You know that Fitter U Fitness is all about getting fitter and burning fat by using the training methods of professional athletes.
So today I thought it would be pretty cool to give you my top 30 list of the fittest pro athletes.
Buckle up and get ready for the ride.
1. RAFAEL NADAL
Career: Tennis Player
Why Nadal? Because of those guns, for goodness’ sake. Or gun, really. The left one. It’s a boulder. A cannon. A WMD.
Because of his stamina, his physique. Because of the way he plays, with that never give up attitude, running donw every single ball.
The way Mike Singletary or Ray Nitschke or Lawrence Taylor would play if they played tennis. Remember the Office Linebacker?
He’s the Office Tennis Champion. Six Grand Slams. Thirty-three tournament wins. Twenty-three-million dollars in prize winnings. Because he rebuilt his game to become No. 1. (at least until recently).
No longer just a “clay” guy, he’s now a man for all surfaces. A lot of “clay” guys are content to be “clay” guys. Not him. Because of his relentless pursuit of the greatest artist the sport has ever seen. He’s the only man on the planet with the will and the way to end the Roger Federer Era.
Because he was No. 1 for 37 weeks after supplanting Federer in August 2008. Because he wants to stay there. We love that. Because he loves his national soccer team – viva Espana! – and loves it with the passion you’d expect from a Spaniard. Loves it like a fan. And seems to love life like a fan.
Because he actually pulls off the Capri pants (or as I like to call them – “shpants”). Or he makes us think he does. Whatever you do, do it confidently. And he does. Because he brought joy back to the sport. He’s Ille Nastase. He’s Bjorn Borg. He’s Jimmy Connors. Without any of their deficiencies. Because of the latest Greatest Match in the History of the Sport, his four-hour, 48-minute victory over Federer in the Wimbledon Finals last summer.
It was a convergence of the sport’s greatest on its greatest stage. His victory signified a real-time passing of the torch. Because when he wins, we feel drained. And empowered. We feel as if we were there. Or wish we had been. For all those reasons, Rafael Nadal, the best tennis player in the world, is the 2009 Men’s Fitness Fittest Guy in the World.
2. Oguchi Onyewu
Defender: U.S. SOCCER
I had to Oguchi into the list. After all, he’s a soccer player – fittest athletes ever!
At 6â€4, 210 pounds, heâ€™s one of the most feared men in the worldâ€™s game.
â€œIâ€™ve played against a lot of massive defenders. And no one has Oguchiâ€™s strength. His shoulders and chest are so big that people confuse him with an NFL player. He can move anyone in the game with one arm, including the best strikers in the world. Guys absolutely fear him.â€
- Charlie Davies, FORWARD, U.S. SOCCER
3. USAIN BOLT
One year after his gold Pumas set fire to the track at Beijing National Stadium in the 2008 Summer Olympics, the slim (6’5″, 190 pounds) speedster is still smoking.
Not like fellow gold medalist Michael Phelps. Bolt is only determined to light it up on the track this summer. “The main thing is the championships,” Bolt says. “The time doesn’t matter if I win.” Prep for the IAAF World Championships in Berlin this August included regular sprint workouts and three-day-a-week lifting sessions.
“As a sprinter, you don’t want bulk, but you try to build your muscles,” he says. “When you hit a stage, you kind of tone it up.”
4. Zdeno Chara
Defenseman, BOSTON Bruins
Never has a 6â€9 intimidator been so quick on ice.
â€œThrow skates on Zdeno, and heâ€™s basically seven feet tall. Heâ€™s got great balance and power and canâ€™t be knocked down. The joke here is that when he poke-checks, he can sweep his stick from board to board. How can you get around with a guy like that? For me, heâ€™s a video gamerâ€™s dream, the create-a-player guy youâ€™ve always wanted to exist in real life.â€
- David Littman, Former NHL, Goalie and Producer of EAâ€™s NHL 10
5. Carl Edwards
Sport: NASCAR DRIVER
He pilots a speeding bullet with more than just a fast set of hands.
