Michael Phelps’ Workout Routine and Diet Plan

MICHAEL PHELPS, the name that needs no introduction whatsoever. Regarded as one of the greatest competitive swimmers of all time, Phelps has made records that seem pretty insurmountable.

Here, the question arises how was Phelps able to take his fitness levels to a point that enabled him to set the yardstick in the field of competitive swimming so high?

Well, the answer to that question lies in his training routine and diet plan. And if you want to have a descriptive overview of the same, this post is going to serve you well.

Michael Phelps' Workout Routine and Diet Plan
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Michael Phelps’ Workout Principles

To become one of the most decorated Olympians of all time, Michael had to put in the effort required for that purpose. He was determined to be the best and trained accordingly.

Michael Phelps’ workout routine was structured in a manner that targeted every aspect of his physique and that too pretty intensely.

Michael always ensured to surpass his physical limits in each of his training sessions. For that purpose, he spent many hours in the pool working on his swimming technique, performed weightlifting and weighted calisthenics, and also incorporated HIIT into his training program.

All these contributed towards making him a champion swimmer whose legacy would inspire generations to come.

Michael Phelps’ Workout Routine

Michael Phelps’ Workout Routine
Image: Karaboux / Dreamstime.com

We are sure that you must be curious to know about the exercise routine that Michael Phelps followed. So allow us to give you a detailed overview of Michael Phelps’ training routine that enabled him to become an Olympian who went on to create history.

The Warm-Up

To prepare his body well to go through his strenuous swimming-related workouts, Michael always ensured to properly warm up his body beforehand. He segmented his warm-up routine into four sections which are as follows:-

Section 1

  • Swim: 800 meters
  • Kick: 600
  • Pull: 400
  • Drill: 200

Section 2

  • Fast Twitch 25-meter strokes
  • 50 meters x 6 sets
  • Freestyle Warm-up
  • Sidekick for 3 minutes
  • Butterfly drill
  • Pull buoy

Section 3

  • Individual medley twice
  • 20×100 in 1:15 min
  • 25 fly

Section 4

  • 50 m freestyle
  • 25 m fly
  • 500 strokes: 50 kicks, 50 drill

The Main Workout

Michael Phelps’ main workout program was primarily focused on enhancing his abilities as a swimmer. It consisted of exercises that worked on enhancing his endurance levels along with targeting the muscles that can take his athletic capabilities to the next level.

His workouts are segmented into two sections which are as follows:-

Section 1

  • 2000 timed kick stroke: with the kickboard
  • 4×100 IM drill
  • Pulling Set
  • 10×200 meters in 3 minutes
  • Speed Sets x 4
  • 24×25 fly, three sets: 1 Warm-up, 1 no breath, and 1 sprint
  • Out of the pool core workouts, typically 500 bicycle crunches or sit-ups
  • Static stretches
  • Free Swim performed as a cool down

Section 2

After completing ‘section 1’ of his workout routine, Michael used to take a short break, and then he would jump to complete the next segment of it. Michael always ensured to keep the intensity levels of his training program pretty high to bring out his very best. The second part of his workout split looked like the following:-

  • 800 mixer on 10:30
  • 4×150 kick on 2:30 (50 strokes, 50 free, 50 strokes)
  • 400 pull with a buoy on 5:00 (breathe 3,5,7,9 per 100)
  • 200 stroke on 3:00
  • 10×50 in 45 min (2-25 kick/25 drills 2-25 free/25 stroke)
  • 4×50 in 1:30
  • 1×50 in 1:20
  • 1×50 in 1:10
  • 1×50 in 1:00
  • Long swim 100-200-300 pull (lung busters)
  • 400 choice kick
  • 300-200-100 IM drills
  • Speed & Endurance Training
  • Training paddles, vertical kicking, snorkel, underwater kicking, kickboard,
  • Sled Push, Sled Reverse Fly, Sculling


To become the greatest swimmer of all time, Michael not only relied on performing a plethora of swimming drills but also incorporated weightlifting into his workout plan to enhance his muscular strength and endurance. It also contributed towards shaping his body and making it more flexible and athletic.

However, Phelps never trained to get an overly muscular physique. Thus, he used to lift lighter weights and performed higher repetitions with them.

