In the NFL offseason when the soreness that comes with a 16-game schedule finally subsides, it's time for players to begin the grind for the upcoming season. Training during the season isn't quite as demanding because there's also practice and preparation for the next opponent. There is also the reward of a game at the end of the week. In the offseason there is no carrot dangling out there. The motivation must come from within or from some other source.
Bills defensive tackle Torell Troup is a self-starter by nature, but it's his workout buddy that has really helped him move beyond his perceived limits. That partner in the gym is none other than his father, Tory Troup, who is fit as a 40-year old could possibly be.
The two have trained together since Troup's college days at the University of Central Florida.
"Even when I used to come home from college on breaks or for a couple of weeks in the summer time I'd have the chance to lift with him," Troup said. "Right now though is actually the first time where I've actually been able to lift weights with him for more than a month. I love being in the weight room with my father. He's just as strong as I am."
A lot of NFL players have personal trainers to help keep them on track in preparation for the next regular season. Troup prefers his dad.
"To have my dad in the weight room with me pushing and doing the same stuff as me is really cool," he said. "You might have somebody like a personal trainer telling you what to do, but they're not doing it. He's right there doing it with me so it's great."
That also leads to some pretty intense competition between father and son despite their different body types.
"We joke with each other. I tell him he's 'body builder' strong and I'm more 'strongest man' strong. He's definitely more cut up than me," said the 6'1" 314-pound defensive lineman. "He's about 6'1" and 245 and is solid muscle. He just likes to work out and take care of his body. He doesn't want me to be stronger than him. Even though I know I'm a little stronger than him, he doesn't want me to be so he hits the weight room hard."
So hard in fact that last year when Troup was preparing for the NFL Combine at a sports performance complex down in Miami, his dad was still motivating him back in his native Georgia with his own workout routine. Tory Troup helped his son set some goals for the workouts in Indianapolis.
"When I was training for the Combine you have to bench press 225 (pounds)," said Troup. "He sent me a video and said, 'This should be your motivation.' I watched the video and at the end of his upper body workout he did 225 32 times. So he was my motivation leading up to and at the Combine. If he does it, I definitely have to do it."
Troup's bench press total in Indy last year?
"Seeing that video all the time and him constantly sending it to me kept me working hard," he said.
The admiration and respect Troup has for his father is obvious, and there's a reason. His father and his mother Lashana Johnson had Torell as teenagers. The challenges they faced were too numerous to count.
Though there were bumps in the road for the family during Torell's early childhood years, the father and son are closer than ever. It's clear Torell, even now at 23-years old, relishes every day he gets with his dad as evidenced by some of the more recent posts on his twitter account.
*TorellTroup Just finished a great workout with my father. Core is hurting but that's what it needs. Glad I can go to the gym with my father.
*TorellTroup Just finished a great workout. I love working out with my father. He pushes me past my limits to be the best I can be.*
Even when Troup is done pushing out each extra rep in the gym, he's working to squeeze out every possible moment he has with his father in the offseason. The time they spend together stretches far beyond the gym, with bowling another popular pursuit.
But the gym is where Torell not only physically feels the strongest it's also where the bond between father and son appears strongest as well.
"My dad is just very competitive and it really is fun to have my dad around and doing everything with him," said Troup. "I enjoy the offseason work with him so much more."
Ultimately, Troup respects and understands the challenges his parents faced, which is why he uses their trials in life as the driving force to help him carve out his own success.
"I can honestly say that everything I've done so far and everything I'll do in the future is dedicated to my parents," he said. "They struggled so much to take care of me at a very young age. I can say that they are my motivation."