Michael Phelps Talks Olympic Schedule, Home Workout, Diet, More in B/R Exclusive

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2020

Photo Credit: Silk

Don't worry. Everyone struggles to make healthy choices and remain active once in a while, especially in these uncertain times. 

Even the most decorated Olympian in history.

"I have been in a rut for the last two weeks, and it makes it even harder for me to get out there and do an exercise or just to get some kind of movement for my body," Michael Phelps told Bleacher Report. "Sometimes it's forcing myself to get over that hump in those first five or 10 minutes into the workout and just getting out and doing it. Because I know on the other side I'm going to feel so much better."

Phelps and six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman are partnering with Silk and will share workout tips and recipes throughout the spring on social media for those looking to stay healthy even from home.

They will also appear on the new Silk Soymilk cartons in May, and Phelps, 34, said the plant-based beverage brand has helped him remain healthy even after his legendary Olympic career:

"This is the second time we've done something together. We worked together right after the Rio Games, and I'm not the same athlete and the same person that I was then. My training is different, my body is different. I want to always feel good and be happy, so I decided to make the change and incorporate a little bit more plant-based proteins into my diet. It's something I felt gave me more energy. I'm still working out six, seven days a week, and it's something that has given me the energy that I need."

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Photo Credit: Silk

While Phelps said he is incorporating small workout tricks with social distancing measures in place such as taking steps backward to get his hips in line to "isolate different muscle groups that I haven't worked in the past," he also stressed how important the nutrition aspect is to remaining healthy.

"The biggest thing when people want to talk about getting in shape, it is that combination of both," he said. "It is the nutrition, but it's also getting that activity. That outside walking or things around the house, it doesn't matter what it is, you always need some kind of movement."

Phelps and Raisman are doing far more than just supplementing their workouts with Silk.

Together, they will donate 1.5 million meals to Feeding America to help those who need food. The 23-time Olympic gold medalist said being able to help people is one of the things that drew him to working with Silk.

"This is a time that is scary for everybody," Phelps said. "I've struggled personally through this, and I know there are a lot of people that are struggling as well, and anything we can do to help I encourage people to do."

The coronavirus pandemic has uprooted the sports world as well, including for the Olympians who are training to accomplish even a portion of what Phelps did in his career. 

In March, the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced the 2020 Games were postponed until July 23-Aug. 8, 2021, because of COVID-19 concerns.

Phelps recognized the difficulties such a move creates, saying "my heart goes out to all the athletes ... going another year and completely changing your training and thought process will be a very big challenge," but he said the move was long overdue by the time it was finalized.

"I was shocked it took so long to postpone it. I've been talking to my wife and people who are close to me, they've been asking me since the end of last year what I thought, and I thought it should have been postponed then. I didn't think there was any shot in hell that it would happen at the date that they had scheduled ... It was mind-blowing that it took so long, but it was the right thing to do."

Phelps faced plenty of challenges on his way to a record 28 Olympic medals but nothing quite like having to train for an extra and unexpected year.

Yet, he believes he, coach Bob Bowman and the rest of his team would have found a way to improvise, much like many who are still working out while quarantined in their houses are improvising now.

"I'm just the kind of person that I would always figure out what I can control and do it the best way that I possibly could. At a time like this, I would do everything I can to find a pool that I need to train but also make sure that I'm doing the weights or the dry land exercises that I need. There's so many little ways that you can find household tools or things laying around that you can work into your workout routine, so we would just start getting creative. That's something that I feel my team always did."

Photo Credit: Silk

Fortunately for those looking for sports content when they aren't working out, there have been plenty of classic game broadcasts while live contests are largely on hiatus.

It's not all Michael Jordan highlights on The Last Dance, as many of Phelps' vintage performances have been on television in recent weeks.

He said he has particularly enjoyed reliving the moments with his children, especially since Boomer, who turns four years old in May, has started recognizing himself from when he was a baby during the broadcasts from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

Phelps wouldn't be the competitor he is, though, if he didn't find things he can improve even when watching events from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when he won a record eight gold medals.

"It goes both ways. It's been good, but it's been frustrating too because I'm such a perfectionist, and when I see little small mistakes that I made in the pool, it still fires me up. It was definitely good taking a trip down memory lane going back to 2008. For me, those were some of the greatest races of my career, and I was able to put myself back in those years and really just remember what I did to get there."

What he did clearly worked, and he has 28 Olympic medals, 23 Olympic golds and a Silk Soymilk carton to prove it.