JJ Watt Workout Routine & Diet Plan

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: November 20, 2023
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Professional athletes don't get their perfect bodies by eating junk food and hitting the gym once in a while.

The NFL legend, JJ Watt, may seem to be constantly eating and still having a ripped physique. Since this is the dream for many of my clients, I decided to do detailed research and share with you Watt's diet and workout routine that brought him to the top!

Short Bio

Justin James Watt, born in Wisconsin, US, has a very similar story to many athletes, including bodybuilders that I've met or come across; showing interest in sports at an early age and shining all through high school.


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A post shared by JJ Watt (@jjwatt)

Besides football Watt also won multiple awards in track and field, baseball, and basketball.

His awards include three-time Sporting News’ Defensive Player of the Year, five-time Pro Bowl selection, 2017 Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year, and six times appearances in the Top 100 players.

4 Workout Tips

JJ Watt doing an intense cardio

At 6' 5 and 290lbs, Watt may be eating all the time, but he trains like a beast to stay in the best shape. I often share Watt's dedication in my training sessions to inspire my clients to push to their limits.

Every aspect of his workout routine excites him — from muscle activation drills to foam rolling.

Like I always advise my clients, If something is working for you, stick with it. Watt has maintained most of the workout routines that have proven successful for him since high school, including his trainer — Brad Arnett.


1. J.J Watt Listens to His Body

One of the most essential things Watt does when it comes to training is listening to his body and adjusting his workouts, so everything works at optimum levels.

This attentiveness to his body signals allows him to avoid injuries, prevent overtraining, and continuously optimize his fitness regimen, a practice that I emphasize with my clients for long term success.

In return, it has allowed him to achieve incredible stats. He can bench 225lbs 34 times, squat with over 700lbs, and flip a 1000-pound tractor tire.

Moreover, Watt also has a 61-inch vertical jump.

2. Watt Trains Like a Beast

Watt is serious about his workouts, as his gym sessions last about 90 minutes. You don't have to train for that long, as long as you're doing it intensively and consistently, you're good to go. This is a principle that I always encourage my clients to follow for comprehensive fitness.

The footballer first starts with stretching on a roller foam, then he does footwork, and finally moves on to resistance bands.

3. Strong Core is Essential

Watt suffered a severe back injury a couple of years ago, but he focused a lot on strengthening his core even before the accident. He puts even more emphasis on it now.

Even though his daily 20-minute plan changes very often, Watt typically does plenty of dead bugs and planks, including single-arm, single-leg, with a 20kg plate strapped to his back and his feet elevated six inches.

I've done some of these core workouts myself and even incorporated them in my clients' routines. They're quite effective for developing strong abs.

4. Recovery is as Important as a Good Workout

Watt’s workouts are pretty rough, so he makes sure to stretch well and allow his muscles to recover so he can stay in top form. As I always emphasize with my clients, post-workout care is crucial for sustaining peak performance.

This includes traditional stretching and advanced recovery techniques like cryotherapy and deep tissue massage that ensure he's game-ready.

J.J Watt’s Weekly Workout Routine

man lifting a barbell while laying down

Warm-ups help raise Watt's body temperature before an actual workout and decrease the likelihood of taining-related injuries.

Beyond the physical warm-ups, Watt also dedicates time to prepare mentally, often engaging in visualization techniques to mentally gear up for the challenges ahead.

1. Watt’s Upper Body Workout Routine

"A strong upper body is essential for anything from good posture and daily activities like putting the groceries away, to injury prevention and more,"

- Allen Conrad, Owner of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, Pennsylvania

Having a strong upper body, including the core, will lower your chances of injury and help you recover faster if you happen to injure yourself. Having in mind Watt’s herniated disc, I understand why he puts so much emphasis on a strong core.

