Usain Bolt: Training Secrets of the World’s Fastest Man
ERIC RAY DAVIDSON
In addition to attaining gold medals and record-breaking speed, the sprinter has built one of the best bodies on the planet. And while you’ll never catch him on the track, you can steal his fitness-and-diet regimen
The proud owner of one of mankind’s most sculpted bodies—and three world sprinting records—has an admission: He struggles to haul his six-foot-five, 207-pound frame to the gym each morning. “I am supposed to be at the gym at 10, but that’s when I get up,” says Usain Bolt, a six-time Olympic gold medalist who, as a preteen, excelled at cricket and had to be strong-armed by a coach into giving sprinting a try. So how can he stay ahead of the competition while seemingly living on island time? By going with his gut and putting his back into it.
Most of Bolt’s competitors are shorter (as top sprinters typically are) and have an advantage powering off the starting block, but his freakishly long, ultra-efficient stride takes over. While most top runners need about 45 strides to cover 100 meters, Bolt does it in about 40. To maintain that edge, the 26-year-old Jamaican hits the gym—eventually—for 90-minute workouts geared toward developing explosiveness while maintaining his lean physique. “I do a lot of hamstring curls and leg extensions,” he says. “I try not to get too bulky.” Much of his conditioning is core-centric. “My back is slightly weak,” he explains, referring to the scoliosis he’s had since childhood. Slacking off on back and core work caused Bolt more than just discomfort—after finishing second in the 100-meter and 200-meter 2012 Jamaican Olympic trials, he confessed: “I backed off a few days on my back work and my core training.”
From the Editors of Details
His rigorous routine builds the stability required to hit a top speed of over 27 mph. So what drives him? “I don’t want to come in second,” says Bolt, before adding another motivating factor: “When I’m at the gym, I think about chicks, going to the beach, and looking good. I do it for the girls.”
Below, the champion sprinter’s workout regimen and diet.
Bolt’s Core Values: How to Get Gold-Medal Abs
“If you’re not the athletic type, it’s going to take more to get your body in the shape that you want,” Bolt says. “But if you really want it, it’s possible. It’s all about consistency.” Do three sets of these moves, following Bolt’s routine of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest.
1. Leg Raises
Lie on your back, legs straight, arms overhead (for stability, hold on to bench legs or press your hands against a wall). Raise your legs together, keeping your lower back on the floor, until your soles face the ceiling. Lower. Repeat.
2. Side Sweeps
Lie on your right side, left knee bent 90 degrees, crossed over your body and touching the floor. Extend both arms straight in front of your torso. Swing your left arm in a 180-degree arc across your body, reaching for the floor behind you. Allow your torso to twist along with the movement while keeping your hips facing the opposite direction. Repeat. Next set, switch sides.
3. Reverse Crunches
Lie face-down on the floor, hands behind your head. Lift your torso off the floor, twisting up and to the right. Relax and return to neutral position. Lift your torso and twist to the left. Repeat.
4. Side Plank Clams
Lie on your left side, feet tucked behind you, knees in line with your body. Prop your torso up on your left elbow and raise your hips off the ground in a modified side plank. Place your right hand on your right hip. Open and close your knees in modified clam pose. Repeat. Next set, switch sides.
Eat and Run: Get His Diet
Given Bolt’s love of chicken nuggets and wings, the gold-medal winner’s personal chef has his work cut out to ensure that his body remains rock-hard. One secret weapon: yams. The superfood (only 177 cals per cup) packs 34 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement (which fights post-workout muscle inflammation), 40 percent of vitamin B6 (a natural energy booster), and 26 percent of daily potassium requirements (a key electrolyte). “I could indulge any time I want,” Bolt says. “But I try to go for long periods, maybe three months, without any fast food. The older you get, the better you have to eat.” (Pictured, left: Bolt at the 2012 London Olympic Games)
A Typical Day’s Meals
Breakfast: Ackee and saltfish (a traditional Jamaican dish) with dumplings, cooked banana, yellow yam, and potato.
Lunch: Pasta and chicken breast.
Dinner: Rice and peas with pork.
Styling by Justin Berkowitz. Grooming by Alejandra for Rene Furterer. Clothes and shoes by Puma. Watch by Hublot.