It takes unbelievable core strength to handle a race car at 200 mph. Carl trains really hard, and heâ€™s an amazing athlete. Iâ€™ve seen him perform a perfect dropkick, something I canâ€™t even do. There are only a handful of guys outside wrestling who could hang with us in the ring: Shaq, Ray Lewis, Terrell Owens. You can add Carl to that list.â€
- John Cena, WWF WRESTLER
6. Adrian Peterson
Sport: Football – Running Back, Minnesota Vikings
I think this picture says it all. But there’s more.
He says his favorite body part is his heart. Itâ€™s easy to see why.
â€œGo to Rome and find a sculpture chiseled out of stone. Thatâ€™s Adrian. His handshake will drop you to your knees. His calling card, though, is that he does whatever it takes to care for his body: cold tub, electric stimulation, ultrasound, compression boot, underwater treadmill, laser therapy. That stuff isnâ€™t fun, but thatâ€™s what makes him special. Heâ€™s just willing to endure.â€
- Eric Sugarman, Vikings Head Athletic Trainer
7. Ryan Lochte
Sport: Olympic Swimmer
Sure, the ladies think heâ€™s got the looks. But toughness? That, too.
â€œWhen Ryan set the 200-meter backstroke world record at the 2007 world championships, he did it with a broken foot. Heâ€™d busted it skateboarding, then rebroke it jumping into the pool four days before the event.
Still, he won gold in the 800 free relay and silver in the 100-meter backstroke. 200 IM and 400IM. Every flip turn was excruciating, but he never made a big deal about it. â€œ
- Steve Lochte, FATHER
8. SHANI DAVIS
Sport: US Olympic Speed Skater
At 6’2″, 190 pounds, Davis is a much different athlete from the 155-pounders he usually skates against.
“When I sink into the ice, it taxes my legs differently than a guy who’s 5’6″,” he says. That’s why Davis trains so often, hitting the rink six days a week for two to four hours. He focuses on traditional leg exercises like squats and leg presses. He also calls running “fun,” and says plyometrics give his muscles some “snappiness,” which helps him best utilize his size. “I can carry my weight a lot easier than a smaller guy.”
A 2006 Olympic gold medalist, Davis has raced in short- and long-track events, though his height makes him more suited for longer distances. “People would say I’m a true all-around speed skater,” says Davis. “I can do almost anything on a blade.”
9. BOB BURNQUIST
Sport: Pro Skate-Boarder
You’d be surprised at the fitness requirements of a pro skate boarder. Think about balance, core strength, powerful legs.
“Most skateboarders only work out when they’re coming back from an injury,” says Burnquist, who recently launched off his board into the Grand Canyon for a first of its kind BASE jump and continues to push the limits of Mega Ramp riding.
“After a few injuries, I’ve taken a proactive role.” The No. 1-ranked skateboarder employs bodyweight training, a medicine ball, and off-balance techniques to increase his body’s awareness of space and to improve his durability.
10. TIM TEBOW
Sport: US College Football Player
How much more can he do? He’s won two national titles and a Heisman, and at 6’3″ and 235 pounds, he’s reshaped the idea of a quarterback’s physical capabilities. “[Fitness] has played a huge role,” says the Florida Gator.
“A lot of my game is being a physical player, a runner as well as a thrower, someone who plays all four quarters. You see a difference between us and other teams because we’re in better shape.”
Tebow’s off-season regimen comprises shoulder work, bench presses, squats, lunges, speed and agility drills, and position-specific exercises with resistance. He can max out with the linemen but knows he doesn’t need to be “the strongest guy on the team.” Instead, he says he lifts smarter without hurting his body. He prefers to continue to hurt defenders, instead.
11. LEBRON JAMES
Sport: NBA Player
Lebron’s a machine! It’s that simple.
