Sports Illustrated's Fittest 50 2020

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Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fittest of them all?

All elite athletes are in superb physical condition, but what happens when you level the playing field and compare athletes of all shapes and sizes in disparate sports?

Sports Illustrated accepted the challenge and ranked the best-conditioned male and female athletes in the world, consulting trainers, exercise physiologists and performance experts with experience across the college, pro and Olympic levels of sports to evaluate athletes on the following criteria: performances over the last 12 months; demands and risks of their respective sports; durability; training regimens and other physical benchmarks including power, speed, strength, agility, endurance, flexibility and more.

Count down to see the fittest male and female athletes in the world right now.

MEET THE EXPERTS

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FITTEST WOMEN

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Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics

If you needed a reminder that WNBA star Elena Delle Donne is a badass, the 30-year-old provided one during the 2019 Finals. The Washington Mystics forward suffered three herniated disks during Game 2, but Delle Donne returned for the final three games, pushing through the pain to help lead the team to their first championship title. Delle Donne was named 2019 WNBA MVP for her record-breaking efforts during the season—feats that are likely a product of her conditioning level, durability and commitment to fitness.

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Brigid Kosgei, Marathon

After Eliud Kipchoge broke the two-hour marathon barrier in October 2019, Brigid Kosgei made history of her own just 24 hours later, breaking the women's marathon record set by Paula Radcliffe by more than a minute with a 2:14:04 finish at the Chicago Marathon. A mother of twins, the 25-year-old says she is fueled by the challenges she faced during her childhood.

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Katie Zaferes, Triathlon

After four consecutive podium finishes in 2019, American and 2016 Olympian Katie Zaferes currently sits at the top of the ITU World Triathlon Series standings, and she has her eyes set on Tokyo 2020. The 30-year-old’s varied training regimen includes lots of hills and she makes sure to log miles on tired legs, right off the bike, to mimic the intensity of the triathlon transition.

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Kyra Condie, Rock Climbing

Headed to Tokyo to represent Team USA for sport climbing’s Olympic debut in 2020, 23-year-old American Kyra Condie is the definition of a badass. Her rock-solid, 5'4" frame is the result of climbing for more than half her life, since she first tried the sport as a 10-year-old at a birthday party. At age 12, Condie underwent major back surgery to correct scoliosis, but she never let that stop her from ascending to new heights in the sport. Condie builds conditioning and muscular strength through various hangboard exercises, speed-wall sessions, bouldering practices and more—but no matter what, it’s always done with a powerful, positive attitude.

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Maggie Steffens, Water Polo

Already a water polo legend, 26-year-old Maggie Steffens is gearing up for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where she’ll look to lead Team USA to a third-straight Olympic water polo title. A member of every title-winning team in the last decade at the Olympics, World Cup and worlds, the 5'8", 165-pound Steffens is an absolute force when it comes to fitness, from full-body, underwater training moves to intense lifts in the gym.

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Kendall Coyne Schofield, Hockey

In 2019, Kendall Coyne Schofield made history by becoming the first woman to compete in the NHL All-Star skills competition, finishing seventh in the league’s fastest skater event with a time of 14.346 seconds. With just one lap, Olympic gold medalist Coyne Schofield announced herself—and her incredible conditioning, speed and agility—and that trailblazing moment reverberated throughout the sports world.

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Simone Manuel, Swimming

At just 22 years old, Simone Manuel made history in 2019 by becoming the first U.S. woman to complete a sweep of the 50- and 100-meter freestyle races at the world championships, while also breaking the 100-meter world record. A four-time Olympic medalist who is eyeing Tokyo 2020, Manuel spends most of her time training in the water (sometimes two sessions per day) but she also incorporates weightlifting workouts that target her shoulders, core and legs.

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Caroline Marks, Surfing

She’s only 17, but Caroline Marks is already making waves in the surfing world—and beyond. The 2018 WSL Rookie of the Year finished 2019 ranked No. 2 and was one of the first women to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It’s all a product of her dedication and commitment—the 5'5", 127-pound Marks wakes up at 4 a.m. to train for the balance, endurance, strength and mental skills needed while on the board and in the water.

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Valentina Shevchenko, UFC

They don’t call UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko “Bullet” for no reason. The 5'5", 125-pound fighter earned her nickname because of her speed in the octagon, and she continues to prove why she is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. In February 2019, Shevchenko will look to extend her 4-0 record in the flyweight division and defend her belt against Katlyn Chookagian.

