At 35 and having won more medals than anyone in his illustrious Olympic career, one might think that family life slowed Michael Phelps down. Instead, exercising at home has sparked a new wave of positive fitness gains.
Phelps is a happily married father of three boys. He has taken on family life like a duck in the water and loves nothing more than taking control of the kitchen, where plant-based foods play a more important role in lifestyle in his household. The 23-time Olympic champion recorded a "sweat session" that can be followed by anyone for a great home workout. The campaign, in partnership with soy protein drink Silk ULTRA, also encourages those working on Phelps' fitness session to upload a sweaty selfie for the chance to win a home gym upgrade.
Courtesy of Silk Ultra
Her diet of 8,000 to 10,000 calories during exercise is still legendary. Was it so much fun to eat every day or did it become more of a duty?
You are one of the first to ask me about it this way! Yes, it was more of a chore – it was part of my job. I could have days where (my weight) would fluctuate between 5 and 10 pounds and that is not water weight. When I swim 10 miles a day and spend more than an hour in the weight room or doing some kind of cardio it became a non-stop job. I ate around the clock and got my hands on everything I could, whenever I could and as much as I could.
How does this approach compare to life in your 30s?
If you fast forward 10 to 20 years then and now, it's completely different. I'm not someone who always likes to eat because it was such a part of my life that sometimes I had to force myself to eat because I had to keep that weight off. So now I'm in a transition where I'm giving my body what I think it needs. I don't hand over a lot of different things. I'm very specific about what I put in my diet, so I've switched to a more plant-based diet. In a post-swim period, I'm a lot leaner than I've probably been before.
Do you get involved in the kitchen?
I am the head chef of the house. I cook most of the breakfasts and I cook every dinner.
How do the meals work? Do you have to juggle different menus or make compromises?
We have a mixed diet; not all of it is plants. We include everything in our diet, but we don't have as much red meat as typical families might. Beckett, our middle kid, likes green leafy vegetables, which Boomer (our oldest) adds a little bit of.
Avocado is something we can get into it. Balancing your diet is something that you must try and do. It was just trial and error. It was fun because it gave me a challenge in the kitchen. But we don't eat other meals.
One thing I wanted to do, and would have wished for more as a kid, is that I appreciate meal time. I appreciate meals with the kids and the family. That helped me slow things down while earlier in my life I was racing against the clock trying to save hundredths of a second (meal time) has become very special to me.
Do you enjoy a treat on the weekend?
There are definitely pizza nights. The kids love pepperoni pizza, they love cheese pizza. Whether that is once a week or every two weeks, I think it depends on the chef's mood (laughs)!
Courtesy of Silk Ultra
How have some of the COVID-19 restrictions affected your exercise and how important is it to stay active at home?
Last year was extremely challenging. Myself and my wife are still in the process of building a home gym. We're still waiting for a few products to come into the house, but we got to get by with the things we have and somehow make some new plans and some new exercises along the way. To give everyone a chance to improve their gym (via the Silk ULTRA competition), get something at home that will help them be the best self they can be … As one of the greatest believers in the world From (the importance of) recovery, this is like a dream come true for me.
Your Instagram posts show that your wife Nicole has a great workout partner. Can you motivate each other and do you like to train together?
For sure. It is different. I was someone who was always very serious, especially when I was exercising, and it was amazing to have my wife with me and lift with me three days a week. As a husband, it was fun to see her try out some of these new moves and these new lifting routines. It's something that is so different for them, but something I've been doing for 15 or 20 years. To see how she accepts this challenge and comes out even when tired or sore she always tries to get stronger and for I am very motivating to see.
At this point, you don't really need to put pressure on yourself in the gym, but do you still find it a great way to focus on goals?
Yes, I have a lot of goals for what I try in the gym. My biggest thing is that I'm trying to regain a lot of mobility, so I'm trying to build muscle, actually for golf. Golf has been a hobby of mine for a while, so I really want to open my hips and be able to get more flexibility and a little more turn.
I work with a trainer I've worked with all my life, Keenan Robinson. He's been writing my workouts for almost 20 years. So, he knows my body better than anyone and he's not here with me, but I send him a lot of videos and we're very interactive with each other … I think it's not a hobby, you know, exercising for me isn't a Hobby hobby. I go in very determined to make a profit and try to get better.