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August 12, 2020

Podcast No. 86: Kelvin Beachum, NFL Veteran

My guest this week is Arizona Cardinals left tackle Kelvin Beachum.

By Will Ahmed

Listen, review, subscribe.

Kelvin is one of the most thoughtful players in the NFL and an all-around fascinating guy. He details his journey from a 7th-round draft pick with no guarantees, to making it professionally and establishing himself as a starter in the league.

We discuss his use of visualization to help achieve his goals, what he’s learned about how to succeed in his career and in life, and why he’s always thinking about what comes next after football. Kelvin made last year’s Forbes 30 under 30 list and is one of the most tech-savvy athletes in sports. He was an angel investor in WHOOP and talks about why he uses it in every aspect of his life.

I know you’ll enjoy this conversation. Stay healthy and stay in the green!

Kelvin Beachum Podcast Show Notes:

3:10 – Picking Football Over Basketball. “The goal was to be a professional basketball player. I loved basketball, I still love basketball, but it came to a point in time where I had an AAU coach who said, ‘Kelvin, there are more scholarships for people on the football field than there are on the basketball court.’ … I took his advice and started [taking football more seriously] and started really researching what an offensive lineman looked like, what I needed to do to be successful.”

4:03 – Body Transformation. “I think when I was playing high school football on varsity, I might have been 230 lbs or 240 lbs. … I went into college at 245 or 250 lbs. Compared to high school, that’s a big person, but when I got into the college ranks, that was considered small. I put on a massive amount of weight in a short amount of time.” Kelvin is now listed at 308 lbs.

5:12 – Putting on Playing Weight. “It got to the point where I was probably going through a loaf of bread a day just with sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly. It was hard for me to put on weight and keep it on. I had a very high metabolism. Even when I got into the [NFL] … it was very hard for me to keep the weight on and want to eat, I got tired of eating.”

6:45 – Workout Programs. Kelvin details what types of workouts he does to prepare for the rigors of playing offensive line in the NFL, and shares why he’s doing more mobility work than before.

9:00 – Offseason vs. Regular Season Workouts. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I have to get stronger as the season progresses. I consider my career, the way that I train, the way that I prepare as a crescendo to the end of the season. It’s this steady, slow crescendo towards the end of the season.”

10:05 – How WHOOP Fits. “WHOOP is what I use in every piece of my life. Sleep, strain, recovery, I pay attention to all of that.”

11:50 – Tracking Sex with WHOOP. “I’ll tell my wife, ‘Look, I was in the green, you know what we did last night. Thank you!’ … I’ve had some of my best workouts from making love in the morning before I workout. I kid you not. I think it’s almost priming your body for strain.”

13:23 – Prescription Drug Use in the NFL. “I try to stay away from a lot of supplementation during the offseason because we’re on so much medication during the season. I want to allow my body to rest. … There have been times where I’ve had to take a lot of medication just to get through the season or as the season wanes on. Your body is just banged up. I try to dial it back, take a step back [during the offseason]. … Once the season is over, I go cold turkey. If I had any type of medication that was left over, I flush it down the toilet.”

18:10 – Concussions and CTE. “I haven’t even seen the movie Concussion yet because I don’t want to see it until I’m done playing football. That’s something that I just don’t want to process or even have to think about at this point in time in my career.”

18:57 – Recovery Techniques. “I’ve done everything under the sun. Huge into acupuncture, huge into chiropractic. … Ice baths, hot tub, cold tub, that’s a daily routine.”

19:51 – Day in the Life of an NFL Player. Kelvin walks Will through what a typical Wednesday practice day looks like during the NFL season.

22:23 – Avoiding Red Recoveries. “Sleep is the most important thing that I look for. What happened for me to get in the red? Did I go to bed late? What did I eat last night?”

26:27 – Taking Care of Your Body. “Your body is your temple. I had a coach in college that talked about there were certain things he wouldn’t put in his temple. He wasn’t putting alcohol in his temple, he wasn’t putting fried foods in his temple. Your body is your temple, that’s all that you have. For us, as professionals, if your body isn’t working, you can’t go perform. If you can’t go perform, you can’t put food on the table. This is your job, this is your livelihood, if you’re not taking care of your livelihood, which is your body, you won’t be in professional sports for a long time.”

28:33 – Using Visualization. “It can be very deep for me sometimes. It’s like I can feel and sense how it’s going to feel. For instance, I love playing in Baltimore, Baltimore is a fantastic stadium. We played them on Thursday Night Football and it’s almost like deja vu because you’ve dreamt of being in that stadium performing. [It’s like] you’ve been there before. … It’s not only just football, it’s visualizing the family, it’s visualizing success off the field in business. It’s almost like you’re creating your reality with the visualization.”

30:49 – Performing in the Moment. “How do you handle being in a stadium of 60,000 or 90,000? It comes to a point where it’s just you and your craft. Who cares about who’s screaming? Who cares about what your coach has to say? You hear the play from your quarterback, you hear the signal from your center, you hear the communication from your left guard, but at the end your mind is focused on your craft. It gets to the point where I couldn’t care less who the defender is.”

32:24 – Learning From Experience. “After I had my injury (a torn ACL) in 2015, it caused me to think about the game much deeper than I was. Early on in my career, I relied so much on being a good athlete, being young, talent, bouncing back. The bounce-back time when I was 24 is a lot different than the bounce-back time at 30 and that’s just 6 years. I look at how things were years ago and how things are now and it’s the mental aspect of the game that’s really transcended my athleticism by light years.”

35:15 – Embracing the Present. “We have this thing in football. We talk about, ‘Be where your feet are.’ You really try to just embrace that moment. Whatever that moment is, you embrace that moment. When you get the next moment, you embrace that moment. You’d be surprised, those slight edges and small wins … that stuff starts to add up and you build something really, really special.”

40:27 – Connect with Kelvin on Twitter @KelvinBeachumJr, Instagram @KelvinBeachumJr and LinkenIn: Kelvin Beachum.

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Will Ahmed

Will Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of WHOOP, which has developed next generation wearable technology for optimizing human performance. WHOOP today works with everyone from professional athletes to fitness enthusiasts to executives. Ahmed has raised nearly $100 million from top investors and has an active advisory board that consists of some of the world’s most notable cardiologists, technologists, and designers. He wrote “The Feedback Tool: Measuring Fitness, Intensity, and Recovery,” which sparked the underlying physiology and engineering for his work today. Ahmed was named a 2011 Harvard College Scholar for finishing in the top 10% of his class and a CSA Scholar Athlete; he captained the Harvard Men’s Varsity Squash Team. He was also recently named to Forbes 30 Under 30 and Boston Business Journal 40 Under 40.

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