Standing at 6’8” and roughly 300 pounds, it’s easy to understand why no one seems to be able to stand in martial artist—and the “Most Crowned Judoka of All Time”—Teddy Riner’s way. Since first competing in the Judo World Championships back in 2007, the man has taken home 10 gold medals, not to mention two Olympic gold medals. And according to Riner, he is far from slowing down.
“Every day I am motivated to be a better fighter and to win more titles,“ says Riner over the phone from Paris, with use of a French translator. “I am still young, and there are more victories in my future.” The athlete is already plotting his return to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, and a possible appearance this September to chase his 11th gold medal at the World Championships.
Given the fact that Riner competes in the heavyweight division, one might picture him spending long days in the gym, moving heavy plates of iron. And while he does lift weights, the athlete thinks that most of his success comes from the agility built through his sprint and bodyweight work, along with long hours on the mat.
“There aren’t a lot of heavyweight fighters like me doing hill sprints,” Riner says. “But I think especially for the guys my size, it forces your cardio to be superb and your mental grit to be active. Mental toughness is very important in high-level sports like mine. I last longer in my judo sparring because of that sprint work that I do on steps and outdoors.”
Bodyweight training has been another important addition, and one that Riner’s conditioning coach has encouraged. “Of course it takes work, and again, more difficult for guys who carry more size,” he says. “I find that I am able to achieve more fluidity and flexibility through doing movements like pull-ups, chin-ups, and rope climbing.” In order to fit all of this training in, Riner admits he will have up to five workout sessions a day during his camps. (Now, his intense regimen is being spotlighted in a new campaign for Under Armour titled “Will Finds A Way”, narrated by none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.)
The Full-Body Circuit
Here, a sample circuit from Riner’s trainer Benoît Campargue. Perform four sets of the circuit back to back.
Crunches (with rotations): 20 reps
Bodyweight Pull-ups: 8 reps
Jump Rope: 10 reps
Seated Cable Rows: 10 reps
Push-ups: 20 reps