While all pro athletes are committed to staying in shape, some are more dedicated than others. Athletes were assessed on many factors, including physical benchmarks such as strength, speed, endurance, agility, flexibility and power, and performances in the last 12 months. SI searched gyms, fields, courts, tracks and trails around the world to find the best-conditioned athletes across all sports.
Count down to see who is the fittest female athlete in the world right now.
Graff became a star thanks to her accomplishments on American Ninja Warrior, but her superb level of physical fitness extends beyond the obstacle course. From a black belt in Taekwondo and Kung Fu, to pole-vaulting and gymnastics, the 33-year-old New York-native is unafraid and unmatched when it comes to any type of challenge. It’s no wonder she is also a professional stuntwoman.
After missing the Summer Olympics in Rio due to a hip injury, track star Jones has said her aim is to make it to Pyeongchang in ’18 for her other sport: bobsledding. The 35-year-old is still looking for that first Olympic medal (she finished 7th in 100-m hurdles in 2008 and 4th in 2012), and so in 2014, she completed her transition to bobsledding, becoming one of just nine American athletes in the history of the Olympics to compete in both the Summer and Winter Games. The training gives her a unique mix of skills: for track, she’s said it’s more of a focus on lighter weights and more reps, while bobsled requires more emphasis on strength and deadlift.
The 31-year-old Dutch veteran won her fifth European all-around title at the beginning of 2017, proving that the eight-time Olympic medalist will still be a threat at the 2018 Winter Games, more than a decade after her first Olympic appearance. Wust prepares her body for the speed skating track with cycling workouts, resisted jumps and sprints, box squats and more.
24-year-old DiGiulian made history in August by becoming the first female to ascent Mora Mora in Madagascar, one of the most difficult multi-pitch free climbs in the world. Besides the climbing gym, the Columbia University grad also incorporates strength-training sessions into her regimen.
Last summer, Ibargüen won Colombia’s first-ever gold medal in track and field and it was the exclamation point on years of dominance following her silver medal from London. From Nov. 17, 2012 to June 2, 2016, no one was able to beat Ibargüen in 34 triple jump contests. She grew up playing volleyball before being discovered by a coach who convinced her to try athletics and now she holds Colombia’s high jump, long jump and triple jump records.
The WNBA MVP in 2015, Delle Donne is known for incorporating a mixed bag of high-intensity workouts into her typical basketball skills drills on the court. From boxing to TRX and more, Delle Donne even joins in on her mom’s “crazy” workouts. Though she is sidelined for part of the summer with a thumb injury, expect the 6’5” Mystics star forward to rehab and grind her way back into the team’s rotation.
Since her breakout performance at the 2009 World Championships, Semenya has proven to be the most dominant woman in the 800 meters, but not without controversy. Due to a condition called hyperandrogenism, Semenya’s body produces more testosterone than other women; the IAAF previously had a rule that forced her to undergo hormone replacement therapy. Her performance suffered from 2013 until the rule was suspended in 2015. Semenya has not lost an 800-meter race since Sept. 2015; the IAAF is trying to re-implement the rule.
Catanzaro stands at 5-foot and 100 pounds but she doesn’t have the nickname Mighty Kacy for nothing. A former Division I gymnast, Catanzaro was the first woman to finish the American Ninja Warrior course and since then, she’s embraced life as a professional obstacle course racer—and a fitness inspo for women around the world.
Keitany wowed spectators in April as she broke Paula Radcliffe’s women’s-only marathon record with a 2:17:01 victory at the London Marathon. Keitany has been running the marathon since 2010 and has had two kids in her seven years of competing. The marathon is unforgiving and an elite’s reign at the top doesn’t last very long, yet she’s won the New York City and London Marathons three times each and will be going for a fourth title in the Big Apple in November.
30-year-old Simpson continues to make her case as one of the greatest American distance runners of all-time. In August she added a silver medal at the IAAF World Championships to her collection that already includes a gold from the 2011 World Championships, a silver from 2013 World Championships and a bronze from last summer's Olympics, making her the first American woman to medal at the 1,500-meter distance at the Olympics.
Stephens underwent foot surgery in February and took time away from the court to recover, dropping her ranking from the top 20 to outside the top 900. But since returning, she’s come back stronger than ever—the 5’7" American is no stranger to tough lifting and gym workouts. In Sept., Stephens proved hard work pays off by winning her first major title at the 2017 U.S. Open.
You may know the weightlifter from Apopka, Fla., from a viral Instagram video of her dropping a bar that rolled into and broke a window. After getting her start in CrossFit, Rogers is already on her way to becoming a weightlifting star. Adding to her list of record-setting performances, Rogers set a new American record for the clean and jerk at USAW Nationals this year.
