Athletes were assessed on six criteria, including strength: the pushing-off power of a pole vaulter or the ballistic backhand of a Grand Slam champion; speed: the top-end velocity of a sprinter or the quick-cut burst of a point guard; endurance: a cyclist’s ceaseless drive or a boxer’s ability to absorb punishment and keep punching; and agility: the fluid movements of a gymnast or the knife-edge balance of a downhill skier. Count down to see who is the fittest female athlete in the world right now.
The 6’5” 2015 WNBA MVP trained hard this offseason after her third season as a forward with the Chicago Sky. Back in her home state of Delaware, Delle Donne worked out at Hockessin Athletic Club, where she did boxing drills to work on footwork and hand-eye coordination, TRX exercises, kettle bell moves and more.
The 25-year-old Russian long jumper trains at the IMG Academy in Florida, and her Instagram feed is full of photos and videos of her various workouts. At 5′11″ and 126 pounds, Klishina enjoys outdoor activities such as stand-up paddleboarding, and in the gym she does single-leg squats, Bosu ball exercises and more to supplement her track workouts.
The 30-year-old Dutch long-track allround speed skater has insane stamina and endurance, which she trains by participating in another sport: cycling. Like many other professional speed skaters, Wüst works her legs on the bike to prepare for longer distances on the track, and she also hits the gym for lifts such as box squats, which develop hip power and explosiveness.
At 25, the latest Ethiopian star has emerged as the most dominant middle-distance runner in the world. The 5’6”, 115-lb. Dibaba—who last summer broke Yunxia Qu’s seemingly untouchable 16-year-old 1,500-meter world record and then took gold in the event at the world champs—combines off-the-charts aerobic capacity with flawless form and flowing speed.
At 5-foot and 100 pounds, former Division I gymnast Catanzaro proved that size doen’t matter when she became the first woman to finish the American Ninja Warrior obstacle course and qualify for the finals. To remain light, lean and lightning-quick, Catanzaro sticks to bodyweight circuit training and, of course, practices the AMW obstacles, such as the famous Warped Wall.
While she’s not a mainstream athlete, Stensland possesses top-notch cardiovascular fitness and endurance. A New Jersey native, Stensland was a Division I swimmer before transitioning to the professional triathlete and endurance sport circuit. Now she practices parkour and all of the supporting work that allows her to be a true fit athlete: warm-ups, cool-downs, recovery and strength and power development in the weightroom.
The 40-year-old Rampone is a veteran player who has won three Olympic gold medals and two World Cup titles in her 20-year pro career. Her role as USWNT captain is a reflection of her leadership skills but also of her stamina and overall physicality on the field, as well as her training regimen, nutrition and recovery practices off it.
With more than a dozen world championship titles and an Olympic gold medal to her name, Colombian BMX rider Pajón is considered one of the best in the world at the age of 24. In addition to practicing her killer moves on the bike, the 5’2”, 117-pound Pajon plays tennis, does Pilates exercises and incorporates gymnastic moves into her workouts.
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), Vonn is celebrated for her strength and mental tenacity, especially after suffering several injuries in her career. The 5’10”, 160-pound skier has rehabbed her body and does everything from beach sprints to TRX workouts to stay in shape.
In her seventh NASCAR season, Patrick also stays fit off the track. America’s most successful female racecar driver has done CrossFit to strengthen her body and more recently, channeled her inner yogi through various poses. While some workouts help train upper body and endurance, yoga helps Patrick train her mind to work through exhaustion during a race.
The 25-year-old Dallas Wings guard is returning from an ACL injury she suffered last season, but she hasn’t let it stop her from hitting the gym for some of her signature circuit training sessions that combine cardio, strength training and basketball skills into one badass workout.
The weightlifter from Apopka, Fla., is already an internet viral video sensation after she dropped a bar which rolled into and broke a window. The 20-year-old got her start in CrossFit and just barely missed out on making the U.S. team for Rio, but she has already broken eight records (two for the snatch, three for the clean-and-jerk, and three overall records) and is poised to be a weightlifting star.
