After Ryan Lochte won five more medals at the 2012 Summer Games, bringing his grand total of Olympic hardware to 11, the media couldn’t get enough of the brawny swimmer—and vice versa. Photos of a shirtless Lochte started popping up all over the Internet, People magazine named him to its “Sexiest Man Alive” list, and E! even inked a deal with the swimmer for his own reality TV show, What Would Ryan Lochte Do?, which premiered last spring.
But those days are all over now, says Lochte, who ended his brief stint with reality TV after one season and remains adamant we won’t see him racing royalty in Las Vegas pools at three in the morning again any time soon. (The swimmer did indeed once race Prince Harry in a now-infamous incident outside a Vegas club in 2012.) “No, you won’t see any of that anymore,” says Lochte of the early-morning matchup, which we assume the three-time Olympian won. “Especially when it’s two years out from the Olympics.”
Especially, too, when the 2016 Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, could include rival Michael Phelps, the only swimmer with more medals than Lochte—who in April announced that he was coming out of retirement. But Lochte says he looks forward to having Phelps back in the pool. “Me and him, we both push each other,” says the two-time world record holder. “He knows I’m working out hard, and I know he’s working out hard, and that rivalry we’ve created is really good for the sport.” To learn just how hard Lochte works out, keep reading.
29 years old
Current training grounds: Charlotte, N.C.
Nickname: Stick Boy. “I was the skinniest, scrawniest little kid. I was like five-nine and 147 pounds.” Gawky kids around the country can take hope in that.
Hours spent training per day: Up to six. “It varies every day because I either have two practices or one. Usually I do up to four hours in the pool and then some dry-land stuff for another hour or two.”
Days spent training per week: Six. “I take Sundays off.”
Hours spent in the weight room per week: Up to seven.
Calories consumed per day: Up to 8,000 during hard training. “Carbs are my friends.”
Favorite pre-race meal: Gatorade energy bar. “I try not to eat so much before an actual race—I don’t want to be so full when I’m swimming.”
Favorite post-race meal: Steak with mashed potatoes, salad, steamed vegetables, and garlic bread. “I try to get the biggest steak possible. I try to get as much protein and carbs in as quickly as possible.”
Typical dinner: Any kind of meat with vegetables and rice. “I really like sweet potatoes. My cook makes all these special dishes from sweet potatoes.” To learn more about Lochte’s cook, Glenn Lyman, also the personal chef of LeBron James, click here.
Celebration meal: A Big Mac with large fries, a 10-piece chicken nugget, two hot apple pies, an extra Double Cheeseburger, and a large Dr. Pepper. “I’ll go to McDonald’s and just have a spree.” You call that a spree? Please.
Biggest dietary vice: Mountain Dew and salt-and-vinegar potato chips. “I try not to worry about [bad foods], because in swimming you burn so many calories, it gives you leeway to enjoy other things. But [Mountain Dew and salt-and-vinegar potato chips] are always in my kitchen. Those are my favorite things, but I don’t eat or drink them everyday.”
On flipping tires for his secret workout: “I think I’m only swimmer who’s ever done it … And I think it helps me because it works on pure strength, power, and explosion. — Ryan Lochte
Essential workout: A two-hour swim session followed by two hours of Olympic-style weightlifting. “It’s hard, but I know that when I’m doing it, it’s going to make me that much better than everyone else. After a hard workout, you feel good about yourself, too. Those are my favorite days—you go home [after], take a nap, have some lunch, and do the same thing again in the afternoon.” Lochte says he does this workout three times per week.
Secret workout: Flipping 650- to 850-pound tires over. “They’re the big tires you see in Strongman competitions—I’ll do six sets of five tire flips in a row. I think I’m only swimmer who’s ever done it … And I think it helps me because it works on pure strength, power, and explosion. I can correlate that to swimming in getting off the blocks a lot faster.”
Biggest physical challenge: Improving as an athlete. “You get to a certain point, especially in swimming, and it’s hard to find different ways to make yourself better. The littlest thing could only make you better by maybe one-one-hundredth of a second. But in swimming, that could mean getting a world record or missing it.” Lochte currently holds two world records, in the 200 and 400 individual medley.
Where he keeps his five gold medals: Not on his mantel at home. “My mom has most of them. And [my publicist] has some for when I do appearances.”
Why he gave up reality TV: “Reality TV wasn’t really reality TV. It wasn’t you acting it out. Some of it was scripted.” Seriously? We’re shocked.
Best advice for any kid with big hopes in the pool: “Just go out there and have fun. That’s honestly the best advice because, even at a young age, these kids train so hard—they train harder than some college kids. So by they time they get to college, they get burned out. But if you keep it fun and interesting … If you have a dream, you have a goal. And if you have a goal, you have a purpose of going into the pool everyday.”