He looks more like a linebacker than a small forward, at 6’8″ and 250 pounds. And he’s really just begun working out seriously. Seriously.
The co-best basketball player on the planet does yoga and Pilates to endure the rigors of his sport. “I’ve been blessed with a lot of physical talent and a strong body,” James recently told The Plain Dealer. “I’ve focused on working hard to maximize those gifts.”
Could James grow to 275 pounds with ridiculously low body fat? Could he average an unthinkable 40 points, 12 boards, and 10 assists per game over a season? The trouble with numbers is that they have measurable limits. LeBron James, it seems, does not.
12. SIMON DUMONT
Sport: US Freestyle Skier
Skiing is one of the most incredible sports to train for. It requires a huge amount of leg power, core strength, and anaerobic endurance.
Last April, Dumont soared 35 feet to shatter the world record for height on a quarter pipe. He credits not just his ski skills, but also his work in the gym.
“I do a lot of balancing stuff with weights in the air and do one-footed squats on the Bosu ball,” he says. “I’m just tightening up my core and all the little muscles, rather than trying to bulk up. I’m trying to create longevity. I want to make sure I’ll be this strong when I’m 30 or 40.”
13. MANNY PACQUIAO
Sport: Light-Welterweight Fighter
He’s only 5’6″, but this Pac-Man packs a ton of power. “It comes from his speed and his legs,” says longtime trainer Freddie Roach. “His legs are so strong, and his explosive speed is a God-given talent. With those two working together, he’s almost unstoppable.”
To prep for fights, Pacquiao, winner of four titles in four divisions, works out for two weeks before training with Roach in California. Then for two months, he’ll run in the mornings, do 1,000 situps, shadowbox, jump rope, punch the heavy bag, and spar in the afternoons for four rounds, building up to 12 as the fight nears. Roach says Manny’s unparalleled discipline gives him the edge. “He’s a machine,” he says. “I tell him to take Sundays off, and he says, ‘No, I have to run.’ I ask why, and he says, ‘Because my opponent might be.” – I LOVE THAT!
14. GEORGES ST-PIERRE
Country: Canada (yeah baby!)
Sport: UFC Fighter
I can’t stand the UFC. It makes me sick to my stomach seeing one guy nearly kill his opponent. What has our world come to?
Nonetheless, you’ve got to respect the strength and fitness level of many of the UFC fighters. Look at “GSP”.
By dismantling UFC lightweight champion BJ Penn earlier this year, St-Pierre took ownership of the “best pound-for-pound fighter” mantle. GSP routinely kills it in the gym with strength and conditioning coach Jonathan Chaimberg, a fellow Montreal native.
Chaimberg has taken him from only eight body-weight pullups per set to now banging them out with a 120-pound dumbbell attached to his waist. Normally 188 pounds, St-Pierre cuts about 20 pounds for a fight and carries only about 5% body fat. “He’s probably the most gifted athlete you’ll ever meet,” says Chaimberg.
15. LEWIS HAMILTON
Country: United Kingdom
Sport: Formula One Racer
Aside from making the list of top 30 fittest athletes, Lewis has the most incredible F1 car I’ve ever seen! It looks like a stainless steel fridge on wheels!
The youngest Formula One World Champion ever, Hamilton is also one of its fittest. F1 cars can reach speeds of up to 250 mph, putting the British driver under 3.5 G’s of stress (which is the equivalent of three and a half times his own body weight).
“It can feel a bit like someone is trying to rip your head off,” he says. To stay fit, Hamilton trains for nearly four hours at least six days a week during his off- season. “Leg strength is essential to be able to brake late into a corner,” he says, “and core stability is key.” Hamilton’s trainer, Adam Costanzo, travels with him all over the world. “It isn’t just in the gym the whole time,” Hamilton says. “We get outside, climb mountains, run cross-country, or go snowshoeing. We train anywhere.”
