James Harrison's Workout & Diet (Pro Spills His Routine)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: June 21, 2024
FACT CHECKED by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
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Pittsburgh Steelers’ former linebacker James Harrison has a unique approach to training and games like no other player in his league.

He’s become famous for his Instagram workout videos showing the incredible amounts of weight plates he lifts even after retiring.

Here’s in-depth information all the fans want to know about James Harrison's workout regimen and nutrition.

Body Stats

  • Height: 6ft
  • Weight: 255lbs
  • Chest: 46in
  • Biceps: 16in
  • Waist: 34in

James Harrison Workout Routine

shirtless man doing sit ups

Now let’s dive deeper into more detailed information on Harrison’s workout routines that resulted in such massive power and success.

Harrison is very disciplined and hits the gym regularly five days per week between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Each of his training sessions is typically one hour long.


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A post shared by James Harrison (@jhharrison92)

man in a white shirt doing dumbbell workout

Despite his age, his weekly full-body workout schedule is grueling, and he dedicates each day to a particular muscle group:

  • Monday - Legs
  • Tuesday - Back and Chest
  • Wednesday - Core
  • Thursday - Shoulders
  • Friday - Arms (biceps and triceps)
  • Saturday - Rest to enhance muscle recovery
  • Sunday - Rest/pool workout

Almost everyone who has had access to his Instagram photos and crazy workout videos has seen the incredible amount of weights he lifts and can confirm that the powerlifting exercises he does look unreal to mere mortals.

man working out his legs in a gym

To generate more upper and lower body power and explosiveness than many other linemen from the opposite teams and build core strength and stability, Harrison performs the following exercises as a part of his regular workout plan:

  • Barbell bench presses
  • Single-arm shoulder presses
  • 1,100-pound leg presses
  • Weighted pull-ups
  • 700-pound squats
  • Dips with 200lbs of added weight

“No one works harder than James. He is one of the most powerful players in the NFL, and much of the credit can be attributed to his legendary workout regimen.”

- Garrett Giemont, Steelers’ Conditioning Coordinator

Many people think that heavy deadlifts are one of the secrets to his success.

However, Harrison’s approach to his daily workout plan might change based on the way he feels on a particular day. So, the order of exercises, exercise variation and format, and the set and rep numbers may vary from one workout to the following.

He always finds ways to keep every workout fresh and challenging enough.

During the offseason, Harrison plays a game called Danney Ball on the field.

Shaw, the trainer who supervises Harrison’s off-season workouts, ensures that this NFL star does the outdoor exercises such as distance running in the sand for tighter hips, stronger ankles, and greater stamina.

“One of the goals of Harrison’s off-season training is to get him out of the weight room and into the hot sun to sweat and to do sprints and intervals to build bursts of speed.”

- Tom Shaw, Harrison’s Performance Coach

In a nutshell, James Harrison has never followed the same workout plan as his other team players but has always done things in his unique way.

Here are a few exercise examples he performs for a different body part each day.

1. Core Workouts

man in a hanging abdominal position
  • Hanging abdominal windshield wipers - 2 sets of 30 reps
  • Ab rollouts - 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Dragon flags - 3-5 sets of 4-5 reps

2. Chest Workout

  • Barbell bench press - 10 sets of 1-10 reps
  • Barbell incline bench press - 10 sets of 10-1 reps
  • Bench press without legs (weight: 375lbs)
  • Negative-accentuated bench press (weight: 500lbs at the top, 405lbs at the bottom)

3. Leg Workout

A man doing belt squats
  • Barbell deadlift - 10 sets of 10-1 reps
  • Barbell back squats - 10 sets of 1-10 reps
  • Sumo belt squats (weight: 540lbs)
  • Hip thrusts (weight: 765lbs)
  • Sled push (weight: 1800lbs - equals the weight of approximately five big linemen)

James Harrison Diet

cooked fish in a plate, bowl filled with pills

This master on the football field fuels his grueling gym work with a healthy, natural, low-carb diet to maintain his physique and gain more strength and explosive power with each training session.

Harrison consumes organic products and foods rich in fiber, protein, and fats rather than simple carbs.

He doesn’t consume dairy products, gluten, white sugar, iodized salts, and caffeine.

When he’s recovering from the intense workouts, he also avoids using alcohol, processed foods, and even nutrient-dense nightshade veggies, probably because he believes they might increase the risk of inflammation.

He also takes protein supplements like whey protein.


James Harrison supplements his diet with three key products to support his body and meet his daily macro and micronutrient needs. These supplements are:

  • Whey Protein: Harrison typically consumes a whey isolate protein shake within an hour of his workout to promote protein synthesis.
  • Multivitamins: He takes a daily multivitamin to ensure he gets the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of every vitamin his body needs to be at its best.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: A daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement helps Harrison reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after a workout and promotes power during his workouts.

James Harrison's Career Highlights

Before his retirement from the NFL after 15 seasons as a 40-year-old footballer in May 2018, Harrison played for these teams:

  • New England Patriots (2017-2018)
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (2004-2013, 2014-2017)
  • Cincinnati Bengals (2013-2014)

According to ESPN, some of the most notable career stats of this linebacker include:

  • Sacks: 84.5
  • Solo tackles: 573
  • Total tackles: 793
  • Forced fumbles: 34
  • Interceptions: 8

And these are some of his record-breaking accomplishments:

  • NFL Linebacker of the Year (2008)
  • NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2008)
  • 4 times AFC Champion (2007-2010)
  • NFL Top 100 Players (2011, 2012)
  • Steelers All-Time Sacks Record-Holder (80.5)
  • Steelers All-Time Postseason Sacks Record-Holder (11)
  • NFL Super Bowl Record-Holder for Longest Interception Return for a Touchdown


How Is James Harrison So Strong?

James Harrison's strength is attributed to his rigorous training regimen, disciplined diet, and genetic makeup. His workouts focus on intense weightlifting and functional exercises, complemented by a protein-rich diet and consistent recovery practices, enhancing his physical prowess and endurance.

How Big Is James Harrison Biceps?

James Harrison's biceps are impressively large, measuring around 20 inches in circumference, showcasing his dedication to fitness and strength training throughout his successful career as a professional football player.

How Much Could James Harrison Lift?

James Harrison could bench press 525 pounds and squat 700 pounds, showcasing his exceptional power and physical prowess in weightlifting.

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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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2 thoughts on “James Harrison Workout Routine, Diet Plan & Supplements

  1. James Harrison’s lifting is amazing. He’s now in his 40s but still solid.

  2. James Harrison’s workout routine is straight hard work. James Harrison 2017 stats might be because of this routine. As they say, no pain, no gain.

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