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Gwen Jorgensen, Track and Field

2016 Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen completed an incredible feat when just 71 days after winning gold, she set out to run the NYC Marathon and placed 14th in her first-ever attempt at the 26.2-mile distance. While she has since switched her focus for the 2020 Olympics from marathon to the 10,000 meters, Jorgensen still embodies an unmatched level of conditioning, proving she is dominant in the triathlon, on the roads and on the track.

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Allyson Felix, Track and Field

After giving birth to her daughter on Nov. 29, 2018, via emergency C-section at 32 weeks due to life-threatening preeclampsia, Allyson Felix surged back and won her first gold medal as a mom in September 2019, as part of the U.S. 4 x 400 relay team with a split of 50.4 seconds. With the win, the 33-year-old broke Usain Bolt’s record for the most gold medals in world championship history with 12, adding to her legacy as the most decorated female track and field athlete at the Olympics, with nine medals in four appearances. And Felix isn’t done yet—she’s pushing through setbacks and training in the gym and on the track as she prepares for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

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Daniela Ryf, Triathlon

While Daniela Ryf had an uncharacteristic, disappointing showing at the Ironman World Championships in Kona in 2019, the Swiss triathlete still reigns at the top of her sport. After finishing 12th in Kona, citing a stomach bug, Ryf’s streak of four consecutive titles came to an end, but just a few weeks before that, the 32-year-old reminded us why she is one of the best-conditioned athletes on earth. Ryf won her fifth Ironman 70.3 world title in Nice, France, becoming the first athlete of any gender to capture the Ironman 70.3 World Championship title five times.

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Caterine Ibargüen, Track and Field

A 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the triple jump, Caterine Ibargüen captured the bronze medal at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, in 2019. Ibarguen mixes sprinting sessions, technical training and weightlifting into her training as she works to perfect her explosive and powerful long jump and triple jump performances.

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Serena Williams, WTA Tennis

For 38-year-old Serena Williams, 2020 is all about one quest: claiming a record-tying, 24th Grand Slam victory. Although she has not won a major title since 2017, Serena is a consistent threat in any tournament she enters, and her ability to return to and remain at that level in a competitive tennis environment (especially after a difficult childbirth) is a testament to her long-standing commitment to fitness. Her booming serves, powerful groundstrokes and movement on the court are striking proof.

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Julie Ertz, USWNT and Chicago Red Stars

While her teammate Megan Rapinoe may have captured the headlines from the USWNT’s World Cup win in 2019, Julie Ertz was a critical part of the team’s success, impacting both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. On the field, the 27-year-old is known for toughness, stamina and strength, especially as a ball-winner, and she doesn’t shy away from intense training off of it.

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Dina Asher-Smith, Track and Field

Building on her breakout 2018 season, British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith continued to make history in 2019, capturing the 200-meter gold medal at the World Championships in Doha in dominating fashion. The 24-year-old broke her own national record with a 21.88-second finish, becoming the first British woman ever to win a major sprint title. As she prepares for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Asher-Smith is training six days a week, mixing high intensity running workouts with gym sessions that focus on stability, coordination and power.

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Courtney Dauwalter, Ultrarunning

Colorado native Courtney Dauwalter doesn’t just run extremely long races, she destroys them, beating both men and women in arduous endurance events that test the strength, stamina and spirit of both the body and mind. In September 2019, the 34-year-old tackled the grueling 171 km (106 miles) of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc ultramarathon race in Chamonix, France, in 24 hours, 34 minutes and 26 seconds, posting the second-fastest time among the entire U.S. team.

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Emma Coburn, Track and Field

After a silver-medal finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2019 World Championships, 29-year-old Emma Coburn is looking to add to her hardware haul at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and improve on her third-place finish from Rio 2016. Coburn is confident in her conditioning, and she prides herself on challenging the typical “lean and fragile” body type of middle- or long-distance runners. You won’t just see her logging miles on the track—Coburn’s shredded physique also comes from adding in resistance and functional movement training to her full-body workouts.

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Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Track and Field

Nearly 24 years after U.S. sprinter Michael Johnson won gold in the 200- and 400-meter races at the Olympics, Bahamian sprinter Shaunae Miller-Uibo is set to repeat the feat in Tokyo 2020. Already a 400-meter gold medalist in Rio 2016, Miller-Uibo made some noise in 2019, winning a silver medal in the 400 meters at the World Championships and posting the fastest 200-meter time in ’19. Miller-Uibo’s ripped physique doesn’t just come from sprint workouts on the track, as she also focuses on lifting workouts that help build speed.