Don’t let her sport fool you—Patrick’s level of fitness extends far beyond the racetrack. America’s most successful female racecar driver is also a die-hard yogi and also adds CrossFit and strength training into her daily workouts. Considering her regimen, it’s no surprise Patrick sports an enviable six pack under her race suit.
Paralyzed below the waist at birth by spina bifida, McFadden was equipped with a wheelchair at age 8. Since then, she’s build an impressive racing career in track and field events and longer distances, ranging from the 100-meter race to the marathon, including seven Paralympic golds and six silvers and wins in all four major U.S. marathons. She’ll finish up 2017 at the NYC Marathon where she’ll try to win a fifth-straight gold medal.
Teter has her eyes on more hardware at PyeongChang 2018. The two-time halfpipe snowboarding Olympic medalist focuses her training on building strength, explosiveness and endurance, adding mountain biking and standup paddle boarding and using trampolines to help perfect her “corks,” or inverted, spinning aerials, considered one of the sport’s most difficult tricks.
She’s only 23 but Muguruza already has two Grand Slam titles to her name. Her training program doesn’t include anything out of the ordinary—she says she focuses on nutrition, workout sessions and recovery, including massages and physical therapy—but it seems to be paying off for the rising Spanish star.
In one of the biggest surprises in the sport’s history, Coburn became the first American woman to not just medal but also win gold in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2017 IAAF World Championships. In the process, she broke her own American record and set a new world championship record of 9:02.58. In a 7.5 lap race that throws in one water jump and four barriers per lap, Coburn defines tough and clutch.
Like Fitzgibbons, Conlogue is part of a new wave of young surfers who are helping to ditch the stereotype that surfers only train in the water. On land, 25-year-old Conlogue hits the gym to build lower-body power, stability and rotational strength, which help her conquer the big waves in the ocean when she’s on her board.
Age ain't nothing but a number. The most decorated female cyclist in U.S. history, Armstrong notched her third consecutive Olympic cycling time trial gold medal last year in Rio, just one day before her 43rd birthday. She conquered the 29.9 KM course in 44:26:42. "For so long we've been told that we should be finished at a certain age," she said last year. "I think that there's a lot of athletes out there that are actually showing that's not true."
Johnson-Thompson is one of Great Britain’s biggest track and field stars and looks to follow in the footsteps of 2012 Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill. Her personal best of 6,691 points over the seven events is knocking on the door of the elusive 7,000+ club and she also adds boxing, gymnastics skills exercises and more to her traditional sprint workouts on the track.
After winning the Olympic gold medal in both London and Rio, Harrison is ready to move on from Judo. What's next, though, is unclear. She recently wrote about how her love for judo and her commitment to training helped get her through some extremely difficult times in her life. Now, though retired, she still "has some fire left," as she wrote in CNN. There have been talks of a potential MMA career, and though the mat vs. the cage is a difficult adjustment, Harrison certainly has shown the resiliency, dedication and strength to succeed in a new, challenging sport.
Ashley Fliehr, aka Charlotte, is more than just a WWE star. She competed internationally in gymnastics for seven years, won three cheerleading national championships, played volleyball and basketball and did swimming, diving, ballet and track and field. She’s an all-around athlete and goes all-in on workouts so she can perform in the ring.
At only 25 years old, Colombian BMX rider Pajón is already a two-time Olympic gold medalist with more than a dozen world championship titles. When she’s not on the bike, you can find Pajón in the surf, sand or snow—or in the gym. From CrossFit-type workouts and Pilates, to outdoor sports like surfing and skiing, Pajón has a passion for staying active.
Don’t let her age fool you—16-year-old Shiraishi is on her way to becoming one of the greatest rock climbers ever. In rock climbing gyms and suspending in the air off cliffs around the world, the New York-native has an unreal level of strength, stamina and flexibility—plus a fearless mentality—that help her ascend seemingly impossible routes.
Cris “Cyborg” Justino is finally a UFC champ. After years of total MMA domination (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC, a 12-year undefeated run) that somehow still flew under the radar due to Ronda Rousey's UFC reign, the 145-pound Brazilian finally was given a title match of her own, winning the featherweight belt against Tonya Evinger at UFC 214 in July. Her career hasn't gone without controversy—she tested positive for stanozolol in December of 2011 and then tested positive in December, 2016 for a diuretic, but the fact remains that she is the most feared MMA fighter out there. As for her next opponent? She's got her sights set on Holly Holm.