16. LARRY FITZGERALD
Sport: NFL Star
Move over T.O. Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is now the man among NFL wideouts. The 6’3″, 220-pounder was the biggest reason the Cards reached the Super Bowl last season for the first time in team history.
Though Arizona lost to Pittsburgh, Fitzgerald made one of the game’s most memorable plays when he caught a pass over the middle and adroitly shed Steelers defenders on the way to a thrilling 64-yard fourth-quarter TD.
His ridiculous physical ability can partly be attributed to intense off-season workouts that improve his already-profound jumping ability and speed. In addition to plyometric box jumps and track drills, Fitzgerald and Cardinals strength coach John Lott do barefoot drills to stabilize his leg muscles and utilize a trampoline-like device they call a “super-chute,” which, if you’ve seen him play, explains a lot.
17. Dwight Howard
Born: Dec 8, 1985
Height: 6-11 / 2,11
Weight: 265 lbs. / 120,2 kg.
Put Dwight Howard on the football field, and he would catch three touchdowns per game. Put him in center field, and the fence just got a few inches higher. Put him in goal and watch David Beckham cry.
Never have we seen an athlete with Howardâ€™s combination of size and leaping ability. He is able to look down in the hoop when dunking and block shots at the top of the backboard.
Howard continues to get stronger, but it doesnâ€™t seem to come at the expense of his athleticism or body control. The only thing holding him back is that heâ€™s not a coordinated ball-handler.
18. Wladimir Klitschko
The only thing worse than getting hit in the face is getting hit in the face by a 6â€²6â€³, 245-pound heavyweight champion.
Although we will never know it because they promised their mother they would never fight, Wladimir is the superior of the Klitschko brothers both athletically and physically.
Boxing is the most physically strenuous sport because it requires the stamina to go the distance and the power to knock your opponent out at any time.
Other boxers may be better fighters pound for pound, but toe-to-toe, Wladimir Klitschko is the most dominant figure in the sport.
19. Calvin Johnson
Megatron has been the nickname dubbed to Calvin Johnson because of his inhuman characteristics.
When you create a player on Madden Football, you wouldnâ€™t even make him 6â€²5â€³ and 240 pounds with sub 4.4 speed and a 40+ inch vertical because it would be too unfair.
Yes, he has the athletic ability, but he also knows how to use it. Johnson makes the catches other receivers would give up on, and he routinely out-quicks smaller defensive backs.
There should not be a question of if Johnson belongs on this list; itâ€™s only a matter of where he belongs.
20. Paddy Doyle
Country: Solihull, UK
Sport: Professional multi-disciplinary athlete
“To achieve 166 Course, Regional, National, British, European and World fitness endurance records I have to train every day, duration of training 3 to 4 hours. I hold various World Records under several different sporting catergorys. To be awarded the World Fitness Endurance Title I had to beat three tough multi fitness records,” says Paddy Doyle, who some consider the world’s fittest athlete.
21. Michael Phelps
Born June 30, 1985, is an American swimmer, frequently cited as the greatest swimmer and one of the greatest Olympians of all time.
He has won 14 career Olympic gold medals, the most by any Olympian. As of August 2, 2009, Phelps has broken thirty-seven world records in swimming.
Phelps holds the record for the most gold medals won in single Olympics, his eight at the 2008 Beijing Games surpassed American swimmer Mark Spitz’s seven-gold performance at Munich in 1972.
Overall, Phelps has won 16 Olympic medals: six gold and two bronze at Athens in 2004, and eight gold at Beijing in 2008. In doing so he has twice equaled the record eight medals of any type at a single Olympics achieved by Soviet gymnast Alexander Dityatin at the 1980 Moscow Summer Games.
His five golds in individual events tied the single Games record set by Eric Heiden in the 1980 Winter Olympics and equaled by Vitaly Scherbo at the 1992 Summer Games. Phelps career Olympic medal total is second only to the 18 Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina won over three Olympics, including nine gold.
