October 16, 2021

A Bodybuilder Tried Michael Phelps’ Epic Workout and 12,000-Calorie Diet

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YouTuber Will Tennyson has taken on the training regimes and diet plans of some of the world’s fittest athletes and celebrities in the name of making content for his channel, eating and working out like bodybuilder turned movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Jacked Chef” Andre Rush, strongman Brian Shaw, boxing legend Muhammad Ali, and Navy SEAL David Goggins. In his latest video, he faces one of his biggest challenges yet: spending a day following the routine of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, winner of no fewer than 23 gold medals.
“His training is pretty intense, but his diet is even more intense,” says Tennyson. “I’m going to give it my best shot.”
For the record, Phelps has actually previously busted the myth of his 12,000-calorie diet, calling it a fabrication by the press and telling Men’s Health: “12,000 is not real. It’s impossible. You can’t eat that much… During my prime, I was probably really eating 8 to 10 [thousand calories per day]. But that was the most, and that was when I was in high school and still growing.”
Even so, that’s still an enormous amount of food for Tennyson to eat in just one day, so he divides the calories up into three huge meals. “There’s lots of diversity, lots of carbs, and a lot of eggs,” he says.
Breakfast consists of a 5-egg omelet, a bowl of grits, 3 fried egg sandwiches with spinach, 3 slices of French toast, 3 chocolate chip pancakes, and 2 cups of coffee; it’s a hearty way to start the day, for sure, and leaves Tennyson “feeling full” and “sweating a lot.”

Once he’s digested all of that food, it’s time for him to tackle an Olympic-inspired swimming workout; a series of swimming drills which work on both technique and speed across breaststroke, backstroke, freestyle, and Phelps’ specialty, butterfly. “Swimming is a deceptively hard workout,” he says. “My lats are fried, my head from that swimming cap is toasted right now, and I feel a little bit woozy, it must be glycogen depleted from that workout.”
Meal number 2 is a slightly simpler affair: 2 ham and cheese sandwiches and pasta, as well as 2 energy drinks (a Phelps staple beverage). Then it’s time for a bodyweight workout, with Tennyson attempting a dead hang pullup max to see how it stacks up against Phelps’ record of 34 consecutive reps. “You know pullups hit your lats, which is going to help with your overhead and pulling power, helping you get through the water,” he says. He ultimately manages 20 reps before dropping from the pullup bar.
The third and final carb-heavy meal of the day is even more pasta (1 pound, to be exact), and a large pepperoni pizza, along with another 2 energy drinks. “I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be able to achieve ketosis again in my life,” he says

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