Vahe Gregorian

Good sleep and this personal trainer have helped make a ‘Greek god’ of Patrick Mahomes

Surrounded by jubilant family members and friends that night in 2017 when the Chiefs traded up to select him 10th overall in the NFL Draft, amid learning details of his flight to Kansas City the next morning for the first day of the rest of his life, Patrick Mahomes might have succumbed to distraction.

Instead, he sought out Bobby Stroupe, the personal trainer with whom he began working out in fourth grade.

Fretting he might miss a few days of workouts, Mahomes wanted to get one in around 6 a.m. before flying. The idea was so ridiculous that Stroupe tried to talk him out of it.

But …

“Nah,” Stroupe said, “we went to work.”

The snapshot is revealing in more ways than you might guess, a clash of two of Mahomes’ characteristics that Stroupe believes make all else possible: a voracious devotion to work and … ardent dedication to sleep.

“I want the headline to be that he is the most prolific sleeper in the world,” Stroupe said, laughing. “Undisputed.”

So, yes, at least in one way you, too, can be like Patrick Mahomes, who smiled at the topic and said, “I like to sleep, for sure.”

But while Stroupe might jokingly call him a “sloth,” more seriously he said the habit is his No. 1 performance-enhancer because of the regeneration, mental health, alertness and stability it helps provide.

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Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes works out during a session with trainer Bobby Stroupe at the APEC training center in Ft. Worth. Courtesy of APEC

“I mean, how much anxiety do you sense from Patrick?” said Stroupe, whose business currently supports more than 100 athletes in the NFL and Major League Baseball.

And beyond the odd conflicts here and there, such as in the immediate aftermath of being drafted by the Chiefs when the compulsion to work exceeded the sleep doctrine, prioritizing rest also is the underpinning of his capacity for everything else.

That in turn is part of a distinct change in Mahomes’ physical stature as the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player enters his second season as a starter.

Kindled by approximately 72 personalized workouts with Stroupe at his APEC training center in Ft. Worth between the end of the season and the Chiefs’ offseason program, Mahomes entered camp in St. Joseph entered camp in St. Joseph somewhat more sculpted than a year ago.

By Stroupe’s measure, Mahomes arrived at about 227 pounds, down eight from 2018, and with approximately 11.5% body fat. Mahomes left camp last year with 12% body fat, and Stroupe believes he’ll be about 9.5% this time around.

In addition to Chiefs’ staff, Stroupe figures Mahomes has had some support in the cause from longtime girlfriend Brittany Matthews, trained by Stroupe during a sterling soccer career and now a personal trainer herself.

The result has him looking like “a Greek god,” said Adam Cook, Mahomes’ coach at Whitehouse High.

The more statuesque figure has its purpose.

“Last year, the focus was movement; we wanted him to be a more dynamic mover and be more difficult to catch. And it really worked well,” Stroupe said.

But Mahomes nonetheless took a lot of hits as the season went on, giving Stroupe a glimpse of the way teams might approach Mahomes in the future.

When he met with Mahomes shortly after the season ended with the 37-31 overtime loss to New England in the AFC Championship Game, they talked over the need to put on muscle for the kind of increased and intensified contact he figures to get.

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Patrick Mahomes had something on the order of 72 personalized workouts this offseason with Bobby Stroupe at his APEC training center in Ft. Worth. Courtesy of APEC

As he has for years, Mahomes bought in.

Speaking generally about working with Stroupe, Mahomes said the reason he’s still with him after all this time is the contouring of the training and trust that comes with it. He knows his personality and knows how he plays the game.

“He puts me in positions that I’m going to be in throughout the game,” Mahomes said. “He actually watches the tape and sees exactly how I watch the game, so it’s not just training that’s for everyone — it’s training that’s specifically for me.

“And he likes to put me in positions that he knows that I don’t like and that I have to figure out ways to get out of. … (And) he stays on me. I think that’s another big thing.”

The result, Stroupe believes, is more upper-body mass without losing mobility and flexibility.

“I dare say he’s going to display more power,” he said. “He’s going to be a more robust athlete.”

If anyone could track that, it would be Stroupe, who first encountered Mahomes when his father, Pat Sr., was working to make a comeback in baseball.

Since he was typically working with groups of athletes, his first distinct memories of the younger Mahomes are a few years later as his work ethic and arm strength became impossible to miss.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) warms up during the Kansas City Chiefs training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. Jill Toyoshiba

“He’s worked hard for that arm; it hasn’t always just been a second-nature thing,” said Stroupe, noting the elder Mahomes had more of a track and field type body than the “reverse centaur” he considers his son. “There’s genetic influence from his father, no question, but their body types are so different that it’s expressed in a completely different way.”

Stroupe’s way is focused on movement, which has further cultivated some of Mahomes’ natural dynamism.

The regimens over the years help explain why Mahomes’ arm can “display power from angles we’ve never seen before,” as Stroupe put it. And why he looks so fluid amid chaos.

“The best way I would describe his physical ability is he’s comfortable in uncomfortable positions and he’s very comfortable in uncomfortable situations,” he said. “And that’s something that he’s trained, we’ve trained that way, but he’s also gifted that way.”

Part of Mahomes’ gift is what Stroupe calls amazing “problem-solving” skills, and the most visible part of that is what you see in any given Chiefs game ... after Mahomes gets in the right state of mind.

While Stroupe doesn’t specifically work with Mahomes on his pre-game routine, he encourages creativity and individuality in pre-game warmups towards optimal mental boxes to check.

Visualization of what’s ahead and such actions as throwing the ball as far as he can, Stroupe said, “get him into what we would call a flow state, to where his body is in less of a conscious-type mode and more of an unconscious, parallel-type universe.”

Kind of like sleeping helps him get in the right state of mind for everything else.

“How many people,” Stroupe said, “can say that about the way they go to work each day?”

A work commitment, incidentally, that was no different this last summer than it was the night of the draft.

For all his well-documented adventures around the country, Stroupe said, Mahomes seldom if ever missed workouts. At times, that meant Stroupe connecting with him trainers he’s known at various outposts.

“The MVP thing had no effect on his approach to the offseason,” he said. “Which can’t be common.”

Like about everything else when it comes to Mahomes.

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Vahe Gregorian has been a sports columnist for The Kansas City Star since 2013 after 25 years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He has covered a wide spectrum of sports, including 10 Olympics. Vahe was an English major at the University of Pennsylvania and earned his master’s degree at Mizzou.