22. Maria Sharapova
Born 19 April 1987, Sharapova is a former World No. 1 Russian professional tennis player and three time Grand Slam singles champion. As of October 26, 2009, she is ranked World No. 14.
Sharapova is an aggressive baseliner, with power, depth, and angles on her forehand and backhand. Instead of using a traditional volley or overhead smash, she often prefers to hit a powerful “swinging” volley when approaching the net or attacking lobs.
Sharapova is thought to have good speed around the court, especially considering her height. At the beginning of 2008, some observers noted that Sharapova had developed her game, showing improved movement and footwork and the addition of a drop shot and sliced backhand to her repertoire of shots. Sharapova is known for on-court “grunting”, which reached a recorded 101 decibels during a match at Wimbledon in 2005. Monica Seles suggested that grunting is involuntary and a part of tennis. When questioned by the media about her grunting, Sharapova urged the media to “just watch the match.”
23. Kohei Uchimura
Gymnasts are absolute freaks of nature. I mean that in a good way. I once tried the rings and nearly had my arms rip off my torso – immediately I understood the demands of the sport.
Possibly the fittest man in the world is Kohei Uchimura, of Japan. He showed this last August 14, 2008, at the menâ€™s all-around final of the World Championships at the O2 arena in southeast London, with a performance of calm and spectacular brilliance. No one can match the physical achievement of the top-level gymnast, not when every aspect of fitness is brought into the equation. Strength? You try the cross on the rings, when you hold yourself with arms parallel to the floor, as if in crucifixion. Speed? You donâ€™t hang about on the runway when you have a couple of somersaults or 2Â½ twists to complete between the vaulting horse and the ground beyond it.
24. Lance Armstrong
Armstrong has recorded an aerobic capacity of 83.8 mL/kg/min (VO2 Max), higher than the average person (40-50), but lower than other Tour De France winners, Miguel Indurain (88.0, although reports exist that Indurain tested at 92-94) and Greg LeMond (92.5).
He has a resting heart rate of 32-34 beats per minute (bpm) with a maximum heart rate of 201 bpm – which is absolutely crazy!
Before his cancer treatment, Armstrong had won two Tour de France stages. In 1993, he won the 8th stage and in 1995 he took stage 18 in honor of teammate Fabio Casartelli who crashed and died on stage 15.
Returning in 2009, Armstrong finished third, 5:24 back, becoming the second oldest rider to stand on the Tour podium. His Astana team dominated the race, with teammate Alberto Contador taking the overall title, and Astana also winning the team time trial.
In addition to 7 Tour de France wins, Armstrong won 22 individual stages (including 11 time trials) and his team won the team time trial on 4 occasions through 2009.
25. Allyson Felix
American sprinter Allyson Felix became one of the star athletes of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
A record-breaking sprinter in the 200-meter event, Felix is also the first American track athlete to enter professional ranks straight out of high school.
She has been hailed as the new savior for an American track-and-field team blighted by rumors of doping, and she has found the sudden celebrity a bit intense. “You could say it’s been a little busy, but it’s all been good fun,” she told Richard Luscombe of the London Observer. “Every-thing that’s happened has been a blessing, something new and different, although all the attention takes a little adjusting to.”
Born on November 18, 1985, Felix grew up in Santa Clarita, California. Her father, Paul, is a Baptist minister who had once been an excellent sprinter as a teen, and from her schoolteacher mother, Marlean, she inherited her long legs. Felix followed her older brother, Wes, into the sport, though she did not try out for a track team until her ninth-grade year at Los Angeles Baptist High School in North Hills.
That March of 2000 date proved an apocryphal one: she was the first to make a run when the coach, Jonathan Patton, lined up the possible sprinting stars during tryout week. She ran it so fast that he thought he had mismeasured the distance, but then the other runners who came after her clocked in normal times. She ran it again at his request, and with the same result.