Ranked No. 21 in the world, Stephens already has three WTA titles under her belt this year, and her fitness routines prove she’s prepping her body to win a few more. Stephens typically does a morning workout in the gym followed by a couple of hours of work on the tennis courts. From battle ropes on Bosu balls to pull-ups and more, the 5’7” Stephens works hard for her fitness.
At 33-years-old, Jones now trains for two Olympic sports—hurdling and bobsledding. She has battled some injuries over the course of her career, but fitness is a huge part of her lifestyle: Jones endorses Orangetheory Fitness, an interval workout that combines the treadmill, rowing machine, TRX training and free-weights, and also does yoga and track workouts.
A two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time world champion in cycling, Armstrong has also previously been a long-distance runner, triathlete and swimmer. She took time off from the sport to raise her son and to recover from her multiple surgeries but returned, and now, at 42-years-old, Armstrong is trying to win her third straight Olympic time trial gold medal in Rio in August.
A CrossFit competitor, Olympic lifter, trainer and NASCAR pit crew front tire changer, Abbott got a unique start in fitness and wasn’t always an elite athlete. Standing 5’3” and 118 pounds, Abbott now helps others at her own CrossFit facility and was also a nationally ranked Olympic lifter.
"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." - Harriet Tubman What are you trying to change in the world? 📸 @paulanthonysmith behalf of @simplyperfectionphotography and @badassbodydiet Photo taken at: CrossFit Southwharf in Melbourne, AUS (@crossfitsouthwharf ) @ifit @nike @niketraining @nikewomen @ig_leanmuscles #ChristmasAbbott #relentlessrebel #relentlesslife
The Dutch heptathlete and sprinter is the 2015 world champion at the 200 meters and trains in Florida to work on her starts, strength and more. She has box-jumped more than 50 inches (with videos to prove it!) and supplements her time in the gym and on the track with healthy, nutritious eating. The 5’10”, 143-pound Schippers even started a blog called Dafne Likes to share her recipes and workouts.
Leblanc-Bazinet is best known as the female winner of the 2014 CrossFit Games, but she was also a successful weightlifter in her native Canada. At 5’2” and 130 pounds, her workouts rival that of men twice her size. She also leads a class at and is director of programming at ICE NYC, a hybrid CrossFit-HIIT-yoga studio.
A Liverpool native, 23-year-old Johnson-Thompson is being tagged as one of Britain’s upcoming stars for the Rio 2016 Olympics. The 6-foot, 150-pound heptathlete adds boxing, gymnastics skills exercises and more to her traditional sprint workouts on the track. It’s no wonder she sports a picture-perfect six pack.
Harrison began judo at the age of six and was a strong junior player, but she secured her spot in history in 2012 at the Olympics in London by winning the first gold medal by any American (man or woman) in the sport’s history. As she eyes Rio 2016, Harrison trains using circuit-based workouts featuring running, lifting, rope climbs and, of course, judo.
Tate officially joined the UFC in 2013 and is the current UFC women’s bantamweight champion after defeating former titleholder Holly Holm at UFC 196 in March. The 29-year-old is training for her first title defense against Amanda Nunes, at UFC 200 which, if anything like her last pre-fight camp, will feature sparring sessions, footwork drills with a ladder and more.
A power forward for the Los Angeles Sparks, Parker is a two-time WNBA MVP and isn’t afraid to show off the training that got her there. From pull-ups to battle ropes and sled pulls, the 30-year-old mom of one puts in the work off court and it’s paid off so far in her career.
A two-time Olympic medalist in halfpipe snowboarding, 29-year-old Teter has also won seven X Games medals and her diverse workouts allow her to build her stellar strength, endurance and explosiveness. Her go-to is circuit training: a mix of battle ropes, Bosu ball balance exercises, TRX stability work and more.
Ranked No. 6 on the WSL 2016 Championship Tour, Fitzgibbons is known for her commitment to health and fitness and is even working on her own workout program featuring cardio, high intensity circuits and flexibility exercises. When she’s not catching waves, the 25-year-old Australian surfer is running, swimming, biking, boxing or hiking—any activity by which she can build cardiovascular fitness.