#ufc214 is a month away and I am bigger, faster, and stronger than I've ever been in my life. My team was very smart about my return to 145. After two consecutive fights at 140 we have spent the last year focusing on regaining my strength and power, but keeping the speed I gained by going to 140. #ufcanaheim against one of the biggest featherweights in the world I am going to showcase just how explosive I've become!! I hope #cyborgnation is ready to fill Orange County July 29! ================ #ufc114 está a um mês de distância estou maior, mais rápida e mais forte do que eu já estive na minha vida. Minha equipe foi muito inteligente sobre o meu retorno para 145. Depois de duas lutas consecutivas em 140libras, passamos o ano passado com foco em recuperar minha força, mas mantendo a velocidade que ganhei indo para 140. #ufcanaheim contra uma das maiores pesos de pena No mundo, vou mostrar o quão explosivo eu me tornei! Espero que #cyborgnation esteja pronto para preencher a arena em Anaheim 29 de julho! #blessed #thankfull @kennethleverich 👊 @dacikfitfoods
Diggins-Smith's competitive nature is present in her training, where she has said she always makes a point to put the extra minute and extra rep into her workout. The 5'9" guard has emphasized core strength with kettle balls, and some of her most effective workouts are those that include repetition without a ton of rest in between. An example from a workout of hers with trainer Rick Freeman: 100 speed ropes, 10 burpees, 25 sit-ups, 20 knee-to-chest jumps.
The world’s fastest woman isn’t a household name yet but Bowie is on her way to becoming a USA track and field legend. She brought home a gold, silver and bronze medal at last summer’s Olympics. Her best moment came this summer as she won gold in the 100 and 4x100 relay. For someone who solely decided to focus on sprinting just three years ago, it’s been an impressive progression—and an impressive display of superior fitness.
27-year-old Webb was barely edged out by fellow Australian Tia-Clair Toomey at the 2017 CrossFit Games, taking second overall in her sixth appearance. Even though she hasn’t won the “Fittest on Earth” title just yet, Webb is an incredible athlete with unbelievable strength and versatility. From muscle-ups and cleans, to thrusters and double-unders, Webb can do it all.
I sat in the car for 15 minutes this morning trying to conjure up the courage to step foot in the gym. Then I remembered that I wanna be a f*$king champion so I better get my ass in there and get to work. @mattsaund0 being my lil rock as per usual ❤️ #StopExercising #StartTraining #niketraining #thefinalhour #lastround 7 rounds: In 3 minutes complete - 15 thrusters 35kg - 400m run - max bar muscle ups
The No. 2-ranked women’s strawweight fighter in the UFC, Kowalkiewicz has struggled in her previous two fights, but those losses don’t take away from the 31-year-old’s athleticism and superior conditioning. At 5’3” and 115 pounds, Poland’s Kowalkiewicz is skilled in Krav Maga, kickboxing and more.
Ranked No. 2 on the WSL 2017 Championship Tour, Fitzgibbons calls herself a “fitness enthusiast” and her solid six-pack is proof of her commitment. The 26-year-old Australian mixes cardio, high intensity circuits and flexibility exercises in with swimming, hiking, boxing and more. She even launched a fitness app called All Australian Beach Body, where you too can “Train Like Sally.”
Woohooo! Feeling all the good vibes coming my way for the AABB Live Darling Harbour workout this Saturday, August 12th! Can't wait to share the stage with @activeyogi for a yoga warm-up 👊💪 You won't want to miss out on this one! Grab your spot at allaustralianbeachbody.com #allaustralianbeachbody #trainlikesally #aabbfit
The 29-year-old captain of the U.S. Women’s Olympic team, Duggan has two Olympic silver medals (from 2010 and 2014) and will surely like to add a gold in 2018, particularly after the heartbreaking U.S. loss at the hands of Canada in Sochi. Duggan, currently a member of the Boston Pride, has cut the extra stress out of her life and decided to focus solely on her playing and training over the last year. She helps assess her workout plan with Omegawave technology, and emphasizes exercises based in speed, power and strength.
The two-time WNBA MVP and one of the league’s biggest stars has been with the Sparks for nearly a decade, and finally won her first championship in October, dedicating it to her mentor Pat Summitt. Her workouts include an emphasis on the core and lower body, including ladders, lunges and balance exercises, which she says translate well to the court.
Despite setbacks due to two shoulder injuries last year, three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings was able to find world-class form in Rio, thanks to pilates, meditation, soft-tissue massage work and even brain training. Even after an improbable fifth Olympic Games, 38-year-old Walsh Jennings is still going strong.
Morris not only made the Olympic team seven weeks after breaking her wrist but she also went on to win an Olympic silver medal. She is the American record holder in the pole vault and the only American woman to clear 5.00m. The world record is 5.06m by Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva and may someday soon be in her sights.
Moore has three WNBA championships in her seven years in the league and that barely even scratches the surface on the massive list of her accomplishments. She also has two Olympic gold medals, one World Championship, and two NCAA titles. What's her secret? Allowing her body to recover amid her seemingly nonstop game schedule. She focuses on her core, but doesn't do overdo her strength training—she'll instead do more reps with lower weight to help her with long-term endurance.
