Behind the Body: NASCAR's Carl Edwards

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There are some fit NASCAR drivers—and then there’s Carl Edwards. The pilot of the number 99 Roush Fenway Ford trumps most guys in the garage when it comes to athleticism, with a body more aesthetically suited to a shirtless round of beach volleyball than a fire-suited trip around the track. “NASCAR drivers don’t have to be athletes—not at all,” says Edwards, currently ranked third in the Sprint Cup Series. “It’s the extra bit we want to do to get that last percent on a hard day.” But how the toned Missourian actually gets his last percent remains a bit of mystery. “I generally don’t discuss my workouts, because I think I have a better workout than almost anyone else in the garage,” Edwards says. Still, it’s no secret that the guy has a penchant for pushing hard—and for doing a backflip off his car after each victory. That gymnastic prowess is an area Edwards will discuss, though, telling those who want to try the trick themselves: “Commit to it, then tuck!"

Age: 34

Training grounds: Columbia, Missouri

Height: 6-1

Weight: 185 lbs

Body fat: “I have no clue. I’m so neurotic, I don’t want to know.”

Years as athlete: 15. “I didn’t think about fitness or working out until I was 19 years old and it was my first semester of college. The gym was free, so that semester I put on 20 pounds of muscle mass and I started to run. It was a pretty big eye-opener for me.”

Time spent training on hard day: 3 hours

Time spent training on an easy day: 30 minutes

Days of training per week: 6

Time spent in the weight room per week: 4 hours. “That’s probably too much. It doesn’t help me as much in the racecar as being cardio fit, but I do enjoy lifting weights, and I can see the gains quickly.”

Workout of choice: Cycling. “I bike quite a bit.”

Calories consumed on a hard day: 5,000 to 6,000. “I only counted one day because I thought I was eating too much.”

Favorite pre-race meal: Whole-wheat pasta with marinara sauce and olive oil. “It’s kind of bland, so you don’t have to worry about an upset stomach. And I don’t feel hungry during the race when I eat it.”

Favorite celebration meal: Anything chocolate. “I don’t really celebrate with a meal, but when I do eat poorly, it always revolves around chocolate.”

Pre-workout meal: Smoothies. “I jam all this fruit into the blender. I don’t believe in supplements, so I don’t use with any protein.”

Post-workout meal: Steak or salmon. “I basically eat what I want, within reason, as long as it’s not terrible for you.”

Biggest dietary temptation: Sugar. “Before I took fitness seriously, I was the guy who ate terribly and drank 10 sodas a day. I still want a soda.”

Biggest physical challenge: Taking a break. “I have a hard time resting. I should probably listen to my body more and recover more.”

Best recovery trick. A good book. “I need something that will make me stop.”

Sport he’d take up if he wasn’t a NASCAR driver: Baseball. “There’s a lot of strategy, and it’s explosive. You have to be fast when you have to be fast, and you have to be strong.”

Best advice to amateur drivers: Never outdrive what you can see in front of you, and never outdrive your field of vision. “Don’t come blasting over a hill at 80 miles per hour if you can’t stop in the distance. And friends don’t let friends Apex early—you can’t turn the corner early, you have to turn late.”