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Tia-Clair Toomey, CrossFit

Have you seen Tia-Clair Toomey’s shredded six pack? In 2019, the Australian native made history by becoming the first woman to win three CrossFit Games titles, after taking home the “Fittest on Earth” crown the past two years in 2018 and ’17 (and finishing runner-up in ’16 and ’15.) An Olympic weightlifter who competed at Rio 2016, the 5'3", 128-pound Toomey not only dominates in traditional lifting exercises—she swept the mixed-gender field in the swim paddle event at the 2019 CrossFit Games.

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Katie Ledecky, Swimming

With five Olympic gold and 15 world championship gold medals on her résumé, Katie Ledecky has already made history, but the 22-year-old isn’t done yet. She’s preparing for her third Olympics in Tokyo this summer, fitting in 10 swim practices (sometimes twice a day) and weight-training sessions (focused on core strength and endurance) per week, in between the competitions leading up to the Games. With Ledecky, world records are never safe, especially as she looks to cement her dominance in the sport.

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Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine Skiing

The list of accolades for Mikaela Shiffrin is lengthy: the youngest slalom champion in Olympic history; the youngest skier to earn 50 World Cup race wins; the first skier—of any gender—to earn $1 million in prize money in a single season; 66 (and counting) World Cup victories … and so on. So, it should come as no surprise that the 24-year-old is disciplined and regimented when it comes to her training, keeping detailed data logs, prioritizing sleep and hitting the gym as hard as she hits the slopes.

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Claressa Shields, Boxing

The greatest female boxer in history? It’s hard to dispute that Claressa Shields deserves the honors. A two-time Olympic gold medalist who’s aiming for another in Tokyo 2020, Shields also owns two world titles at super middleweight and holds the undisputed middleweight title. In January 2020, the American captured the vacant super welterweight titles as well, becoming the fastest boxer in history to win world titles in three weight classes. And if you thought she was stopping there, think again: Shields has bold aspirations to make a transition to MMA in 2021, and she’s already started training, adding kickboxing, jiujitsu and more to her routine.

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Amanda Nunes, UFC

Undefeated for more than five years now, Amanda Nunes is arguably the UFC’s GOAT. Standing at 5'8" with a 69" reach, Nunes is tenacious and tactical in the octagon, mixing thunderous strikes, knockout head kicks, spinning techniques and underrated grappling skills. Currently the champion of the UFC’s bantamweight and featherweight divisions, Nunes’s workouts consist of sparring sessions, sprints and agility work, high-intensity lifting exercises and more.

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Simone Biles, Gymnastics

At age 22, Simone Biles is already the most dominant gymnast ever, and though she stands at just 4'9", she continues to eclipse the competition and push the limits of her sport. Biles will take the stage at the Tokyo 2020 Games, hoping to add to her four gold medals from Rio 2016, after spending 2019 crushing more records and raking in even more hardware, winning five more gold medals at the 2019 World Championships to become the most decorated gymnast ever, with 25 medals total. Biles’s mastery of the vault, balance beam, floor exercise and more demonstrate the diversity of her conditioning, power, flexibility and strength. There’s no denying that Biles is an all-around athlete in every aspect of the word.

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FITTEST MEN

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Ryan Crouser, Track and Field

Ryan Crouser was offered an NFL tryout ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games, but after he found success on the U.S. shot put team, the 6'7" and 310-pounder never stepped foot on the football field. Crouser went on to win gold in shot put in Rio, thanks to an intense regimen of heavy weightlifting sessions and, surprisingly, gymnastics and yoga, which help him build strength while remaining flexible and agile.

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Bryson DeChambeau, Golf

Say what you want about golfers being unconditioned: 26-year-old Bryson DeChambeau is obsessed with working out in the gym, focusing on core and other movements that he hopes will pay off on the course. Besides bulking up, the 6'1", 205-pound DeChambeau focuses on muscle activation techniques, strength and mental fitness.

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Eliud Kipchoge, Marathon

For Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge, 2019 was a year of historical achievements. In October in a non-record-eligible time trial event, the 35-year-old ran a marathon in one hour, 59 minutes, 40 seconds, becoming the first person to break two hours for the 26.2-mile distance. Already an Olympic gold medalist, Kipchoge is currently training his 5'6", 115-pound body into an even finer-tuned marathon machine for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

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Michael Lorenzen, Cincinnati Reds

If you follow Cincinnati Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen on social media, you’re more likely to see him inside of a gym than on a baseball diamond. The 6'3", 180-pounder is known for his intense training regimen, which includes everything from hill sprints to weightlifting, to resistance band exercises and, of course, baseball-specific drills.

