Olympic Physique: Bodies at Work

There is a great two-page spread in today’s New York Times Magazine:

New York Time: Bodies of Work

I’m reproducing the slideshow here, linearly, so you can see all 6 of them together.  Very interesting, particularly the different stats for each.  Amazing.

I feel like I’m looking at a Chihuahua, a Great Dane, and a Greyhound and trying to remember that they are all dogs… amazing variety in our species. In researching the nutrition that these athletes undertake, I found some deals for some mail-in nutrition a gesture for my readers. Use this exclusive code to get a discount on your order: TER5843.

Age: 27
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 335 lbs.
Waist: 38″
Thighs: 29″
Biceps: 20″
Bench Press: 635 lbs.
Squat: 650 lbs.
Vertical Leap: 32″
Body Fat: 15 percent
Daily Calorie Consumption: 5,000

“I’m good at improving my upper body — my triceps and back and chest. I used to do it for the chicks, but now I do it to be good at my sport. It’s kind of cool how that’s worked out.”


Age: 35
Height: 5’5″
Weight: 103 lbs.
Maximum Oxygen Consumption(VO2 Max): 82.0 ml/kg/min.(One of the highest ever recorded for women; 40 is considered high for an average woman her age.)
Resting Heart Rate: 28 beats per minute
Waist: 26.5″
Thighs: 16.5″
Biceps: 8″
Bench Press: 65 lbs.
Squat: 105 lbs.
Body Fat: 8 percent
Daily Calorie Consumption: 4,000

“The most difficult thing for me to develop is explosive power. I was born with a lot of lean, slow muscle. With a lot of protein and a lot of strength training, I can manipulate my ‘nature.’”


Age: 30
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 186 lbs.
VO2 MAX: 43.2 ml/kg/min.
Resting Heart Rate: 67 beats per minute
Waist: 34″
Thighs: 21″
Biceps: 11″
Bench Press: 405 lbs.
Squat: 450 lbs.
Body Fat: 4 percent

“When I lift, my chest and arms develop quickly and are easy to get stronger and bigger. I have really small lower legs — and no matter what I do, they get stronger, but not bigger.”


Age: 25
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 300 lbs.
Resting Heart Rate: 75 beats per minute
Waist: 50″
Thighs: 32″
Biceps: 17″
Bench Press: 160 lbs.
Squat: 495 lbs.
Vertical Leap: 30″
Body Fat: 28-30 percent
Daily Calorie Consumption: 3,000-4,000
Flexibility: Can do splits both ways

“I started training when I was 13, so almost everything about my body is completely different now. I’m taller and a lot heavier than I was. When I say that my thighs are 32 inches, they’re really hard all of the way around, and my butt is huge from squatting all the time.”


Age: 26
Height: 6’9″
Weight: 225 lbs.
VO2 Max: 67.4 ml/kg/min.
Resting Heart Rate: 56 beats per minute
Waist: 36″
Thighs: 23″
Biceps: 15″
Bench Press: 215 lbs.
Squat: 245 lbs.
Body Fat: 7.6 percent
Daily Calorie Consumption: 6,000

“In high school, I was kind of a beanpole. Then in college I started rowing and I joined a program to increase your vertical jump and muscles started popping out from all over the place.”


Age: 24
Height: 5’7″
Weight: 135 lbs.
VO2 Max: 65.0 ml/kg/min.
Resting Heart Rate: 40 beats per minute
Waist: 26″
Thighs: 20″
Biceps: 10.5″
Bench Press: 135 lbs.
Squat: 225 lbs.
Vertical Leap: 35″
Body Fat: 12 percent
Daily Calorie Consumption: 4,500

“My punch comes from my thighs and my glutes. I always say that it’s my butt that gets me there.”

29 thoughts on “Olympic Physique: Bodies at Work

  1. Pretty cool…the biceps size has to be a typo for Shawn Crawford though. 6th graders have 11 inch arms and none of them can bench 405, or even 200 pounds for that matter. My guess is they misread 17 as 11.

    Deena’s Vo2 max is incredible.

  2. Most of the info here is BS… I mean.. honestly… 12% BF on that last girl? She is huge! 12% BF is very very lean for a female.. and that girl just looks fat.. just look at her arms thighs and face. Damn..

    And the weight lifting girl is laughable as well..She looks like a girl who can’t even jump 2 inches off the ground.. and you guys say she has a 30 inch vertical?

    • James, I agree that 12% seems quite low for the last girl, but describing her as huge has to be the overstatement of the year. She is VERY pear shaped, but definitely not huge.

    • Well if you knew anything about olympic lifts they make you explosive and increase your vertical. Just go youtube video search, you will find hugely overweight people jumping over 40 inches in the air. 30 is nothing.
      And 12 percent body fat is extremely reasonable… I dont know why you think 12 is so ridiculous, she is not fat at all.

    • Lol, you display a lot of ignorance. Were yours this stupid as well? Kinda run in the family type thing? That woman is a cyclist, you inbred couch potato. Yes, THEY DO have very little BF %, and yes, despite her meaningless “lifting stats” her legs are easily 3 times more powerful than yours. You really have clue, do you? Fucking moron, lol. Unreal….

  3. @ Ben
    I was doubtful of Crawfords 11 inch arms but they can explained with two reasons.
    1) They were measured unflexed
    2) His arms are actually quite skinny, his muscle mass=in the chest traps and quads due to a workout program with emphasis on bench, power clean and squats
    @ James
    Its well known that weightlifters on average have the highest vertical amongst athletes, their CNS has been trained to produce tremendous amouts of force at high velocity and thus even lifters in the highest weight classes will have good VJs

    • He may have skinny arms in relation to the rest of his body but 11 inches???? Do you know how skinny 11 inches is??? 15-16 for him at least, that’s a decent size.

