whole idea is really to help as many people as possible and show them what Tom does every day, how he’s been successful, and how people can adapt to it.

Aside from the obvious celebrations on the boat parade, is this something Tom is doing every day still — there’s no real offseason for him when it comes to TB12?
Yeah, it is his lifestyle. You know, he’s our biggest ambassador, obviously, but this is how he lives his life.

He definitely seemed to enjoy himself on the Bucs boat parade though – does TB12 offer hangover advice too?
Definitely our hydration supplements! It was a great day of celebration and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

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