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Jan Frodeno, Triathlon

Germany’s Jan Frodeno captured his third Ironman Kona title in October 2019, breaking the course record in the process with a time of seven hours and 51 minutes. The 2008 Olympic champion, Frodeno has climbed his way up in the sport since he made a transition to long-course racing in 2013, even after some obstacles in 2017 and ’18.

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Jim Walmsley, Ultrarunning

Competing at the ultramarathon distance, Jim Walmsley logs thousands of miles per year between training and race days. This year, the 30-year-old from Arizona broke the course record at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (the Super Bowl of endurance running) for the second consecutive year. Now, Walmsley is demonstrating his endurance and versatility as he attempts to qualify for the 2020 Olympic marathon trials.

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Italo Ferreira, Surfing

2019 World Champion Italo Ferreira has quickly made his mark in the surfing world with his explosive, high-flying style. The energetic Brazilian is one of the strongest surfers on the tour, and he’s currently training for the 2020 Olympics with high-intensity workouts that include everything from battle ropes to sandbags, kettlebells and more.

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Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

How does one sculpt a Hulk-like, 6'1", 284-pound body? Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has been working at it since high school, when he’d wake up early to fit in an extra lifting session before classes. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year is an absolute force on the field, terrorizing offenses with his pass-rushing tactics and punishing opponents with his explosiveness and brute strength.

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Kílian Jornet, Ultrarunning

Spanish ultra-athlete Kílian Jornet knows no boundaries—he’s spent years traversing some of the world’s toughest terrains, either by running, skiing or climbing, often in adverse conditions. A six-time champion of the long-distance Skyrunner World Series race, Jornet’s 5'6", 128-pound physique is slim but swift and efficient, demonstrating how fitness isn’t always about body mass or bulky muscles.

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Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat

Miami Heat guard Jimmy Butler may be an NBA veteran, but he still trains like he’s just getting started in the league. Standing at 6'8" and 230 pounds, Butler’s regimen includes on-court basketball sessions, agility training, weightlifting workouts and more—it’s all designed to build endurance, body control and overall strength.

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Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah is not shy when it comes to flaunting his chiseled six pack—it’s not unusual to see him ripping off his jersey after scoring a goal, which happens quite often when you’re Premier League’s top scorer for two-straight seasons. The “Egyptian King,” who also helped his club reach a second consecutive UEFA Champions League Final in 2019, adds weightlifting sessions to his long training days and prioritizes recovery, using pool exercises, stretching and other methods to keep his physique in peak condition.

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Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

At just 24 years old, the Kansas City Chiefs’ QB is officially a Super Bowl champion (and the game’s MVP) after leading his team to a 31-20 come-from-behind victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Since his breakout year in ’18, the 6'3", 229-pound Mahomes has demonstrated his superior arm strength, athleticism and mobility with dazzling plays and near-impossible throws. A former top baseball prospect (and son of an MLB player), Mahomes has brought over some baseball training and injury prevention techniques into his football workouts, making sure his arms and shoulders are strong, but also supple.

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Conor McGregor, UFC

After retiring from MMA in 2018 after his fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov, 31-year-old Conor McGregor made a victorious return to the octagon in January 2020, knocking out Cowboy Cerrone at UFC 246 in just 40 seconds with swift, explosive strikes. With the win, McGregor became the first UFC fighter to hold knockouts in three different weight classes, and “The Notorious” proved that even after 15 months away from the sport, he didn’t lose his signature power, precision and panache.

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Rafael Nadal, ATP Tennis

In 2019, 33-year-old Rafael Nadal became the oldest player to finish the ATP season at year-end No. 1, a record 11 years after he first claimed the top spot in the rankings. A fierce, tireless competitor, Nadal also captured a historic 12th French Open title and a fourth U.S. Open trophy in ’19, and he led Spain to a sixth Davis Cup title, putting on a display of his superior footwork, endurance and booming forehands every time he took the court.

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Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry led the NFL in rushing in 2019, finishing the regular season with a career-high 1,540 yards on 303 carries and 16 touchdowns. Henry’s 6'3", 238-pound body is built like a linebacker’s, but he pairs his bruising physicality with the agility, explosive speed and quick feet of a ballcarrier. The fourth-year pro was the only running back in the league to average more than 100 rushing yards per game (102.7) this season.

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Caeleb Dressel, Swimming

During swimming’s biggest event outside of the Olympics—the World Swimming Championships—in July 2019, American Caeleb Dressel won a record eight gold medals, surpassing the mark set by Michael Phelps. Dressel is poised to be one of the triumphant stars for Team USA at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and the 23-year-old is taking his preparation seriously, stacking two-a-days in the pool with weightlifting sessions in the gym to add strength to his 6'3", 190-pound frame and build on his explosive power off the blocks.