An Under Armour-endorsed athlete and American Ballet Theatre dancer, Copeland has helped change the standards of a typical ballerina physique to one that is strong, healthy, feminine and curvaceous. Copeland outlines her advice for achieving a sculpted figure and confidence in her recent health and fitness book, titled Ballerina Body.
An Arizona native and Santa Clara University alum, Ertz (née Johnston) is a hardcore defender who typically combines mobility work, soccer training sessions, weightlifting and Pilates—all on the same day. The 25-year-old will also team up with husband and Eagles tight end Zach for workouts, from standard gym sessions to MMA and more.
Shiffrin is only 22 but she’s quickly made history and reached the pinnacle of her sport. Already an Olympic gold medalist, Shiffrin won the women’s World Cup overall title—the sport’s top prize which requires excellence in four disclipines—in March, adding to her already impressive career. Just take one look at her Instagram and you’ll see how hard Shiffrin works for all she’s earned.
Holm is no stranger to hard work. The 5’8”, 135-lb southpaw—the first person, female or male, to win titles in both boxing and mixed martial arts—is dedicated to her training, be it sparring sessions, jiu jitsu or hardcore weightlifting and conditioning in the gym.
At the Rio 2016 Olympics, Jorgensen became the first American to win a gold medal in the Olympic triathlon. Then, just 71 days after winning gold, Jorgensen set out to run the NYC Marathon—her first-ever attempt that the 26.2-mile distance—and placed 14th overall 2:41:01 against a strong field. And even when she was seven months pregnant with her first child earlier this year, the 31-year-old logged 100 miles a week.
She’s battled with injuries throughout her career, but even broken bones haven’t stopped the 5’10”, 160-pound skier from wining medals. At age 32, Vonn is one of only six women to have won World Cup races in all five disciplines of Alpine skiing (downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and super combined) and she is super fit. From pull-ups to squats and everything in between, Vonn is a beast in the gym.
Even at 35 weeks pregnant Serena was killing her workouts. From medicine ball slams to sled pushes, the 23-time Grand Slam champion kept active throughout her pregnancy, leaving little doubt that she plans to get back on the court to return to a place of authority in women’s tennis. It’s only a matter of time before we’re watching in awe of her strength, power, agility and determination.
In 2008, Glover was a multisport athlete but she had never sat in a rowing boat. Now, with her coxless pair partner, Heather Stanning, she is a double Olympic champion. Stanning retired last November, but Glover, 31, is weighing a return for Tokyo 2020 and her training—ranging from swimming to rock climbing to cycling—is diverse as ever.
"There is a good chance, and there always has been, that the best athlete in the world is a woman." That's what Ashton Eaton tweeted shortly after 23-year-old Thiam scored an unreal 7,013 points in the heptathlon at a multi-events meet in Gotzis, Austria, earlier this year. The two-time Olympic decathlon champion and world record holder is right. Thiam is probably the best athlete that you've never heard of—and she can run faster, jump higher and throw farther than most.
“GWOAT”—that’s the word that 22-year-old, two-time Olympic gold medalist Shields used to describe herself after scoring a decisive TKO over Germany’s Nikki Alder, giving her the Women’s WBC and IBF Super Middleweight world titles. It’s hard to argue with her claim as The Greatest Woman Of All Time given her accomplishments, which are all a testament to her intense training and commitment to nutrition and overall conditioning.
An Australian native, Toomey made waves when she finished second at the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games as a rookie, after only two years of CrossFit training. After another second-place finish in 2016, Toomey, who is also an Olympian weightlifter, finally earned the “Fittest on Woman on Earth” title—and it doesn’t look like she’s going to stop competing any time soon.
A two-time Olympic gold medalist at only 24 years old, 5’8”, 165-pound Steffens is a leader in the pool as the team’s captain and her unmatched level of conditioning comes from hours of training in the gym. A typical day of training includes a weightlifting session, swimming laps and leg exercises in the pool, water polo practice drills and more, all in the span of one day.
Ledecky and dominance belong in the same sentence. The 6-foot, soft-spoken swimmer first made her stunning debut winning the 800-meter freestyle at the London Olympics at age 15. Last summer in Rio she left with five Olympic medals and this summer, she won her 14th gold medal in three world championships. We’re not afraid to say she’s the most dominant female swimmer in the world.
Felix has been America’s sprinting golden girl for a decade now and she plans to keep running through 2020. She competed in her first Olympics at just 18 years old in 2004 and is now the most decorated athlete in world championship history, winning a bronze medal in the 400 meters and gold in the 4x100 and 4x400 this summer. When it comes to dominance and longevity, Felix is it.
At the Rio 2016 Olympics, Biles reached a new level of greatness. Undeniably the world's best gymnast, 20-year-old Biles won five gold medals, including leading Team USA to victory in the team all-around competition. Standing at 4’9”, Biles may be small, but her training regimen is rigorous and demanding. It all makes her an unreal, unmatched and all-around athlete.