Ahead of Tokyo 2021, Peaty spoke exclusively to GIVEMESPORT thanks to Castore about his pre-Olympics preparations and offered fascinating insight into how he prepares his body for the demands of the event.
As the most successful 100m breaststroke swimmer of all-time, Adam Peaty knows exactly what it takes to keep his body in prime condition.
Back in April, Peaty became the first person to hold the 20 fastest ever times in the 100m breaststroke.
Nobody comes close to the 26-year-old in an event that he has become absurdly dominant in over the last five years.
Ahead of the games, Peaty spoke exclusively to GIVEMESPORT about his pre-Olympics preparations and offered fascinating insight into how he prepares his body for the demands of the event.
“The training programme heading into Tokyo is very specific,” said Peaty, who was in typically jovial mood during our Zoom call, cracking jokes and offering up Inbetweeners references for good measure.
“What that means is we’re looking at lower volumes (4500-5000 metres) a session in the pool and ten sessions a week. So you’re looking at 20 hours in the pool, and probably around five to ten hours in the gym for recovery, rehabilitation, physio, all that kind of stuff.”
If we break that down over a five-day window, Peaty is spending approximately six hours a day training for an event that is done and dusted in less than 60 seconds.
But despite the gruelling demands Peaty is particularly enjoying himself in phase three of his pre-games training plan. This is the period in which when he gets to lift heavy, pushing towards his one-rep max of 180kg for a squat – equivalent to lifting a large ostrich, the largest bird in the world – and 140kg for a bench press.
There’s a reason why the swimmers physique is one of the most desirable in the world.
“Phase three is between May to July or August, depending on when the competition is. Phase three is where I thrive. I don’t like aerobic training. It’s so boring. I hate it.
“I thrive in anaerobic VO2 max sessions, heart rate max sessions, real fast stuff. So that’s what we’re going through now.
“In the gym I’m benching and squatting very heavy for the next two weeks, and then I’ll start to come down, as will the bodyweight and then as we do that we’ll look for a fling upwards, and hopefully time it perfectly.”
Instinctively you might assume that Peaty would be easing up on weight lifting ahead of the games, conserving his energy for the main event. But the multi world-record holder explained that it’s important to feel you’re at peak strength before diving into the pool.
“You don’t want to get to the Olympics and feel weak. You don’t want to feel like you couldn’t lift what you should be lifting. So what’s worked well for most of the preparation that we’ve done for races towards the middle of the year, around July time, is we’ve always lifted two weeks out to the competition, stopped, and then had a few top ups.
“I’ve realised that I really get a massive bonus off lifting all the way through now. What I’m doing now into July is trying to get to my one rep max across the whole board and then sustain and maintain and get faster with that strength. So this week we might hit one rep maxes, but in three weeks’ time, we’ll be looking at doing 80% as fast as we can, or 70%, and then work our way down.
It’s not only the major compound movements that are important for Peaty, however. They may be what he gets the most enjoyment from but, when asked about what swimmers needs to focus on in the gym, he was eager to emphasise the need to look after the wheels that keep the vehicle in motion.
“Definitely rehabilitation and shoulders. We call it body health or shoulder strength. So we’ll do internal rotations and rotations against a wall. Basically anything around the subscapularis and rotary cuffs and around your hips as well. It’s basically keeping the wheels on the car.
“You’ve got the engine, you’ve got the squat, you’ve got the swimming, you’ve got all the hard stuff. But you still need wheels to drive and that keeps the wheels on.”
Any Olympic athletes’ training regime is a brutal journey for both body and mind.
Colossal levels of energy are expended on a daily basis and the sheer level of exercise Peaty puts himself through makes the refuelling process just as important as the training itself.
Rather intriguingly, at this stage in the training plan Peaty practices intermittent fasting and believes that he performs better when his stomach is empty.
“I fast for 16 hours every single day. I’ve done my research on it and I’ve run it past all the nutritionists. If it’s something you believe in and something you want to do, then why not?
“It’s worked, because I’ve always struggled to keep muscle off. And you know, people have the opposite problem trying to put muscle on, but I’ve always struggled to keep muscle off. It just runs in the genes to build muscle easily.
“What we discovered is that if we cut breakfast and dinner a little bit shorter, then we still get the amount of calories in, but those calories are extremely clean. For example, yesterday, I had 15 of my fruit and veg a day instead of five.”
Though Peaty incorporates intermittent fasting into his own regime, he was keen to make the point that it’s not necessarily for everyone.
Part of the appeal for Peaty is that it’s possible to consume the right level of calories he needs to strike the optimum skinfold ratio ahead of the games.
“It’s how you how you feel off a fast. I can perform so much better knowing that my stomach is empty, and all the blood is going to my muscles and my CV (cardiovascular) system. But it’s something that just works for me. I don’t want to spread this information that everyone should do it but I think that everyone should at least try it and see how it works for them.”
As we close the conversation it feels apt to discuss the mental challenges Olympians face after spending years training for one event.
The pursuit of success is a journey paved with difficulty and ultimately not everyone is going to be satisfied with their performance on the day. But for Peaty, it’s important to know that there is no shame in falling short of your goals if you know that you’ve pushed yourself to the limit.
Life is in a constant state of flux, so it’s important to ensure that your sense of self-worth isn’t defined by one poor performance.
“I would not let two lengths of the swimming baths define me. I define the two lengths of the baths, because I know I would have given absolutely everything in that performance.
“You can find peace in that and hopefully a little bit of freedom as well.”
Castore athlete Adam Peaty embodies the Better Never Stops attitude. To see the full premium sportswear collection visit castore.com