THE BODIES OF the world’s top CEOs, entrepreneurs and executives have undergone a shift in the past decade. No longer does an image of an overweight, Diet Coke-drinking, burger-munching executive come to mind when we think about the globe’s most revered (respected?) business leaders, something I can attest to given the clientele that frequent my gym, Lockeroom, which caters exclusively to business leaders and high net worth individuals.
Setting the standard in this new era of the MBE (modern business executive) are three billionaires, each traversing different decades of their lives. META’s Mark Zuckerberg, Virgin’s Richard Branson and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos have all been very public about their respective fitness transformations and healthy lifestyles and habits. Each also remain heavily involved in the day-to-day madness of running and growing their global business empires. And to handle this workload they turn to a non-negotiable fitness regime that keeps them young, productive and fizzing with ideas.
Here, I’m going to break down the routines of each—focusing on what’s to like, what needs work and what I’d have them doing differently were they my client.
Mark Zuckerberg, 39
- 4 x per week combat sports training – boxing, MMA, Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ)
- Competes in BJJ competitions
- On ‘other’ days – cardio, strength work and mobility
- On days he feels too tired he goes for a long walk
- Fitness achievements: silver medal in BJJ competition, 5k run under 20 min, Murph (2 mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats in 9kg weight vest) under 40 min.
What’s to like: Combat sports training is extremely difficult, requires an exceptionally high level of skill development and is great for balance, coordination and confidence. Also the man can run—a sub 20-min 5km time would be solid for a pure runner (Zuck clearly has a strong set of lungs). He also does some mobility work, which many people omit from their routines but is essential for recovery and longevity.
What’s not to like: It’s a tonne of training. There are no specifics on the total volume but youth is on his side, so let’s see how long he can sustain it.
What I’d do differently: I like having a dedicated rest day. This ensures in a seven-day week you have one 24-hour cycle in which your body can focus on healing and repair. Because more is not always better.
Jeff Bezos, 60
- 30 mins of cardio and 45 mins of weights every morning
- Kayaking, paddle boarding and running hills some days as well
- Big focus on getting eight hours sleep
- Only trains mornings for productivity reasons
- Has a PT
What’s to like: Consistent weights routine. Mixing cardio with weights is a great way to be time efficient and ensure nothing gets missed. Both cardio and weights are essential for long-term health. Uses a PT for daily accountability.
What’s not to like: Again, every day is a lot for a 60-year-old. I trust his trainer is appropriately balancing his volume and exercise selection.
What I’d do differently: His fitness transformation is a recent one and at that stage of life it’s very hard to achieve tangible results. I’d be keen to know exactly how he did it. Regardless, in your late fifties/early sixties, recovery from training becomes an important priority. I’d like to have a rest day in there one or two times per week.
Richard Branson, 73
- Daily personal training sessions
- Kite surfing, tennis, mountain biking most days
- Trains at 7am
- Can do multiple pull-ups
- Lots of variety in movements like battle ropes, kettlebells and plyometric work
What’s to like: Branson is all about training in the gym to be better at both work and play. His passion isn’t shifting iron but the sports he loves; he acknowledges it’s the gym work that enables him to continue to do those sports.
What’s not to like: Branson’s weights routine doesn’t appear very structured. It looks more like random functional fitness, which means he’s missing an opportunity to build the muscle and strength that’s essential for his later years.
What I’d do differently: I’d put in more structured weight training—more time under tension and more muscle building exercises. This will keep his injury risk low, his strength high and his bones nice and strong.
Ultimately, these three leaders are a picture of health and a shining example that in order to manage a heavy and stressful workload you simply must be healthy and fit.