He performed weightlifting exercises at least three times a week targeting his chest, back, arms and shoulders. His weightlifting workouts primarily comprised the following exercises:-

  • Standing dumbbell press: 3 sets x (10-16) reps
  • Dumbbell front raise: 3 sets x (10-16) reps
  • Dumbbell lateral shoulder raise: 3 sets x (10-16) reps

Weighted Calisthenics

Performing weighted calisthenics was another major part of Michael Phelps’ workout routine. It worked on keeping his physique lean and muscular.

It also enabled him to target his core strength and stability which plays a crucial role in boosting one’s athletic performance. It worked on improving his cardiovascular conditioning as well.

His weighted calisthenics routine primarily included the following two exercises:-

  • Weighted Pull-ups: 3 sets x (7-10) reps
  • Weighted Push-ups: 3 sets x (15-20) reps

Michael also used to perform isometrics on certain exercises to establish a better mind-muscle connection and stimulate more muscle fibers. Doing so also enabled him to facilitate better muscle coordination and balance which enhanced his physical prowess as a swimmer.

To get the most out of his workout plan, Phelps always paid great attention to his recovery. His recovery sessions comprised taking ice baths, stretching, working with a trainer, and even getting full-body massages. He also slept in a chamber at 9000 feet.

All these recovery methods not only assisted him in avoiding injuries but also kept his body in tip-top athletic condition.

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Michael Phelps’ Diet Plan

Michael Phelps’ Diet Plan
Image: Sbukley / Dreamstime.com

Michael Phelps’ diet plan primarily focused on improving his overall athletic performance. His daily routine required him to burn off an insane amount of calories and to serve that purpose well, he had to ensure beforehand that he is feeding his body accordingly.

On a daily basis, Phelps used to consume around 8000-10000 calories during his Olympic career. He even went on to say,

“Eat, sleep and swim. That’s all I can do. Get some calories into my system and try to recover the best I can.”

If you compare Michael Phelps’ everyday caloric intake to an average person, you would be overwhelmed. But you must also consider the fact that Michael was a professional athlete whose daily routine consisted of excessively long and intense training sessions and this required him to fuel his body with copious amounts of good calories.

Michael Phelps’ diet plan contributed significantly towards making him a champion athlete. It comprised plenty of food items that were loaded with essential nutrients and good calories. On a typical day, Michael Phelps’ meal plan looked like the following:-

Meal 1- Breakfast

  • Three fried-egg sandwiches with cheese, fried onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise
  • Two cups of coffee
  • One five-omelet
  • One bowl of grain
  • Three chocolate-chip pancakes
  • Three slices of French toast topped

Meal 2- Lunch

  • One pound of pasta
  • Two large ham and cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread
  • Energy drinks

Meal 3- Dinner

  • One pound of pasta
  • Pizza
  • More energy drinks

It might come to you as a surprise that Phelps never believed in completely avoiding food items like burgers and pizzas. He used to consume them even during his competing days but he also made sure that he doubled his training intensity to burn off excess calories that can mess up with his physical conditioning and athletic performance.

Michael Phelps’ Supplements

In his swimming career, Phelps was so disciplined with following his diet plan that he always ensured his body didn’t lack any nutrients. To serve that purpose well, he even included a few supplements into his diet plan. Doing so enabled him to fetch his body with the nutrients that were quite challenging to be derived from relying only on whole food items.

Michael Phelps’ supplements stack included the following:-

  • Whey Protein Powder
  • Creatine
  • Vitamin-C

All the above-mentioned supplements not only fetched his body with essential nutrients but also contributed towards boosting his overall athletic performance.

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Wrapping Up

The entire credit of Michael Phelps’ incredible success in the Olympics goes to the dedication that he showed towards becoming one of the best athletes ever. His intense workout routine and strict diet plan aided in giving him the edge that made him a world-class swimmer.

Blindly following Michael Phelps’ workout routine and diet plan won’t serve you very well. But you can certainly consider it as a reference on the basis of which you can structure your own fitness regime based on your training goals and experience.

However, if you want to match up with Phelps’ fitness prowess, hiring an experienced coach would serve you pretty well. But even then, it will require you to be patient and disciplined with following your training program and diet plan.