Mixed martial arts artist Waterson trains with Team Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., and has also trained in WuShu, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Boxing and wrestling. Waterson fits in her workouts—a mix of MMA sparring, kickboxing and cardiovascular work—between caring for her daughter as a self-described “full-time mommy.”
A 3x CrossFit Games athlete, Fortunato is also a physical therapist, a former collegiate gymnast and heptathlete and her workout sessions demonstrate her varied background. She does basic cardiovascular work, such as running, rowing and biking and also adds in yoga, gymnastics skills, such as handstands or rings, Olympic lifts and strong man training, such as carrying heavy objects.
Ashley Fliehr, aka Charlotte, has athletic abilities that extend well beyond WWE. 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. Fliehr uses everything from kettlebells to pull-up bars and more to sculpt her physique.
Copeland is a ballet dancer for the American Ballet Theatre, an Under Armour-endorsed athlete and a member of the President’s Council on fitness, sports and nutrition. The 33-year-old is also writing her third book—a health and fitness guide featuring exercise regimens and motivational advice for athletes, titled Ballerina Body—that is set to be released in 2017.
Wife to Ashton Eaton, the top athlete on our Fittest 50 men’s list, Theisen-Eaton also holds her own as one of the world’s fittest female athletes. The 27-year-old Canadian heptathlete won the 2016 World Indoors Championships pentathlon in Portland in March and now has her sights set on Olympic gold in Rio.
A Portland, Ore., native, Boone is a three-time winner of the World’s Toughest Mudder, the 2013 Spartan Race world champion and a three-time Death Race finisher—and also a corporate bankruptcy attorney. Her love affair with fitness began through CrossFit, and her workouts still incorporate some of the program’s exercises, combined with bodyweight movements, sprints and more. Recently, she’s taken up a new challenge: ultra-running races.
Franklin is a four-time Olympic gold medalist, currently holds the world record in the 200-meter backstroke and is headed into Rio poised to top the podium once again in August. The 21-year-old has been working with NFL speed and agility coach Loren Landow for dry land training ahead of the 2016 Summer Games and her workouts are geared towards explosiveness and power in the pool.
Even after her shocking defeat vs. Holly Holm, Rousey is still in fighting form and vows to return to reclaim her UFC women’s bantamweight champion belt. As she recovers from injuries she sustained against Holm, Rousey is training to get back in the ring by lifting weights, swimming, and working with her coach, Edmond Tarverdyan, at Glendale Fighting Club in California.
Named WNBA MVP in 2014, Minnesota Lynx forward Moore is a three-time WNBA champion and she trains her 6-foot frame for basketball-specific scenarios through various footwork drills and lifts in the gym. The 26-year-old also focuses on recovery and building a strong conditioning base through high-rep, lower weight exercises.
Washington Spirit defender Krieger is known for being one of the fastest on the 2015 World Cup champion USWNT and her explosiveness and power can be credited to plyometrics, agility and speed drills and other sans-soccer ball workouts.
After winning the all-around and team gold medals in London 2012, 20-year-old Douglas looks to become the first woman to repeat as a gold medalist since 1968. At 4′ 11″, Douglas earned the nickname “Flying Squirrel” and hopes to find Olympic success once again in Rio. Her workouts—in the gym and on the mat—keep her quick, agile and graceful for all of her events: vault, uneven bars, balance beam and the floor exercise.
Do you have #bicepslikebriggs? The Leeds, England, native is best known for her guns, and for winning the CrossFit Games in 2013 after returning from a devastating knee injury. She has been a regular at the event for several years since and also played soccer and competed in triathlons, duathlons and indoor rowing competitions growing up.
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Just 15, the New York-born Shiraishi is already recognized as one of the greatest rock climbers ever. In ascents of seemingly impossible routes she appears to be dancing more than climbing, reflecting her unmatched blend of power, stamina, strength and flexibility, honed through workouts outdoors and in climbing gyms.
The 29-year-old Jamaican earned the nickname “Pocket Rocket” for her slight, five-foot stature and explosiveness. Already one of the most titled female sprinters, Fraser-Pryce will look to raise the bar once more in August in Rio, as she bids to become the first woman to win three 100-meter gold medals at the Olympic Games.
