WORLD CHAMPIONS don’t get to the apex of their disciplines without an unflinching commitment to peak physical performance, and a holistic workout routine to match. Kyle Chalmers is no different. Less than a year out from Paris 2024, and with Olympic trials on the horizon, he’s going all guns blazing to chase that gold medal winning feeling.
During a recent sit-down with Men’s Health, Chalmers broke down his full routine, step by step. Fair warning, it’s not for the faint of heart. We wouldn’t recommend such an arduous undertaking to anyone who doesn’t have the time, motivation or resolve to train like an Olympian. Despite the hefty commitment, Chalmers doesn’t resent the effort. Instead, he revels in the grind, and looks forward to every session, “I love the endorphin hit of coming home after a really hard, taxing day of training and sitting on the couch, knowing I’ve given everything to the session.”
“I’m at the pool nine times a week,” Chalmers says. “That’s nine two-hour long swim sessions a week.” When I express surprise at his considerable workload, Chalmers simply shrugs his shoulders, apparently surprised that anyone striving for greatness would even contemplate doing less. In case it hasn’t clicked, the guy is a hard worker to a fault. Going all-out isn’t an occasional approach to his training, it’s the only way he knows how.
It’s a wonder that Chalmers finds the time to do anything but swim. Three days a week, he has two separate sessions in the water and will spend close to six hours a day at the pool. On another three days, he starts the morning with a swim session before hitting the gym for an hour and a half doing weights training. A reminder: Chalmers works as a tradie for two days a week on top of his training schedule. Needless to say, it’s an exhausting routine. “By the time Sunday rolls around, I pretty much don’t get off the couch for the rest of the weekend until I do it all again on Monday morning.”
On top of work and training, Chalmers also squeezes in weekly allotments for recovery, which usually entails a few hours in physiotherapy, getting a massage, or treating himself to even more time in water with an ice bath. “It’s almost like racing from a heat to a final,” he explains. “I’ve got to be good on Monday morning, but I’ve also got to still be good on Saturday morning. It’s not about having one good session a week; it’s about having nine very consistent sessions each week.”
Chalmers’ diet has changed drastically over the years, as he will begrudgingly admit. “I remember when I was heading into Rio, I’d probably go to Maccas a couple of times a week for breakfast, I’d go out for a schnitty on a Friday night, and I’d snack on lollies and bad food quite regularly,” he says. “Now my metabolism has definitely slowed down and I have to be a whole lot smarter.”
For breakfast, Chalmers will throw together yoghurt, muesli and berries. With that light start to the day accompanied by a one-litre smoothie comprised of equal parts broccoli, spinach, kale, brussels sprouts, raw egg and turmeric, with a dash of black pepper. “I hate the taste of it, but I feel like I’m on top of the world after it,” he admits. Lunch typically consists of something simple, like a ham, tomato and cheese toasted sandwich. Dinner varies, but Chalmers will assure you it’s always nutrient rich.
If you’ve followed Chalmers’ journey from his breakthrough to now, in addition to the plethora of tattoos that have sprung up over the years, you’re sure to have also noticed a cluster of dark, circular blotches adorning his upper body, the tell-tale mark of a wellness practice known as cupping therapy. While the scientific community is split on its effectiveness, Chalmers is a firm disciple. “I’m a strong believer in cupping,” he says. “I can see that it’s done something. You can get a massage for an hour and not see any difference. Whereas with cupping, I can see the bruises and I’m like ‘yeah, I’ve done my recovery’.”
That mindset sums up Chalmers’ approach to his fitness perfectly. If there’s anything he can do to make himself perform better, he’ll do it, and he doesn’t hide the fact. “If something’s going to help me improve by even 0.5% or 0.1%, or make me swim 0.01% faster, I’m willing to try it.”