Dan Majerle Gives Fitness-Over-40 Tips

By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: Nov. 28, 2011

Former Suns All-Star Dan Majerle could have a million reasons for letting himself go physically. The 46-year-old Suns Ring of Honor member, who could easily live off of his stellar 14-year NBA career, manages four restaurants, is the parent of four kids, has pins in his ankles and has undergone multiple back surgeries.

And oh, by the way, he’s entering his fourth season as an NBA assistant coach: a job that consists of long hours, early mornings and even later nights. But despite all of those possible excuses for falling out of shape, "Thunder Dan" isn’t using any of them.

“I figure once you start feeling old and looking old, you get old,” Majerle said.

For Majerle, fitness has become a way of life. Since his junior year of high school in Traverse City, Michigan, Majerle knew that maximizing his physical potential would be an integral part to his success an athlete. As an NBA player, Majerle developed a reputation for his strength and fitness.

He became known for having the ability to defend the most athletic of 2-guards and the brawn to battle down low with power forwards. The 6-6 Majerle built a weight room in his house that matched the Suns’ fitness center.

As a teenager, he began a regimen of lifting weights and cardio training, habits that still exist with him to this day. Although the workout has changed over time, the fundamental ingredients have remained constant.

Instead of playing full seasons of professional basketball and receiving his fitness through his day job, Majerle has adjusted his lifestyle to becoming more like one of us. Maybe he’s not quite as desk-ridden as the average cubicle dweller, but as a coach, he’s spending a lot of time watching video and researching on the computer.

However, up until last year, Majerle still played on his sponsored Majerle’s Sports Grill rec basketball team. He is currently a member of a competitive baseball team and works out about 4-5 times a week early in the morning.

“I’ve been in shape my whole life so when I find I’m letting myself go, I don’t like how I feel,” Majerle said. “It’s not something I’m used to, so it makes more sense for me to stay in shape and keep active.”

This past year marked a significant change in his fitness regime. After six surgeries on his ankles and a few more on his back throughout the course of his life, Majerle had to close the book on full-court basketball.

To fulfill his competitive nature, baseball and golf tournaments will be his outlets from now on.

“Playing basketball just got to the point where it was too hard,” Majerle said. “I broke my finger and I just got be where I couldn’t go out there.

“There comes a point where you can’t play the way you want to play anymore, and it just got to be too hard getting out there and running up and down against 20-year-olds. Although I love the competition, I didn’t want it anymore as far as going out there and battling with them.”

Despite his absurdly athletic background, competitive spirit and renowned work ethic, Majerle has more in common with mere mortals than you might think: he doesn’t like working out either.

To avoid becoming bored and stagnant in his routine, Majerle breaks up his free weight exercises into certain body parts. One day he’ll perform arm and shoulders exercises, the next day he’ll focus on his back and chest, and then he’ll work on his legs and abs to round everything out.

Due to the toll that his NBA career put on his body, Majerle has adjusted his workout by lowering the amount of weight he lifts and has increasing the amount of repetitions.

“I try to do 10-12 reps, but sometimes I’ll just try to get eight,” he said. “But the last thing I want to do is injure myself so that I can’t work out at all.”

In addition to lifting weights 3-4 times a week, Majerle will try to do at least 30 minutes of cardio a day. The former NBA All-Defensive Team member bought a stair climber for his house so he could watch TV while he works out.

If he's crammed for time, he'll perform some body-weight exercises during commercials of a show he's watching. Majerle will either crank out some sit-ups or utilize a push-up/pull-up bar for some extra work.

The current Suns assistant coach is very consistent, hardly ever going two or three days without some sort of physical activity. In addition to exercising, Majerle credits his diet for maintaining an athletic physique.

“I can really see it when my diet goes bad, especially when you get over 40,” Majerle said. “It’s hard to maintain looking how you want to look, so the biggest thing with me is making sure I have a good diet.”

When he’s by himself or on the road, Majerle is disciplined with his meals. He utilizes his time with his kids to satisfy his cravings, such as pizza and potato chips, giving him a nice built-in time for cheating.

In order to keep the defined look meant for magazine covers, Majerle said it all comes down to nutritional plan. His caloric intake is high in protein, with very little coming in the form of complex carbohydrates.

Hailing from the Midwest, Majerle still enjoys steaks, burgers without buns, chicken and turkey. Once in a while he’ll drink a protein shake, but besides the multi-vitamins the training staff gives to the players, Majerle doesn't use supplements in his diet.

“I try to stay away from any kind of bread, especially white bread,” he said. “I hardly eat any kind of pasta, but I try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. For me, I mainly eat protein and stay away from bad fat.”

So whenever he’s at one of his restaurants, Majerle will order the chicken sandwich without the bun or one of the many salads.

“The worst thing is that the bun tastes so great,” he said. “That’s what I hate, but I try to eat everything without bread.”

Like most people, Majerle would prefer to eat whatever he wants and avoid the gym at all costs. But his discipline allows him to make choices that keep him in incredible shape: choices no different from the ones that every one of us face everyday.

So knowing that someone like Majerle is more like the rest of us should have a profound affect on our lifestyles. At the very least, it should force us to have to come up with a much better excuse of why we're not in shape.

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