Two-time Olympic silver medalist and U.S. ice hockey forward Duggan utilizes circuit training off the ice to mimic the quick bursts of speed, acceleration and agility needed during a game. She focuses on legs to make her a faster and more efficient skater, using different variations of squats and Omegawave technology to track her recovery and readiness to train, which allows her to push even harder.
The world’s No. 1 pole vaulter for the last two years, the New York native has won 15 U.S. national championships in her career and is the reigning Olympic pole vault champion heading into Rio. Coached by her husband, Rick, Suhr trains in two steel buildings behind her home and also adds in Pilates to her regimen.
The 37-year-old three-time Olympic gold medalist has her eyes on Rio 2016 with new partner, April Ross. A mom of three young children, the 6’3” Walsh Jennings incorporates different training techniques into her routine, including Pilates, Olympic lifts and plyometrics in addition to several hours of beach volleyball practice on the sand.
Known as The Preacher’s Daughter, Holm is the first person, female or male, to win titles in both boxing and mixed martial arts. The 5’8”, 135-lb southpaw, twice Ring’s Female Fighter of the Year, has devoted countless hours of training to transforming herself into a UFC champion, producing a fearsome blend of power, speed, endurance and agility.
Last hard training in the books. Time to head to Melbourne this evening. What a journey already and the fight is still to come. I love my life and this journey I am on. Thank you to my coaches and teammates for all of your hard work and dedication. I couldn't thank you enough. @mmacoachwink @baratagb @tussagb @izzystylewrestling @jacksonwink_mma @ufc
Only 22-years-old, Steffens already has an Olympic gold medal to her name with the U.S. water polo team in London 2012. She’ll go for a second in Rio and is known for her stellar level of fitness, which she puts on display in the pool but works for in the gym. The California native sticks to Olympic lifts but adds in pull-ups, ab workouts and other exercises to ready her body for a match in the water.
Shields began boxing at age 11. Four years ago she became the first U.S. woman ever to win a boxing gold medal, taking the middleweight title. Rugged, powerful and utterly committed, Shields put off turning pro in order to go for a second gold in Rio. Her training days include boxing specific drills and sparring as well as lifting and running—often capped with pushups and situps before bed, just because, she says, “it makes me feel stronger.”
A standout runner and swimmer at Wisconsin, Jorgensen only started triathlon in 2010, but quickly made her way to the top, winning 12 straight ITU World Triathlon Series events in 2014-’15. A willowy 5’10”, and 126 lbs., the 30-year-old favorite for Rio gold combines outsized power and endurance with technical precision in the bike and swim.
Each time the 21-time Grand Slam champion and WTA World No. 1 takes the court she puts on a masterful display of tennis skills combined with unmatched strength, power, agility and quickness—sometimes all in one rally.
A once-in-a-lifetime talent, Ledecky made her international debut in sensational style, winning the 800-meter freestyle at the London Olympics at age 15. She followed that up with nothing but gold at the next two world championships, including an unprecedented 200-, 400-, 800-, 1,500-meter sweep last summer. That astounding range has the 6-foot Ledecky standing as one of the likely superstars of the Rio Games.
U.S. all-around champion and world all-around gold medalist each of the past three years, Biles at 19 seems perfectly poised for Olympic glory as the world looks to Rio. In fact, “perfectly poised” seems the right phrase for the 4’9” Biles, who trains 32 hours a week to continue refining a body that seems magically capable of both soaring explosiveness and exquisite grace and precision.
Felix has been a sprinting star since high school (despite being dubbed Chicken Legs by her teammates), earning an Olympic silver in the 200 meters in 2004 at age 18. In the 12 years since, she has added 18 world and Olympic medals, 13 of them gold. Such a run of excellence demands not only raw talent but also an almost unheard-of level of fitness and attention to preparation.
Few athletes came into the London Olympics carrying greater expectations than Ennis-Hill, but the British star outran (and out-jumped, out-threw and out-hurdled) them all to take the gold. Small for a heptahlete at 5’5”, the 30-year-old Ennis-Hill (whose abs are an Internet sensation in their own right) is a rare package of speed, explosive power and refined athletic technique.