  4. I think all the body fat percentages are way under.

    1. Shot putter looks around 20%-25% body fat.

    2. Marathon runner is probably closer to 15%-20% body fat, although appears to have virutally no muscle.

    3. Track guy looks about 8% body fat.

    4. The weight lifter is about 35%-40% body fat. That is obese.

    5. The rower is about 15%.

    6. And the cyclist I put at around 25% body fat (which is not ‘huge’ as James put it, but definitely not what 12% looks like on a female).

      • Dima, do you have any clue just how low 4-5% body fat is? The only people who get down to that level are professional bodybuilders in contest condition, and even they can only do that for a short time for contest, due to the difficulty and health dangers of maintaining that state.

        This article would be more accurate if BF%’s were doubled.

    • 2. Marathon runner is probably closer to 15%-20% body fat, although appears to have virutally no muscle.

      Have you seen her run? In person? I have and I can assure you that she’s not lacking in the muscle department. Besides, in order to run as fast as her, she has to have muscle. Albeit, LEAN muscle because she is after all, a distance runner and not a sprinter or weight lifter. Speed = Strength.

      • Her squat is barely her body weight, which itself is barely over 100 lbs. By many standards she is definitely lacking in the muscle department. The reason she may look like she has a reasonable amount of muscle is because she has very little body fat.

    • Kate, I’m pretty sure they measured it, body appearance vs performance can be unpredictable, that’s the idea here.

  5. James how on earth can you refer to the last girl as ‘huge’ with Cheryl Haworth above her, seriously. She looks fine, just not 12% body fat which like you say is very lean for a female. I put her around 25% body fat which is pretty average, equivilent of about 17% body fat for a man.

  6. A lot of these numbers are BS. First guy for example is more like 25% BF or more… I’d bet my life savings he’s not under 20 and yet they say he’s 15??? At 15 you should start to see some decent ab definition if the person is flexing and there’s no way that guy is going to be showing us his abs.

    He doesn’t just carry it in his belly either… it’s all over.

    The guy they claim is 7.6%… no way. I was 8-9% last time I got measured and have 10x the muscle definition that guy does. (That’s how I got here… google searched for other people in my BF range)

    And yeah as some of you mentioned the last girl… she’s carrying a lot of fat in her lower body. At the BF they peg her at she’d have chicken legs, not elephant legs.

  7. well im pear shaped.5’2 115 and 19% body fat
    i have a 25 inch waist and 20 inch thighs so i doubt shes 12 percent.but then again,what if her thighs are really all muscle?

  8. They chose a bad example of a rowers phisique, this guy is a stick. A solid rower is built like a track cyclist in the legs except with a very solid back and shoulders

  9. The stats in this NYT article definitely seem far-fetched to me, as others have surmised. It is very unfortunate that the NYT published these inaccuracies, because this is the kind of information that promotes poor body image and eating disorders.

    Deena is very tiny and has suffered the consequences in some ways. She’s had a higher number of stress fractures than a lot of other elite female runners, which is probably due, at least in part, to her low weight. That said, her body fat percentage is likely higher than 8% and her RHR is likely higher than 28. I also highly, highly doubt from the experience I’ve had as a PT that the track cyclist in that photo has 12% body fat. The stats in this article definitely seem skewed to make an impression on the public. Generally any woman under the 12% mark is very, very lean and is potentially jeopardizing her health. This is the point at which experts begin to see things like dismenorrhea and infertility.

    • Actually, her injuries are not due to what you call ‘low weight.’ Many elite long distance runners look very slight when they are not competing. Her injuries, such as her broken foot in the 2008 Olympic Women’s Marathon, was due to the fact that she wasn’t getting enough vitamin D to absorb the calcium she consumed in order to keep her bones strong. She had been careful to protect herself against the sun to prevent skin cancer – which in turn prevented the vitamin D absorption (because the body produces vitamin D from sunlight) – since she does have very sensitive skin. Here’s an article from RT that has more info on her recovery: http://runningtimes.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=15756

  10. Ok, I just happened to stumble to this page and it looks like the body fat percentages are way way off. I understand that athletes, and Olympians especially have above average muscle mass, simply because they are athletes. But the first guy, there is noooo way that his body fat is at 15%. His fat free mass index is 34.8, which is unheard of, I put him at a minimum of 23-24%.

  11. Wow, a lot of comments here suggest that people are clueless. There is a huge difference between an athlete and body builder. These guys are Olympic *Athletes* in top physical condition. Don’t expect them to be steroidal and cartoonishly hypertrophic. They have massive amounts of real muscle. This means they can have what might be considered a regular _amount_ of body fat and still have a very low _percentage_ of body fat.

    The entire point of the article is that western ideals of appearance are not indicative of actual physical ability and visa versa. People who actually use their muscles in sports typically don’t end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    And to the person who described Sarah Hammer as “huge”: Fuck you. Hammer’s body rocks. I would be glad to find myself between her meaty 20″ thighs any day.

  12. First guy, shot putter- 15% LOOOOL more like 20%+ And the track guy, 11 inch biceps???? 11 inches is puny, I would think at least 15-16 inches, and his body fat looks more 8% than 4%.

  13. actually, fuck that- 20%+ for the shot putter, DEFINATELY more than 20%, I wouldn’t be suprised if he is 30%, twice the body fat he is claimed to have, or somewhere close, in the high 20s like 27-28% the fat bastard!!!

  14. I think the stats were taken at different time than when the pictures were taken. I am assuming the stats were recorded right before the Olympics and the pics probably a month or so after that.

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