His upper body workout typically includes:

  • Shoulder pack roll: 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Incline bench press: 4 sets of 10, 5, 3, then 5 reps
  • Dumbbell floor press: 8 sets of 8 reps
  • Fat-bar pull-up: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Superset with chest-supported y-bar rows: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Chest-supported t-bar rows: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Superset with straight-arm lat pulldown: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • TRX arm curl: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Superset with band or cable external rotation: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Tempo run: 8 sets, 40 yds at 75% max speed

2. Watt’s Lower Body Workout Routine

shirtless man working out using a kettlebell

Being an NFL star means having a strong lower body. Speeding through the hole, hurdling over the opponents, and breaking through defenders can’t be done without a strong lower body.

To achieve explosiveness and master quick movements, Watt also works hard on his legs.

His workout includes:

  • Safety bar box squats: 6 sets of 3 reps
  • Safety bar chaos reverse lunges: 3 sets of 6–8 reps per leg
  • Partner-assisted dynamic kettlebell swings: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Litvinov prowler sprints: 6 sets of 20 yards

Post-Workout Care

After a strenuous workout, Watt makes sure he cools down his muscles properly and adds more stretching and foam roller.

Sleep as a Remedy

Watt believes sleep is nature's best recovery tool, so he tries to get as much sleep as possible. He's so serious about sleep, that he even has a "work bed" at the NRG stadium.

After a long day of practice, gym, and football matches, Watt loves going straight home for a nice rest, a principle I always encourage my clients to embrace for enhanced athletic performance and general well-being.

JJ Watt's Diet Plan

scoop of freshly cooked pasta

As a defensive player, Watt needs a lot of calories to build mass and strength. His breakfast alone has about 900 calories, while he eats upwards of 5,000 calories a day.

"I'm not strict on my calorie count, I just pay attention to my body. Over the years I've learned a lot about nutrition and about myself, so it's a lot more based on feel. I stopped putting a number on it because people were analyzing it too much."  

- JJ Watt, Texans' Defensive End

Watt has two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners. All of his meals are huge, but still, Watt eats clean, natural, and whole foods, such as eggs, chicken breasts, oatmeal, and lots of veggies.

Watt used to eat even more. 9,000-calorie diet to be precise. He was eating a semi-paleo, semi-keto diet rich in fats like bacon, olive oil, and avocados while consuming fewer carbs and eating only natural, whole carbs, such as sweet potatoes.

I don't advise my clients to adopt this kind of diet unless they're athletes or want to build mass. It all depends on your fitness goals.

1. Rich Breakfasts

two opened bananas

As I mentioned, Watt's breakfasts consist of 900 calories. He eats oatmeal for his first breakfast and 4–5 eggs, a banana, and an apple for the second breakfast.

2. Loaded Lunches

For his lunches, Watt feasts on chicken breasts (typically three pieces), whole wheat pasta with Italian dressing, carrots, and mashed sweet potatoes

3. Protein-Fest Dinners

Lamb chops with whole wheat pasta and steamed asparagus are just a part of Watt’s dinners. For his second dinner, JJ usually eats a steak filet with steamed broccoli and more pasta.

4. No Cheat Meals

Taking into account that Watt needs to eat over 5,000 calories a day, he really has no need for cheat meals. Though he tries his best to eat clean, his favorite “cheat” meal is Crunch Berries cereal.

Foods JJ Watt Eats:

  • Oatmeal
  • Eggs
  • Fruit
  • Wheat bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • Chicken breast
  • Vegetables
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Lamb
  • Steak
  • Whole wheat pasta

Foods JJ Watt Avoids:

  • Processed foods
  • Refined sugar
  • Junk food
  • Starchy ‘white’ carbs
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Dairy


man chugging a jug of supplement drink

Even though JJ Watt tries to keep his supplement intake low, anyone trying to build muscle mass takes several supplements ranging from whey protein, creatine, BCAA's for men, and more.

As a fitness trainer, I've seen the benefits of these supplements firsthand and often recommend them to clients looking to enhance their muscle growth.

If you’d like to put on some weight quickly, I’d recommend trying protein powder to help build some muscle mass.

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2 thoughts on “JJ Watt’s NFL Workout Routine & Diet Plan

  1. JJ Watt working out pumps me up. Just the right inspiration to start my workout routine.

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