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LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Though he started the 2019–20 season with injury setbacks, 35-year-old LeBron James is undeniably one of the best-conditioned athletes in all of sports. In his 17th NBA season, James has proved that longevity is a key focus of his career, and he’s mastered the art of sculpting and strengthening his 6'8", 250-pound specimen physique for the demands of the NBA. After James secured third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in January 2020, it’s clear that he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

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Jordan Burroughs, Wrestling

Two-time Olympic wrestling champion Jordan Burroughs has moved on from his disappointing finish in Rio 2016, but he hasn’t forgotten. The 31-year-old American is motivated by his last Olympic experience as he prepares for Tokyo 2020, using meditation to train his mind and a variety of weightlifting exercises, yoga, plyometrics and more to sculpt his strapping 5'7" physique. As Burroughs chases more gold medals, he is also considering an MMA career post-wrestling, a nod to his all-around conditioning and explosiveness.

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Jon Jones, UFC

For nearly a decade, Jon Jones has dominated the UFC light heavyweight division, and he’ll once again defend his belt on Feb. 8, against Dominick Reyes at UFC 247. The 32-year-old may be known as “Bones,” but don’t let the nickname fool you: Jones packs a lot of muscle on his 6’4” frame, while still remaining agile and assertive with his creative attacks in the octagon.

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Christian Coleman, Track and Field

American sprinter Christian Coleman captured the 100-meter gold medal at the World Athletics Championships in September 2019 with a scorching-fast time of 9.76 seconds. With the performance, the 23-year-old became the sixth fastest man in history, but Coleman’s future as a sprinting champion is still under debate. He missed three doping tests in 12 months ahead of the race, but was ultimately cleared to compete by the U.S. Anti-Doping Association. As he readies for a potential breakout at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Coleman is training his 5'9", 159-pound body on a daily basis with sprint-distance track workouts, hill running and technical training for acceleration speed off the blocks.

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Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus

Is there a more famed six pack in sports than Cristiano Ronaldo’s set of perfectly chiseled abs? The 34-year-old Juventus star isn’t shy about showing off his hard work after scoring on the pitch, but his fitness level goes beyond his physical appearance. Ronaldo has superior sprinting speed, stamina and the brawn to stave off defenders—it’s all a product of his obsession with fitness and his commitment to a healthy diet and proper sleep.

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Canelo Álvarez, Boxing

2019 marked another impressive year for Mexican boxer Canelo Álvarez, who defeated Daniel Jacobs to unify middleweight titles in May and then jumped up two divisions to light middleweight in November, battling Sergey Kovalev for 11 rounds before delivering an unforgettable punishing knockout. The 29-year-old’s ability to move up weight classes without surrendering punching power, explosiveness or stamina speaks to his elite level of conditioning.

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Mat Fraser, CrossFit

For the fourth year in a row, 30-year-old Mat Fraser was named “Fittest Man on Earth” after winning the 2019 CrossFit Games, joining Rich Froning as the only men to come out on top at the event for four consecutive years. The 5'7", 195-pound Fraser earned his ’19 title by mastering a variety of fitness challenges, ranging from Olympic lifts to sprint courses, swimming races, burpees, handstand walks and more. Now, Fraser is training to make history once again in 2020.

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Novak Djokovic, ATP Tennis

After capturing two majors and three ATP titles during the 2019 season, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic continued his winning ways in ’20, adding Grand Slam trophy No. 17 to his already impressive résumé with a victory over Dominic Thiem at the 2020 Australian Open. The 32-year-old is strategic about his training and nutrition so that his 6'2", 176-pound frame can generate the speed needed to chase down a ball, the power required to slap a serve across the net, and the flexibility to stretch for a backhand return—all over the course of the grueling, 11-month tennis calendar.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

In his first year in the league, Giannis Antetokounmpo was 6'9" and 196 pounds—no doubt a towering figure in any sport. But since then, the Milwaukee Bucks star has added a few inches and bulked up his already-intimidating frame to a menacing 6'11" and 242 pounds, with a 7'3" wingspan, a testament to his commitment to overall fitness and conditioning for the rigors of the NBA. This season, Antetokounmpo has improved in nearly every aspect of the game, from three-point shooting to usage rate, assists and more. He can score in the paint, he can sink shots from the outside and he’s a dynamic playmaker, which is why the 25-year-old is in the running to win a second-straight MVP award at the end of the year. When you have the courage to challenge the Rock in the weight room, it becomes clear why Antetokounmpo is known as the “Greek Freak.”