26. Amanda Beard
She is considered a beautiful woman and was placed among the FHM’s “100 Sexiest Women in the World 2005″ and FHM magazine’s “100 Sexiest Women in the World 2006″.
Amanda Beard was born on October 29, 1981 in Irvine, California, USA. She is a swimmer and model.
Beard participated in the 1996 Summer Olympics, 2000 Summer Olympics, 2004 Summer Olympics, and 2008 Summer Olympics, capturing a total of seven medals, the most recent in the 2004 games.
She held the world number one ranking of 200 meter breaststrokers in 2003. In U.S. competition, Beard won three 200 meter breaststroke, three 100 meter breaststroke, and two 200 meter individual medley US National titles.
27. Natalie Anne Coughlin
Born August 23, 1982 in Vallejo, California, Natalie, is an American swimmer and represented the United States at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
At the 2004 Summer Olympics, she won two gold medals, two silver medals, and a bronze. She is known for her dominance in a short course pool and unmatched underwater kicking ability. She currently holds American and US Open records in eight different events in a short course yards pool. She is also engaged to Crow Canyon Sharks coach Ethan Hall.
Coughlin set her latest world record in the 100 meter backstroke at the 2008 summer Olympic trials. She is the first woman ever to go under 59 seconds in the 100 meter backstroke. She also holds world records in the 100 meter individual medley and as a member of the 4x200m freestyle relay as well as numerous US swimming records.
28. Ana Ivanovic
Date of Birth: 6 November 1987, Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia)
Ana Ivanovic started to play tennis when she was only 5, after being inspired by Monica Seles (by watching TV), also a Serbian player.
It was a hard task for Ana who had to practice in the early morning in 1999 in order to avoid the NATO bombing and during the winter time she used to use a abandoned swimming pool, due to the lack of tennis facilities.
She was first noticed by the tennis world when she reached the final of the 2004 Junior Wimbledon tournament, losing to Kateryna Bondarenko.
The next tear, Ivanovic won her first career singles title, as a qualifier, in Canberra, Australia, (by defeating Melinda Czink in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1). That was the beginning of a string of successes; she defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova, Nadia Petrova, Vera Zvonareva the same year,all of them being WTA top 10 players by that time.
29. Cheng Fei
Yet another incredible gymnast. The females always amaze me with their extraordinary flexibility and graceful movements. Cheng is a case in point.
Born May 29, 1988 in Huangshi, Hubei) is a Chinese gymnast. She is a three-time World Champion on the vault (2005-2007) and 2006 World Champion on floor exercise.
She was a member of the gold medal-winning Chinese teams for the 2006 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Aarhus, Denmark and 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
She was also a member of the silver medal-winning Chinese team for the 2007 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
30. Roger Federer
I’ve saved the best for last. If there was one person I’d love to be for one day it would definitely be Roger. He’s truly a class act and I don’t anyone could ever imagine the volume and intensity with which he trains. He’s been known to have practice players flown to him in Dubai where he will train with them for 4-5 hours straight, literally until his “opponent” hits the floor.
There’s a reason you barely ever see him sweat in a match.
Born 8 August 1981, Roger is a Swiss professional tennis player. As of October 2009, he is ranked world number 1 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), having previously held the number one position for a record 237 consecutive weeks. Many sports analysts, tennis critics, and former and current players consider Federer to be the greatest tennis player of all time.
Federer has won 15 Grand Slam singles titles, more than any other male player. He is one of six male players to have captured the career Grand Slam. Federer has appeared in an unprecedented 21 career Grand Slam finals, and as of September 2009, has reached the semi-finals or better of the last 22 Grand Slam tournaments, a streak that spans over five years. Federer also holds the record of reaching 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals and has appeared in 17 of the last 18. As a result of his successes in tennis, Federer was named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for four consecutive years (2005â€“2008).